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Green Seasoning: Caribbean Marinade for Meat, Poultry & Seafood

Green Seasoning, used to marinate meat, seafood & poultry, is a staple in just about every Trinidadian household.

A small glass jar of green seasoning

It’s likely that every Trinidadian household has a jar of green seasoning in their fridge, whether store bought or homemade. Like so many of the Caribbean dishes that I grew up with, there doesn’t seem to be one single recipe to make green seasoning – everyone has their own version and it’s usually a bit of this and a dash of that rather than a formal recipe.

The green seasoning recipe I’m sharing today is based on the flavours that I prefer and the fresh ingredients that are available to me here in Toronto (Canada).

Green seasoning is one of the flavours of my childhood, but for a long time I didn’t use it at all. Growing up in Toronto our meals were quite varied, sometimes Trinidadian dishes and sometimes more Canadian style meals. Think: a peanut butter & jelly sandwich on white bread in my lunchbox and chicken pelau for dinner. The complexities of being a brown-skinned child of immigrant parents in 70s in Toronto…I wanted less of what could be used to make fun of me & my family and more of what made us fit in.

What is in Green Seasoning?

  • Culantro, leaves and stems, is the main ingredient and the most predominant flavour. Fresh culantro may be challenging to find, and some people will use cilantro instead, through it is not a substitution that I have tried. Depending on where in the world you are, culantro is known by many different names: shado beni, bhandhanya (sometimes spelled bhandania), chandron benee, coulante, recao, fit weed, stink weed, false cilantro, chandon beni, Mexican coriander, ngo gai and serrated or sawtooth coriander.
  • Spanish Thyme. This is one ingredient that I always substitute for the thyme that is available in my local grocery. I prefer to use fresh thyme but if all I have is dried that’s what I use.
  • Fresh garlic, in my opinion, is a must. Garlic powder or garlic salt just doesn’t add the same flavour.
  • Green onions, the green and white parts.
  • Onion or shallots.
  • Celery stalks and leaves. This is one ingredient that I’ll use only if I have it. I don’t use a lot of celery and would rather leave it out than buy a bunch of celery just for 1 or 2 stalks.
  • Fresh parsley.
  • Citrus juice – lemon or lime.
  • Hot peppers are optional.
  • Neutral tasting oil.

How to make Trinidadian Green Seasoning

This recipe could not be easier! Everything is tossed into a blender or food processor and broken down into a paste.

Ingredients for green seasoning
  • Wash and dry all fresh ingredients.
  • Cut the bigger ingredients like onions, culantro and green onions into smaller pieces to fit into the blender or food processor.
  • Process to your desired consistency. You can add water or oil to thin out your green seasoning.
Scooping some green seasoning out of a food processor.

What does Green Seasoning taste like?

The predominant flavour in my green seasoning is culantro supported by thyme, garlic and green onions. Culantro is quite fragrant with a fresh, herbaceous smell and taste, and the entire green marinade is bright & fresh tasting.

How do you use Green Seasoning?

Green Seasoning is most often used as a marinade for meat, seafood and poultry but it can be used to flavour an array of dishes.

  • To use as a marinade keep in mind that a little goes a long way. You can do an overnight marinade but with proteins like seafood or poultry a few hours will do.
  • Calling green seasoning a marinade can be confusing because people often think that the flavour of final dish will be the herby green seasoning. Curry chicken or goat, stewed chicken, fried fish and more all start off with a base of this seasoning.
  • Fried Channa (chickpeas) is a popular snack item in Trinidad and will often be tossed in a green seasoning or culantro blend.
  • I also use green seasoning on roasted potatoes, added to a homemade chicken gravy, in scrambled eggs and or mixed with mayo for a sandwich.

How do you store Green Seasoning?

If you are like me and make a big batch of green seasoning, you may want to consider options for storage. I usually keep a small jar in the fridge to use within a week or two and freeze the rest. I use a small silicone ice cube tray to freeze into small cubes of seasoning.

Putting freshly made green seasoning into a yellow silicone ice cube tray.

Once frozen, these cubes can be popped out and stored in a freezer bag until you are ready to use it.

Green Seasoning (Trini Style Marinade)

A small jar of green seasoning with a blender in the background
Green Seasoning is a simple, homemade Trinidadian culantro-based marinade.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Blending 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Equipment

  • Blender or Food Processor
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 bundles fresh culantro leaves and stems
  • 1 bunch green onion green and white parts
  • ½ red or white onion
  • 2 – 3 sprig fresh thyme
  • ½ bunch fresh parsley
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic peeled
  • juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • 1 – 3 chili peppers
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil up to ½ cup

Instructions

Method

  • Wash all produce.
  • Prepare culantro and green onions by cutting off the bottom with the roots.
  • Remove outer skin from onion.
  • Coarsely chop culantro, green onion, and onion into big pieces.
  • Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and pulse to start to break down ingredients.
  • Add water or oil 1 tbsp at a time and pulse to make a thick paste.
  • Store in an airtight jar in the fridge or freeze in an ice cube tray for later.
    Putting freshly made green seasoning into a yellow silicone ice cube tray.

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