Caribbean Ingredients

Ever wonder what goes into our delicious food? Let us decode that mystery for you. Here are some ingredients and terminology you might have heard that will help you understand what makes our Jamaican inspired food so awesome!

Ackee

This reddish-yellow fruit of an evergreen tree was introduced into Jamaica from West Africa. Ackee, aptly named "vegetable brains", lies inside the innermost chamber of the exotic red fruit. The yellow flesh tastes like scrambled eggs, and is popular served with saltfish, hot peppers and onions.

Chayote

A member of the squash and melon families, it is also known as Cho-cho or Christophene. It is a green pear-shaped fruit used as a vegetable in salads or cooked in a variety of ways.

Chutney

A blend of cooked tropical fruits and vegetables flavored with peppers and spices. Mango chutney is a traditional accompaniment to curries.

Curry

Curries are highly seasoned gravy-based dishes originating from India. They are prevalent on islands such as Jamaica, Trinidad, and Tobago, where indentured servants from India settled in the mid-19th century. Many Caribbean cooks use prepared spice mixtures that include coriander, cumin, turmeric, black and cayenne peppers, and fenugreek, among others. Caribbean cooks also commonly add allspice to their curries.

Escabeche

Also called Escovitch by the Jamaicans. Seafood that has been pan fried or poached, then marinated in citrus (or vinegar) and herbs.

Guava

A bright orange to red tropical fruit about the size of a small lemon. Used in compotes, pastes and jellies. Guava pastes from the Hispanic islands are intensely flavored and are delicious served with cream cheese and spread on cassava or other crisp breads or crackers.

Jerk

The words "Jerk" and "jerky" originally referred to the process of rubbing spices and acidic hot peppers onto strips of meat in order to tenderize and preserve them. In Jamaica, Trindidad, Barbados and Tobago, an entire culinary art grew up around "jerk". There are many jerk seasoning combination in the Islands, most of which call for scallions, thyme, allspice, hot peppers, onions and garlic. Some jerks use citrus juice or vinegar to add tartness, or molasses to add sweetness. Typically used on chicken or pork, jerk also complements fish dishes. Find out more about Jerk cooking.

Jicama

A root vegetable that looks like a large brown turnip with white sweet crisp flesh.

Mango

A tropical fruit with thick skin varying in color from green to bright red. Its flesh is yellow, firm and sweet, and can be eaten raw or as part of many marinades, sauces, ice creams and sorbets. Green mangoes are a main constituent of the best chutneys and are used in down-island stews as a vegetable.

Okra

This green pod-like fruit was introduced to the Caribbean region by African slaves, and is cooked as a vegetable on the islands. Often used as a thickening agent in soups and stews.

Pick-a-Peppa Sauce

A mango-tamarind based spicy pepper sauce from Jamaica.

Plantain

Plantains, or cooking bananas, are a staple across the Caribbean. They must be cooked to be edible; however, they need not be ripe. Green plantains and ripe plantains are often sliced, cooked in a seasoned batter and deep fried for fritters. Ripe plantains taste like a cross between a sweet potato and a banana. Tostones are green plantains.

Learn more>>