Spicing It Up: Guyanese Green Seasoning
Growing up in Guyana was amazing, especially because it began my love affair with food. At least that’s what I thought until I began to travel and realized it seasoned my palette for fine herbs and spices. A seasoning combination can either make or break a meal; exalting it to par excellence or rendering it rubbish. Getting the right combination is key, but how does that happen? And, will you be able to repeat it the next time exactly? Highly unlikely if you are not a seasoned chef or professional in the kitchen. So, how do we mere mortals master the spice rack and put our signature stamp on the meal of our choice? With a signature seasoning combination… Enter ‘Guyanese Green Seasoning’.
The Right Stuff
Now the secret to creating this magical addition to any stew or sauce - vegetarian or carnivorous meal - is quite simple. The first step is that it should all be fresh. Nothing beats the flavor found in fresh herbs. The dried ones have their place, but not in Guyanese Green Seasoning.
Before you start you should have a chopper, grinder, food processor, or blender. Anything that chops, slices, dices, or purees will do. It should have a cover. That’s probably the most important part of the whole process, unless you intend to do a lot of cleaning after your experiment. Note: this chopper does not need to be the top-of-the-line chef master centerpiece of your kitchen. The $15 chopper will shred just as nicely as the $115 one; especially if you're not Rachael Ray yet. Besides, if the tools cost more than your beautiful seasoning mix in the end (or have more attachments than the number of ingredients you're putting in it) - something's wrong with the process and we need to start over. With your chopper firmly selected and ready to go, you’ll also need a container that seals well to gather and keep your bounty when complete. I find that a glass jar does this best (usually re-purposed from some other adventure in the market), but plastic will do just as well.
Now that you’ve got the platform for your mix, you’re ready for the ingredients.
The list is as follows:
· Thyme (fine leaf)
· 1 lime
· 1 tsp vinegar
These ingredients can be found at any supermarket or even ordered online. I’m sure you’re thinking, “well where are the measurements…how do I know how much of each thing to use?” Well, that’s the fun part. It depends. Perhaps you don’t want to start out big and go full force with this. If you want a small batch just to try it out simply buy a small set of each thing on the list. What does this mean? For example, you only want 8 ounces of seasoning that should be enough for approximately 3-5 meals. You would get 1 bunch of thyme, parsley and cilantro; 1 pack of sage (in US supermarkets these herbs come in smaller amounts and parceled off in packs already); 1 large bunch of scallions or 3 small bunches; 1 large white onion or 3 small ones; 1 clove of garlic; 1 lime; 1 teaspoon of distilled vinegar.
You may have noticed I did not mention the basil and this is why: when using basil with cilantro one overpowers the other. This is a part of that ‘perfect’ combination that makes Guyanese Green Seasoning so special. It is important to note that you cannot use equal parts of basil and cilantro (in this mix or separately) and still taste the basil. The cilantro will dull its taste every time. In order to get the most out of both herbs you must double your basil based on how much cilantro you include. So, for a small batch of green seasoning using 1 bunch of cilantro, you will need 2 bunches of basil. Next, wash all herbs thoroughly, remove stems, add to the chopper, and blend. When the herbs have been sufficiently diced, squeeze the lime over the mix and add the teaspoon of vinegar then blend a bit more until you have an even mixture. Of course, if and when you go bigger with your mix just remember to double the ingredients in the instructions above, remembering to pay close attention to the basil-cilantro connection.
...& wah-lah! You're finished!!!
Well, now you know what tools you need and you have the list of ingredients (and how much to use). This seasoning mix is great for spicing up sauces or stews. Don’t be afraid to be liberal. Approximately 2 tablespoons of Guyanese Green Seasoning can be added to an average-sized pan or pot to enhance flavor. Don't forget your regular condiments (like salt, pepper, et cetera) to complete your lovely dish to your tastes. For baking or frying meat or fish, green seasoning can also be used as a rub. I’ve even dared to drop a dash in soup and was pleasantly surprised at the amazing taste. Hopefully this adventure will be as fun for you in your spicy endeavors.
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