Sarina’s Trinidad-Style Garlic Sauce (recipe)
No local condiment series would be complete without a recipe for Trini Garlic Sauce. It’s just one of those local favourites that can be found everywhere from beachside stands , to popular ‘grill’ joints as well as streetside food vendors. Indeed many street vendors have distinguished themselves solely on having ‘ah bess garlic sauce’ – something Trinis have taken to sharing digitally now.
Honestly, I have never experienced our style of garlic sauce anywhere else, and the closest equivalents I can think of are aioli and tzatzki (but even they are more extremely distant cousins), so I think a recipe is long overdue!
Garlic sauce is a flavour that many Trinis crave on savoury sides (especially sandwiches). Indeed, the now defunct local sandwich chain Boomers branded itself in its early days as a more desirable alternative to the ubiquitous Subway by proclaiming itself the only sub chain to offer Trini Garlic Sauce.
Subway of course quickly corrected this ‘oversight’, and now sub lovers can enjoy the flavour enhancement there as well!
So what exactly is the flavour? You’d be correct in assuming garlic (it is after all right there in the name) however, to me, the real twist comes from the balance of sweet and tart and the all-important chadon beni (culantro).
Chadon beni is one of those herbs that forms the backbone of savory Trinbagonian cuisine. Often people think that I am referring to cilantro, whenever I refer to it by its more international name culantro. However as you can see from this image, it looks quite different!
Update: (April 26, 2022)
Last year LoopTT published a piece on the “5 Things To Know About Chadon Beni”
1. Nutritious Properties5 Things To Know About Chadon Beni
Chadon beni is said to be rich in calcium, iron, carotene, and riboflavin. Not only that, the leaves are said to be a good source of vitamin A, B2, B1 and vitamin C.
2. Makes a good tea
Chadon beni has also been used in teas. In some cultures, chadon beni tea has been used for constipation, fevers, vomiting, diarrhoea and even diabetes. The name fitweed is purportedly from its anti-convulsant property.
Enjoy Trinidad Garlic Sauce on grilled meats, with french fries, over boiled cassava (or other boiled/steamed vegetables) or as a salad dressing. Once you’ve tried it once, you’ll definitely be craving more!
Sarina’s Trinidad-Style Garlic Sauce
- 10 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 3-4 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup chadon beni culantro
- Combine the first 4 ingredients in a blender until liquefied.10 cloves garlic, 1/2 cup white wine vinegar, 3-4 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt
- Taste and adjust seasonings to taste
- Turn blender on and slowly drizzle the olive oil so that the mixture emulsifies (the end result should be like an extremely light pourable mayonnaise.1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Taste again and readjust seasonings if needed.
- Add the 1/4 cup chadon beni and pulse gently until green flecks are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.1/4 cup chadon beni
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