Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 18th 2016 Contents • Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
SATURDAY, JUNE 18, 2016
Caribbean cooks love to cook with herbs
and a weekly trip to the market will always
include a few bundles of "seasoning." This
bundle usually includes a few bunches of
chives with roots attached, a small sprig of
French thyme, and a few leaves of celery,
and maybe on occasion, parsley.
Once home, the cook would wash and cut
the herbs, then grind them in a food processor
or blender. More often than not, more herbs
are added to the mixture. This will usually
include a bunch of chadon beni (which
flavours like cilantro), more celery, and a
bunch of French thyme (fine thyme as it is
also known), Spanish thyme (broad leaf
thyme) and sometimes Portuguese thyme
(oregano), some pimento peppers and even
This has become such a ritual that food
manufacturers offer a bottled ground sea-
soning, which really has been so processed
that the concept of fresh seasoning in a bottle
The home cook who proudly produces
their own version of freshly ground seasoning
will soon find that all their food will have
the same flavour. Why? Because when this
cornucopia of fresh herbs is ground together,
the stronger herbs overpower the more del-
icate ones and often the result is not very
Thyme is a great culinary herb and is a
classic addition to many Caribbean pots.
There are three varieties that are distinct to
the Caribbean and each variety brings its
own aroma and flavour to every recipe. Why
not take the time to learn and enjoy the
flavours of each kind of thyme?
French thyme or fine leaved thyme is a
classic herb with small leaves, tough stems
and tiny mauve flowers. It smells warm,
earthy and flowery. It s a little pungent and
has a clove-like aroma. Seldom does it grow
much past ten inches in height. It s wonderful
when solely included in baked chicken or
roasted fish. It s also quite good in tomato
based sauces and local soups that have to
simmer for a while.
Spanish thyme is quite the opposite to
French thyme, it has large green, jagged-edge
leaves that are almost two inches in diametre.
The leaves and stems are quite soft and
watery. Spanish thyme grows to shrub like
size, and has a wonderful musky aroma,
enhanced by lemon. This herb can be ground
and used as a chutney with East Indian del-
icacies and it s also called podina. Spanish
thyme pairs well with seafood---especially
conchs, lambie and fresh fish---and is best if
added at very end of cooking. This thyme is
also a favourite with French Caribbean cooks.
Portuguese thyme has an aroma similar
to Greek oregano, it is very spicy and is best
used in dishes that require a highly seasoned
taste like meat stuffing, beans, lamb roasts
and Italian sauces.
Taking the time to appreciate each of these
distinctive and aromatic thymes will indeed
add a new dimension to our already delicious
cuisine and in turn make you a better cook
HERB STUFFED OPEN
FACED FISH FILLETS
11/2 lb fish fillets, cut into portion sizes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced chives
1/2 tsp salt and fresh black pepper
FOR THE STUFFING
1 tbsp coconut oil or butter
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp chopped chive
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped sweet red pepper
6 to 8 small shrimp chopped
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh French thyme
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to
• Combine oil with garlic, chives, salt and
pepper, rub onto snapper and let marinate
for 20 minutes.
• Heat one tbsp oil in a sauté pan; add
onion, chive, garlic, and pepper, sauté until
• Add shrimp. Sauté for five minutes, add
breadcrumbs and salt and pepper.
• Add cheese and one tablespoon of water,
stir to bring stuffing together, (add more
water if necessary), add parsley, thyme and
• Taste and adjust seasoning. Cool.
• Preheat broiler.
• Place fish fillets onto a baking tray and
place under broiler for three minutes,
• Turn fish over.
• Spoon stuffing onto fillets and replace
• Broil for another four minutes until fish is
opaque and flakes easily.
• Remove and serve at once.
• Serves four.
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