Bajan Pepper Sauce
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Recipe: Bajan Pepper Sauce

Denise with our finished pepper sauce

Denise with our finished pepper sauce

Greetings from London, I am back. The first day of Spring (really?!), in Ireland, Earrach (Ar-ock) and the 1st is St Brigid’s Day, where we traditionally made the St Brigid’s crosses. I wonder if kids still do that now?

Everyone was secretly hoping I would be miserable, I think (you were!) but, I love London, and the weather doesn’t really bother me, mainly as I have been away from it for a bit. Plus it is not long until I go away again so I want to soak London up. There is so much to write about Barbados though, and there are those recipes too, so it will live on here for a few more days at least.

The first thing I will share is the recipe for Denise’s Pepper Sauce. For the uninitiated, Bajan pepper sauce is delicious and is served with everything. Recipes and preferences vary but, generally, it is quite spicy (for the UK palate at least) but some are very hot and some a bit cooler. I like mine in the middle somewhere. This one, that I am sharing now, is HOT but, really delicious.

The interesting thing for me is how much turmeric went in it. I love fresh tumreric and use it over dried a lot. It requires prep though so I sometimes opt for powder when pressed for time. Bright yellow, a rhizome like ginger, it stains fiercely, be warned. I have had yellow hands that looked like I was an incredibly clumsy smoker for days after using it the first time. I now use gloves. It is worth seeking out as it is quite different to dried, with beautiful aromas, almost floral. Turmeric is terrifically healthy with anti inflammatory and anti oxidant properties too, it is also said to help prevent cancer and recent studies indicate it may help with lipid metabolism and weight loss.

Denise, a chef at The Club in Barbados where I stayed, shared her mother Thelma’s recipe with me, which I am so grateful for. This is the one I am sharing her with you now. Her mother passed away 2 years ago, and her recipes were her legacy to Denise. She still makes her Bajan seasonings, pepper sauce etc. Her pepper sauce recipe is traditional, and basically is composed of turmeric for colour (it also adds a lovely aromatic quality), chillies for heat, onions for consistency, vinegar thins it out and preserves it, mustard gives it an extra bass note and helps with the consistency too. A pinch of brown sugar balances it.

I took notes as we went, Denise adds as she goes and knows what she is looking for. It is a terrific and quite hot sauce. If you want it milder, add more vinegar and mustard (they use a mild American style mustard), or stretch it with some conrnflour & water. This is what they do for commercial pepper sauces. Personally, I think it takes from the flavour but if you want to reduce the heat, this is one approach you can use.

I have some recipes coming up that use this as an ingredients. Both Bajan recipes, and recipes of my own that use it as an ingredient, including a twist on Sunday roast chicken, which I am very excited about.

Whole turmeric

Whole turmeric

Peeled and chopped turmeric

Peeled and chopped turmeric

Note on the recipe: fresh turmeric is widely available in London in Asian shops and Chinese shops. It looks like skinny small ginger. Fiddly but worth it. I have also seen it in Asda too, so keep an eye out for it. If you can’t get it, don’t worry. I will be publishing my own recipe soon once I have played around a bit, and I will make a version without fresh turmeric.

Turmeric

Turmeric

Adding the peppers. PHWOAR!

Adding the peppers. PHWOAR!

Pepper sauce before vinegar and mustard

Pepper sauce before vinegar, sugar and mustard

Finished pepper sauce

Finished pepper sauce

Recipe: Bajan Pepper Sauce
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Eat like a Bajan: Cooking Bajan Sunday Lunch with Heather in Barbados

Heather, one of the chefs at The Club, who generously invited me into her home to teach me to cook Bajan food. Here with Mac Pie.

Heather, one of the chefs at The Club, who generously invited me into her home to teach me to cook Bajan food. Here with Mac Pie.

On arrival in Barbados, you quickly learn a few things. Things from Barbados are Bajan, and Barbados is affectionately known locally as BIM. The people here are so warm, friendly and very generous.

I am always asking lots of questions about food – as you know – as I try to understand what the local food culture is and where it comes from. This nosiness I am sure can annoy, but in Barbados people loved to share, and one lady, Heather, a chef from The Club where I am staying, invited me to her home to cook a traditional Sunday lunch.

How exciting. It is the best thing that I could hope for when visiting another country.

Local neighbourhood where I went to cook in Barbados

Local neighbourhood where I went to cook in Barbados

Heather lives in a lovely neighbourhood, calm, near the sea, and primarily composed of the traditional Bajan chattel houses, lovely wooden homes, usually small, some big, almost always colourful. Heather welcomed me with a traditional Bajan lemonade (recipe soon!) and we got started.

Mac pie, a key part of Bajan Sunday lunch

Mac pie, a key part of Bajan Sunday lunch

The traditional Sunday lunch here has mac pie (a Bajan take on mac & cheese, with lots of spice flavour, and long strands of macaroni), rice and peas (we used local green peas, gumbo peas or split peas are also used), Bajan fried fish, pork or chicken, butter sauce / gravy (a spicy fruity buttery sauce) and coleslaw. Again, a Bajan interpretation with some spice.

Bajan fried mahi mahi (dolphin but not as we know it)

Bajan fried mahi mahi (dolphin but not as we know it)

The macaroni for the mac pie comes in long strands like spaghetti and you break it as long as you want, ours were about three inches long. We cooked mahi mahi (known locally as dolphin), marinated first in lime and salt, as all meat or fish is here before cooking, then stuffed with Bajan seasoning, a Bajan chimmichurri of sorts but much thicker and not used as a dip. It was a wonderful time, I have taken notes on all of the recipes, and I will cook them and write my take on them when I get home.

Bajan lemonade - so refreshing

Bajan lemonade – so refreshing

Cooking a traditional Bajan Sunday lunch

Cooking a traditional Bajan Sunday lunch – loved these colourful curtains

So, watch out for that, and in the meantime, enjoy the photos. I leave Barbados today, on the red eye to London. Very sad to leave but excited to get home and cook, and share lots of Bajan recipes with you.

Stuffing mahi mahi with Bajan seasoning

Stuffing mahi mahi with Bajan seasoning

Seasoned flour to coat the fish

Seasoned flour to coat the fish

Butter sauce / gravy

Butter sauce / gravy

Macpie

Macpie

Bajan fried fish

Bajan fried fish

Heather in her kitchen

Heather in her kitchen

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A Postcard from Barbados

The wild and gorgeous east coast of Barbados

The wild and gorgeous north coast of Barbados

Well, hello there! And greetings, now from Barbados. I am on the second leg of my Caribbean break, nearing the end of it, this time at The Club in Barbados.

It has been a super week. I have gotten under the skin of Bajan food, learned to cook it, had lots of gorgeous fresh local fish and a few cocktails. Typically, I finish with a backlog of all the things that I wanted to do but didn’t. So, I start at 8.30am tomorrow with a trip to see some turtles, cooking in the kitchen here and getting a recipe for pepper sauce (I love that stuff!) and I am going to finish it all with a massage and facial. Then back to London overnight on Wednesday and straight back into meetings and insanity.

Here are some photo highlights. Back soon with recipes, stories and lots more photos.

Bajan fishing boats, Barbados. And people swimming behind!

Bajan fishing boats, Barbados. And people swimming behind!

Heather, one of the chefs at The Club, who generously invited me into her home to teach me to cook Bajan food. Here with Mac Pie.

Heather, one of the chefs at The Club, who generously invited me into her home to teach me to cook Bajan food. Here with Mac Pie.

Cornmeal cou cou which I learned to make at Enid's Cooking School at The CLub - recipe along with others, soon

Cornmeal cou cou which I learned to make at Enid’s Cooking School at The Club – recipe along with others, soon

Bajan fish cakes in Bridgetown

Bajan fish cakes in Bridgetown

Mural at the Catholic church / school

Mural at the Catholic church / school

Bridgetown, so colourful

Bridgetown, so colourful

Taking it easy in Bridgetown

Taking it easy in Bridgetown

Morris Greenidge, a local historian, who I went on a fascinating tour of Bridgetown with

Morris Greenidge, a local historian, who I went on a fascinating tour of Bridgetown with

The synagogue in Bridgetown - fascinating history, more soon

The synagogue in Bridgetown – fascinating history, more soon

Granny's at Oistins

Granny’s at Oistins

Playing dominoes at Oistins

Playing dominoes at Oistins

Soaking it up at Oistins

Soaking it up at Oistins

Lobster on the grill at Oistins

Lobster on the grill at Oistins

Oistins, Barbados

Oistins, Barbados

Uncle George at Oistins

Uncle George at Oistins

The grill at Uncle Georges with flying fish in the foreground

The grill at Uncle Georges with flying fish in the foreground

BBQ pig tails, possibly the best thing EVER

BBQ pig tails, possibly the best thing EVER

Bathsheba, Barbados

Bathsheba, Barbados

Bajan surfer at Bathsheba, Barbados

Bajan surfer at Bathsheba, Barbados

Old plantation windmill

Old plantation windmill

This crazy little bird was trying to steal my biscuits

This crazy little bird was trying to steal my biscuits

Cotton growing in Barbados

Cotton growing in Barbados

Cotton field in Barbados

Cotton field in Barbados

Door

Door

The wild and gorgeous east coast of Barbados - up close

The wild and gorgeous north coast of Barbados – up close

The Cliff - amazing location and beautifully designed, good food too!

The Cliff – amazing location and beautifully designed, good food too!

A rum baba at The Cliff, with some Mount Gay Very Old Rum

A rum baba at The Cliff, with some Mount Gay Very Old Rum

Mar-tea-ni at The Cliff, Barbados

Mar-tea-ni at The Cliff, Barbados

Travel Info: I am in Barbados on the Barbados Blogathon, sponsored by Tropical Sky & Elite Island Resorts.