I have to confess that as a kid growing up on the islands, we never had chow chow with our Christmas ham. However, the variety of ‘pepper sauce” (hot sauce) mom would always have in the kitchen, was all we ever needed. Well that, some soy sauce and ketchup (wicked combo..trust me). In some parts of the Trinidad and Tobago it’s customary to have chow chow, which is somewhat like the cross between a relish and pickle with their slices of holiday ham. With all the requests I’ve been getting on the facebook fan page, I decided to share this traditional chow chow recipe with you all, just in time for the Christmas season.
I cup carrot
1 cup cauliflower
1 cup green beans *
2 cups sweet peppers (bell peppers..red and green)
1 cup onion *
1 cup zucchini *
6 pimento peppers (aka seasoning peppers)
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons turmeric*
3 1/2 cups vinegar
3 tablespoon mustard
2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon grated ginger
Notes: You’ll need salt and water to form a brine for soaking the vegetables overnight. I used green beans, but traditionally bodi or yard beans are used. Typically a cooking onion would work, but I used a white/sweet onion. The zucchini is not traditional to this recipe, but as I opened the fridge this morning… it started screaming “me! me! me!” so in the pot it went.Turmeric is what we call sorfran in Trinidad and Tobago. If you can’t source the pimento peppers, opt for any pepper with flavor and not heat.
The first step is to dice the vegetables into tiny pieces and soak them overnight in a simple brine. Please try to cut all the vegetables the same size.
Then place all the chopped vegetables in a large bowl, add the salt (about 1 heaping tablespoon) and cover with water. Be sure to mix well so the salt dissolves and store overnight.
The next day it’s time to put this chow chow recipe together. In a large pot, place the vinegar, turmeric, sugar, mustard, ginger, cloves and corn starch, whisk as you bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Do remember to keep whisking.
Now strain this liquid to remove the cloves and any lumps and return back to the pot on medium heat. Drain the vegetables and add to the pot.
Give everything a good stir and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a rolling boil/simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes of until it thickens up like a relish.
Do remember to stir every few minutes so everything gets incorporated well with each other for that perfectly blended chow chow. It will thicken up further as it cools, so try to keep that in mind. Store in clean glass bottles in the fridge or preserve (store in sterilize glass containers while hot) as you would normally do with summer fruits.
I’ve put some aside for testing as a relish with grilled hot dogs and sausages next summer when it’s grilling season. But for now.. it’s all about chow chow and ham this Christmas morning.