In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

Were we making ceviche all along?


I think I was about 9 years old the very first time I had the opportunity to sample one of the Friday night rituals in Marabella. A small town, known for it’s vibrant weekend market and the hub for oil workers after work on a Friday evening. That ritual being “oyster cocktails”. A spicy drink made from oysters harvested that day in the Gulf Of Paria (eastern shores of Trinidad). You’d go over to the stall that sold it and had to choose how spicy, how large and what type of additional seasons you wanted as you placed your order. Street food at it’s best!

The stalls would be lined up around the same area (Marabella round-about)Β  that had people also selling doubles, roast corn, black pudding and many other delectable delights! The hardest thing was deciding which option to go with. However, the Oyster Cocktail was merely used as an appetizer… as far as I knew. Later on I learned that the older folks considered it an aphrodisiac and those with “plans” would stop by here first before going on their mission.

It’s been more than 20 years since I last had this, so what you’re about to experience is all from memory and what I could recall tasting (ingredients). I’m sure you may have a different version and I do encourage you to post yours in the comments box below.

You’ll need…

2 large oysters

3 pieces of chives (sliced thin)

1 clove of garlic (crushed, then minced)

1/2 large tomato – diced

1 large lemon (juice)

1 lime (juice)

1/4 cup cold water

1 teaspoon ketchup

dash black pepper

dash salt (as to your liking)

1 teaspoon soy sauce (optional)

3-5 leaves of shado beni or (3 tablespoons of cilantro minced)

1 habanero pepper (or your fav hot pepper)

Start by taking the oyster flesh from within the shell… if you notice there’s liquid in the shell, do keep that. Pour the oyster and any juices into a small container.




Now start by mincing all the ingredients into very small pieces. (garlic, chives, tomato, shado beni and habanero – include the seeds for that extra PUNCH!)




Place all the minced items in a bowl.



Go back to the bowl you have the Oysters in and place in on a cutting surface. Like everything else, you want to mince the 2 oysters as well.


Add everything into the bowl. Remember to get the oyster juice from the original container you had the oysters sitting in before you minced them. Now all the other ingredients, including the juice of the lime and lemon. Don’t forget the water and to taste for salt.



Mix everything around and allow to marinate a bit. I usually place it in a plastic container with a screw type lid into the fridge. How to serve? Get out those fancy “shot” glasses you’ve been collecting and fill each with a shot of this spicy aphrodisiac, then just before dinner serve chilled.


BTW, do you see the similarity to ceviche?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Patricia
    January 24, 2018 / 10:56 pm

    This is not ceviche recipe as I know it. I was born in Peru and Ceviche there is in every restaurant, street vendor, etc. However, it is white fish, marinated in lemon, lime, salt, pepper sauce, sliced red onions. Rhis marinade actually cooks the fish. It goes from raw to an opaque white before it is ready. Not trying the oyster version – do not like oysters.

    • Peter Roberts
      May 12, 2020 / 7:06 pm

      This is Trinidad not Peru..
      Adapt and get over it !

      • Lidia McKenzie-White
        December 19, 2020 / 9:24 am

        Be kind.

  2. CanadianBorn trinidadAdopted
    December 30, 2017 / 2:29 pm

    I remember this well in my many visits to T’Dad.

    Have you done doubles yet?
    And some of the fillings ie, cucumber, sweet sauce, chutney etc.

    Would love to see.


  3. Maureen Richards
    May 28, 2016 / 1:03 pm

    Chris… It seems to me that most of the things that is the norm for us in Trinidad is now so special to all the world. We had street food first, trash recycling, water conservation, our dances, back to the earth with our organic foods, lips, hips, and the like. Caribbean people better learn how to appreciate their beautiful countries, their people, their culture, foods etc. because the rest of the world now want what they have. People are even leaving the U.S. to go live in the “islands” for our beaches, breezes, foods and fun. We better appreciate ours before we lose it.

  4. November 24, 2015 / 7:33 pm

    I would prefer that the subject line of the email indicate what the included recipe is. Otherwise, I tend to delete these emails as I don’t know what’s being presented; e.g., I have no interest in ceviche oysters. I only opened the email this time just to see if there was anything of interest. Hereafter, I’m unlikely to open them.

    • admin
      November 25, 2015 / 3:44 pm

      save yourself the trouble and hit the unsubscribe link at the bottom of each email sent. it’s your right.

  5. Gloria
    June 6, 2015 / 8:10 am

    I am looking forward to making this!! Sounds and looks delish!!!

  6. April 24, 2015 / 3:12 am

    wonderful, wonderful oyster cocktail! Am looking forward to receiving the Vibrant Caribbean Pot cookbook asap–have lost the ordering info. Do clue me in–thanks so much.


  7. Melva
    March 11, 2015 / 10:20 pm

    I along with several family members love oysters and get together occasionally for an oyster fest. I will use this recipe for our end of o season get together.

    Thanks for sharing it.

    Melva M.

  8. Debbie
    September 16, 2014 / 5:37 pm

    this sounds awesome,but will the lime cook the oysters while everything is marinating.i can’t do slimy raw oyster

  9. Whizz
    September 12, 2014 / 11:00 am

    This sounds absolutely fantastic and has my mouth watering. I can’t wait to get near an ocean and try this!

  10. sally
    June 9, 2014 / 6:57 pm

    This is a cool recipe, Chris. I love oysters in any way, shape or form…thanks for this recipe and all of your others…I have quite a collection by now.

    AND…I am very excited…received my copy of The Vibrant Caribbean Pot today and I am thrilled….a beautiful and very, very useful cookbook…I just LOVE it!

  11. Delia Sookhoo
    March 31, 2014 / 9:03 am

    Hmmm…think i will stop Marabella by d roundabout fuh ah Oyster cocktail, after work…I am one of d “oil workers” after all…lol

  12. SuzyNorosky
    March 5, 2014 / 7:19 am

    You are bringing back so many memories for me! Around the Savannah we would stop to knock back some oyster cocktails! Delicious!!! Thanks for the memories and the recipe!

  13. Carol
    February 2, 2014 / 6:46 pm

    Great recipe as usual. Not a fan of oyster, shell fish etc. I know exactly where you spoke about, the Marabella roundabout. In your introduction you mentioned the Gulf of Paria, if memory serves me correctly, it is off the west coast of Trinidad, not the east as stated.

  14. January 23, 2014 / 3:45 pm

    I will try it soon, looking forward to it. I love, love oysters and can never get enough.

  15. Frank Mosher
    March 15, 2013 / 9:54 am

    I would like to try this, because I love to serve any food in shot glasses, however, I am concerned about one thing: Is there too much acid before I make this, i.e. juice of one whole lemon plus juice of one lime? I only see a tablespoon of ketchup to balance? Secondly, in Canada (as you know) the custom is generally to "shoot "oysters raw with a touch of lemon or hot sauce or plain, or bake in the oven as Rockerfeller or Casino, etc. A ceviche with delicate oysters seems like a pity? Why couldn't we substitute some other seafood? Any Caribbean substitutes?

    • Delia Sookhoo
      March 31, 2014 / 8:59 am

      Put about 1 tbsp of brown sugar it works great!

  16. Meg
    February 25, 2013 / 10:14 am

    Chris this is the best !!!!
    I love it..
    Thank you sooo much…
    Meg xx

  17. Seeta
    January 18, 2013 / 8:41 pm

    Hi Chris, Its been a while since I was able to respond, I truly love your site and have introduced it to my girls and they are both enjoying it and making as many dishes as time and ingredients allow. You are doing a great job of keeping Trini recipes alive. Love, Love Love it. Keep the post coming!!!!
    P.S we live is western canada and don't always get "fresh" ingredients, but we make do with substitutions and they always turn out great.

  18. Prince
    November 23, 2012 / 1:16 pm

    Hi Chris
    Just to remind you, since the colonial masters left we have a new breed .
    Masa day eh done we just replace the colour.
    All your efforts are appreciated especially by myself and friends in London UK.
    Youe informal attitudes and effort reminds me of teh following as follows:

  19. Prince
    November 23, 2012 / 1:09 pm

    Thanks Chris
    All your efforts are appreciated on the the web and otherwise.
    Matbe some of us should listen to a calypso by the name of Appreciation. Maybe the developing world would progress faster if we entertain less experts and more practical people like yourself Chris.
    Trinidad is the land of experts, many know an answer to the any qustion before you ask it, and a greater amount know Einstein is wrong and the answer could be found in Trinidad behind a oil down and a few bottles of Rum, or highest end whiskey for priviledged elite.
    Remember the Trini elite class came on separate ships.
    Thanks again Chris in my book you are the best, no frills.

  20. Sharon Gittens
    November 2, 2012 / 5:24 pm


    As always, thank you for your I feel homesick

  21. leonile murray
    September 10, 2012 / 11:28 am

    chris, Do you boil the oyster or scald it or something. thank you . I will like to know. Is it to be eaten raw?

  22. January 18, 2012 / 7:08 pm


  23. dianna
    November 15, 2011 / 11:32 pm

    this looks great, tnx u for your great recipes

  24. Claudette
    May 31, 2011 / 7:35 pm

    Sorry, but I can’t support you with this one. Oyster, squid and such water creatures don’t appeal to me. But I do understand that you specialise in a variety of dishes and cater for people of different background. Keep up the good work.

  25. Melanie
    February 26, 2011 / 3:41 am

    OMG – thanks for putting the recipe on here! I was born in TnT and last visited when I was 12 some 25 years ago!!! My mouth still waters thinking about this cocktail !!! I will defo be sourcing the ingredients and hopefully quench a desire to have one again πŸ™‚ thanks again!!! Callalooloo soup next stop!!! Lol πŸ™‚

    Melanie x

  26. dianae hutchinson
    December 5, 2010 / 1:58 pm

    interesting recipe , dont care too much for it , but i guess to each his own.I remember seeing those oyster vendors as a child growing up in Tunapuna and i always wondered how people could swallow those icky,slimy oysters,Don't see too many vendors anymore as there seems to be a scarcity of oysters.

  27. August 6, 2010 / 1:40 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! I served a two year mission in Trinidad years ago and have had cravings for this drink ever since. Finally I found a recipe!

  28. Praim Sankar
    May 17, 2010 / 12:14 pm

    I always try to have at least one oyster cocktail dueing my vacation.
    The Marabella round about is where I get it.
    I don't have any that is already in the glass. I want to see him open them for me.
    After the cocktail I walk a few yards over to the coconut truck to cool things down.
    Nice post.

    • June 17, 2010 / 3:15 am

      Like the point about non-glass ones… at least you'll know it's freshly made.

      • David Sammy
        November 19, 2012 / 9:01 am

        You are right about getting it opened on the spot for you. I visited back home from the U.S. in 2010 and found out the hard way. I got it from some random guy we saw at the side of the road when we were driving by a few minutes after getting off the plane somewhere in San Juan and boi did I pay for it LOL I had an upset stomach for about 5 Out of the 10 days I had in Trinidad. The Oysters were not fresh. So you do have to be careful who you're getting it from. And do stick with a regular Oyster guy if you know one. Chris thanks so much for giving us the gift of food, memories and laughter from back. We might not be back there to enjoy it all, but having a little taste of trini is a lot better than having nothing at all. Best wishes brother for the coming new year.

  29. liza
    January 27, 2010 / 3:17 am

    Chris I never like this thing call oysters I live Arima and around the veladrome their is a man that sell oysters. I dont know how people could eat that.

    • admin
      January 31, 2010 / 3:35 pm

      Liza, you’re not alone. It’s one of those things you either like or dislike. Ever wondered who came up with the idea to crack open this rock looking thing found in the ocean and eat the insides?

      happy cooking


  30. January 26, 2010 / 7:04 am

    hi Chris I think you got it right down pat, its still being made all over T’dad like this maybe with a little more zing, unfortunately my family are great fans of oysters, but not me but can”t stomach raw oysters, anyway from my kitchen to yours keep rolling in those Trine recipes. bye for now.

    • admin
      January 31, 2010 / 3:48 pm

      taramatteelalla nice to hear from you again. We were on the islands back in October and my sister went crazy trying to source an oyster salesman. We finally found one around 11pm around the savanna.

      happy cooking


  31. September 27, 2009 / 8:22 pm

    That is exactly how it is done in most parts of Trinidad.
    Cynthis’s comments are so true, the world does not give proper recognition to Caribbean cuisine.
    But worry not, because they can use the recipe however much they want but the method that we use would be very difficult for them to understand….that is because we put a lot of love in our cooking.
    Great stuff, keep up the good work.

  32. September 18, 2009 / 8:15 pm

    Hello Cynthia, you have no idea how much I look forward to your comments. As someone I look up to..thanks! Keep doing what you’re doing in Bim, so we can all learn and spread the culture.

    Happy Cooking.
    .-= Chris De La Rosa´s last blog ..Profile of the Fiery Scotch Bonnet Pepper. =-.

  33. August 19, 2009 / 12:58 pm

    Chris, your comments and the title of this post is what I have been saying all along about Caribbean cuisine – we do it all, it is just called a different name and sometimes said out of the mouths of people who the world give more credence to!
    .-= Cynthia´s last blog ..At the heart of a row: Chicken Tikka Masala =-.

  34. Chris De La Rosa
    June 29, 2009 / 9:59 am

    Arlene, thanks for dropping by and leaving your comment. The last couple times we were in TnT we didn’t stay in my beloved ‘south” and only had a chance to visit during the day so I didn’t get a chance to check the scenes as I normally do. Glad to know that those fellas are still there.

    I do agree.. spicy is always better!

    Do keep coming back and sharing your comments.

  35. arlene
    June 27, 2009 / 7:41 am

    Hey chris i’m from Trinidad and i wanted you to know that Marabella roundabout is just as you remember with the oyster, guys such as toni and gary still sell there. I like mines with more ketchup the red colour and very spicy as we say it must lash!

  36. Chris De La Rosa
    June 25, 2009 / 11:27 am

    Charles, like with everything you prepare you have full control over what you add and not include. Cooking is about being creative. Personally I’ve never had it with booze in it, however I’m sure you could add a bit of vodka to this. I say vodka, simply because it will not over-power the taste of all the fresh ingredients we used.



  37. charles batzel
    June 24, 2009 / 11:04 pm

    I kind of expected some liquor to be included in an oyster cocktail.
    Do any oyster cocktails contain any liquor?????

  38. Chris De La Rosa
    June 20, 2009 / 6:50 pm

    Tom, thanks for your comments. The funny thing is the “real” vegetarians that I know from my childhood days won’t even go within 10 feet of fish, eggs etc. But we now have a cool name for them..vegans! So to further break down this world that we live into more groups.. we now have vegetarians and vegans. As far as I’m concerned, it’s fine where it is.

    BTW the real vegetarians that I speak about are the ones who were born into it as part of their religion. Not because it’s cool, the latest fad or trying to prove a point due to some agenda.

    Again, thanks.

  39. June 20, 2009 / 6:18 pm

    Oysters are animals.
    Vegetarians do not eat animals.
    Therefore, vegetarians do not eat oysters.

    I suggest you move this recipe from the “vegetarian” section to the “fish” section and then rename that section “seafood”.

  40. June 15, 2009 / 10:02 pm

    Love reading about recreating recipes. It’s really impressive how you were able to make this based on memory alone πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *