As a young fella on the islands my brother and I would always volunteer to go help dad in the garden whenever we knew cucumbers were in season. We had a stash of salt and a few cloves of garlic in the make-shift shed, where dad would take his breaks from the midday sun. With scotch bonnet pepper (congo as we’d say) and shado beni fresh from the garden.. we’d always make a huge bowl of this ‘chow’ with the ‘baby’ cucumbers (always the sweetest). Immediately after we’d hit the river to go fishing, followed by hours of swimming in the cool refreshing waters of the Guaracara river. Funny thing is dad never got our assistance, but he never peeped a word to mom!
6 Dill cucumbers
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 lemon (juice)
8-12 cherry tomatoes
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper (no seeds)
2 tablespoons cilantro (chopped)
1 clove garlic (crused or diced fine)
1/2 small red onion (optional)
Note: you can use any cucumber you have on hand and the option to peel or not is totally up to you. Remember to wear gloves when handling scotch bonnet peppers and to wash your hands immediately after with soap and water. You can cut back or use more of the pepper if you wish. Traditionally we would use shado beni (culantro) instead of the cilantro.
It was early summer when I did this recipe so I had access to what’s called dill cucumbers (basically small cucumbers) for this recipe, but you can use any cucumber you have on hand. You have the option of peeling or not. In my case, these small cucumbers are quite sweet and I find that the skin adds a lovely texture to it all. What I would recommend doing is not only washing them very well, but to soak them in cool water to make sure all the dirt and sand drops of them.
Cut the stems and bottoms off and cut into spears and place in a large bowl. I also had some cherry tomatoes, so I opted to add them to the salad/chow for some added flavor, color and texture. You can use any tomato you have.
Crush or dice the garlic very finely, chop the cilantro and you can dice the scotch bonnet or cut it into large pieces so when you serve it, your guests can easily identify the pieces and avoid them.
Basically all you’re doing at this point is assembling everything together and giving it a good toss. For best results, allow it to chill and marinate in the fridge for about 1/2 hour.
If you’re new to Caribbean cuisine or this website, ‘chow’ is basically a spicy pickle we make with tart fruits.. in most cases green mangoes, pineapple etc. In this case we used cucumbers with the same sort of effect.. except, you’ll get a more juicy and refreshing finish.
If you don’t have lemons you can use lime or orange juice for a different flavor profile and if spicy is not your thing.. you can leave out the scotch bonnet pepper. In the video below you’ll notice that I didn’t add any red onions.. so that is totally optional.