Our Caribbean neighbours, St. Lucia and Puerto Rico in particular, commonly use green bananas in salads. In St Lucia, it is known as ‘fig salad’ and in Puerto Rico ‘guineos escabeche’. Both I enjoy tremendously. This adaptation pays homage to our Spanish speaking neighbour. I have “Jamaicanised” my version by leaving out the green olives and adding thyme and marjoram, herbs commonly found in our markets, our most famous spice pimento (aka allspice) and our fiery scotch bonnet which is a prominent component of our escoveitch pickle which we use on fish and is escabeche’s cousin. Jamaica was a former Spanish colony and the Spanish Jews fleeing the Inquisition who settled on the island brought this style of cooking with them.
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.
- 12 green bananas
- 250ml/1 cup olive oil
- 250ml/1 cup white cane vinegar
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 scotch bonnet, left whole
- 1 tsp pimento grains
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 sprigs of marjoram
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- Prepare a pot of boiling water with a squeeze of lime juice and a dash of oil.
- Rinse off bananas, trim the ends of each banana and slit the skin lengthways leaving the bananas in their skins. Add to boiling water and cook for roughly 20-25 minutes or until bananas are fork-tender.
- In a medium non-reactive saucepan, add olive oil, vinegar, onion, scotch bonnet, pimento, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and marjoram together, bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer over a medium-low heat until onions have softened and slightly caramelised and the liquid reduced by half, about 30 minutes then remove from heat and cool down to room temperature.
- Peel bananas and slice them into chunks. Discard skins.
- Add to the pickling liquid and toss to coat all of the pieces. Marinate for at least 2 hours and serve at room temperature or chilled.
Jacqui ‘JuicyChef’ Sinclair, founder of Nyam & Trod, is a British Jamaican award-winning chef, writer, and food culturist. She is a co-founder of Kingston Kitchen, an annual food event supporting food artisans. Jacqui has been an advocate of the Meatless Monday Global movement in Jamaica since 2011. Jacqui’s work has been featured in such publications as the Huffington Post, the Jamaica Observer, Saveur, The Jewish Post and numerous blogs. She has appeared on the Travel Channel’s ‘Bizarre Foods’ with Andrew Zimmern and Food & Wine’s Jamaica episode with Kwame Onwuachi.