Trini Christmas, 101: How to Make Pastelles, Black Cake + Chow Chow

December 24, 2013

Chow Chow


We all know about Christmas ham, but in Trinidad, it is sacrilegious to offer a slice of meat without this sauce at the side. Although it is the centerpiece of the season, a true Trini knows ham is nothing without the Chow Chow. By the way, it is mandatory to offer a piece to anyone that comes over

1 cup carrot
1 cup cauliflower
1 cup bodi (or green beans)
2 cups sweet peppers (bell and green)
1 cup onion
6 pimento peppers
10 cloves
6 tbsp sugar
2tbsp turmeric (saffron)
3 1/2 cups vinegar
3 tbsp mustard
2 tbsp cornstarch
2tbsp grated ginger
1tbsp salt

Dice vegetables into tiny pieces, trying to ensure that all are cut to similar sizes. Add salt and pour in water until contents are completely covered. Leave this brine/veggie mixture overnight. The next day, whisk vinegar, turmeric, sugar, mustard, ginger, cloves and corn starch, in a large saucepan on high heat until it comes to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15mins, stirring continuously. Strain liquid into another saucepan which is then to be placed on the stove, again at low heat. Add drained vegetables to this sauce and boil for 10-15mins until it thickens somewhat. Please note that once removed from heat the chow chow will continue to thicken a bit. Store in clean glass bottles in the fridge or if you wish to preserve for longer, pour into sterilized glass containers while hot.