Green Banana and Saltfish: A Guide to St Lucia Cuisine
St Lucia cuisine is a delicious melting pot of French, East Indian and British influences, all served up with a Caribbean twist. Volcanic soil and year-round sunshine means that a huge variety of vegetables and tropical fruit thrive on St Lucia, and are the starring ingredients in many traditional dishes.
Miles of golden, sandy coastline and an active, sustainable fishing industry results in an abundance of fresh fish and shellfish. It’s no surprise that seafood is the main source of protein for locals, and is found on every St Lucian restaurant’s menu. The most famous and unique resident of St Lucia’s waters (and eventually plates!) is the spiny lobster. This delicacy is served in many ways, from traditional Creole bisques to expertly prepared sushi.
Key Ingredients in St Lucia Cuisine
Perhaps the most important of all St Lucia ingredients — and a key component in the national dish — is the banana. Banana farming is a booming industry in St Lucia, and there’s a high chance you’ve eaten one of their millions of exported fruits since they’re a main supplier for British supermarkets. In fact, as much as 80% of all the bananas eaten in Britain come from St Lucia and the other Windward Islands.
A few short years ago, many banana plantations were at risk of closure as South American competitors drove prices down. The Fairtrade initiative turned this around by ensuring a fair price for produce and improved working conditions for farms around the globe, providing a much needed boost to the previously ailing industry.
Other popular fruits include mangoes, avocadoes, pineapple, papaya, plantains and coconuts. These are used in sweet and savoury dishes alike, and commonly eaten alone as a refreshing, healthy dessert.
One of the more unusual staples of St Lucia cuisine is the breadfruit. Breadfruit are large, round fruits with a tough green skin. The flesh must be cooked before consumption and its taste is most commonly compared to that of a potato or bread, though it does become sweeter when very ripe. They are often grilled, roasted or boiled. The high fibre and protein content coupled with its relatively low number of calories has lead to the breadfruit being branded a “superfood” prized by health-conscious people.
Commonly eaten vegetables includes aubergines, potatoes, courgettes and yams.
In addition to the spiny lobster, popular seafood includes cod, tuna, mahi mahi, dorado, snapper, tilapia, squid, crab, scallops and mussels. One of the best occasions to sample fresh fish is the Anse La Raye Fish Fry, which is a weekly Friday-night tradition with music and barbecues.
Traditional St Lucia Dishes
Green Figs and Saltfish
The national dish of St Lucia is green figs and saltfish. The name is a bit of a misnomer, with the “figs” actually being unripe bananas. Cod preserved in salt is cooked along with the bananas, cabbage, tomatoes, onions and garlic, and spiced up with red chillies. It’s essential that you try this at least once during your stay in beautiful St Lucia — don’t let the idea of banana in a savoury dish put you off! You’ll find green figs and saltfish on the menu at most restaurants, and locals will even prepare it for breakfast.
The comforting, green callaloo soup is popular all over the Caribbean and there are several variants available in the region. The main ingredient is of course callaloo, which are the leaves of the amaranth plant. Other versions may use taro leaves and outside of the Caribbean, it is often made with water spinach.
Accras are essentially fishcakes. Flaked salted cod is combined with herbs and chilli, rolled into balls and deep fried. These are popular street foods and are often served during festivals. They’re also occasionally eaten as a breakfast food, served alongside locally-produced black pudding.
It’s entirely possible that you’re already a fan of banana cake but the St Lucian version is a treat not to be missed. St Lucian chefs add pineapple, orange juice and nuts for extra sweetness and a unique texture. It’s a true tropical treat.
In all its forms! Cocoa beans are farmed in several locations on the island and the finished product is enjoyed in meals, drinks and even spa treatments. Every August, the month-long celebration of chocolate will encompass several events that honour the importance of the cocoa bean in St Lucia cuisine and the island’s history.
St Lucia cuisine is colourful, vibrant and comforting. We hope this short overview has helped whet your appetite and you’re excited to experience the tropical flavours and traditional dishes with a visit to The Landings Spa & Beach Resort. Get in touch with the team today who would be happy to chat about life as an owner of 5* beachfront property on the friendly island of St Lucia.