Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sauces & Pickles

Sauces, Pickles and more...

Sauces and pickles are major components to Haitian cuisine.  As one will realise, there are various types of sauces, that accompany each Haitian dishes.  Rice, Corn, Millet or Bulgur Wheat are never served without some type of a sauce.  May it be a bean sauce or simply a vegetable or meat sauce. 

This sauce page is dedicated to the side sauces that one finds in this particular cuisine.  For bean sauces, please refer to the Bean and Pulses page.  

Haitian cuisine is not spicy "hot".  Although Scotch Bonnet pepper is added to ever dish during the cooking process it is more to perfume the dish not to alter the taste.  The pepper is added unbroken.  For heat/spice, these sauces are provided where the cook can actually add the spice or one can say the heat that one may desire and it is almost like an added punch to the food and added flavor.  Latin American and the Caribbean has a wealth of peppers which goes hand in hand with the heat tropical heat.   There are as much of an infinite variety to choose from as for "Pimentades". 

In Haiti there are four main peppers that one brings to the table when discussing food.  Two of them are from the Capsicum annuum family, Piment oiseaux/Bird eye pepper, Piment de Cayenne/Cayenne pepper which was discovered in Haiti by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage; and the Capsicumm Chinense family, Scotch Bonnet Pepper and Piment Bouc. This pepper has a wonderful fruity perfume and it is omnipresent in Haitian cooking specially in sauce Ti'Malice and Poisson Gros Sel.  Very aromatique and less powerful than the other pepper in the Chinense variety.

During colonial time, the pirates, maroons, deportees, outlaws, living on Tortuga Island which is one of the coastal island of Haiti, relished those explosive "Pimentades" to accompany their grilled meat or seafood and they would tame it down with several shots of punchs.  It was always a joyful ambiance; these pimentades have survived into our food legacy and have remain as one of the foundation of caribbean cookery today.  



1 lime
3 scotch bonnet pepper
coarse salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of oil

Squeeze the lime.  Cut the peppers and remove the seeds without touching it with your fingers.  Grind the pepper with the salt, pepper and the lime juice.

Add oil.  Just a few dots is sufficient to perfume a dish.


Picklese is the famous pickled vegetables and hot peppers that Haitian serves as a side item to their food.  It is another version of a coleslaw to the exception that it has hot peppers and it is marinated in a lot of vinegar and lime.  Each families have a version of their picklese but the basics remain the same.  Most families have a bottle of picklese in their refrigerator or their cupboard.  All ingredients are made from fresh vegetables no canned items.

Yield: Makes 1 quart

6 Scotch bonnet pepper
2 cups thinly sliced or shredded cabbage
½ cup thinly sliced or shredded carrots
¼ cup thinly sliced or shredded onion
¼ cup green peas (frozen)4 whole cloves
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
8 to 10 peppercorns (optional)
3 cups vinegar

Snip off the stem of the peppers, cut each into 4 pieces, and keep the seeds. Place hot peppers, cabbage, carrots, onion, green peas, cloves, salt, and peppercorns in a quart-size jar, then add the vinegar. Close jar tightly and let sit at least 24-48 hours before using. Once you commence using it, store in the refrigerator. It lasts for months.

Vegetable Sauces

Coming soon!

Sauce Ti-Malice

Ti-Malice and Bouqui are part of Haiti's folktale and as you will find in Haitian culture, everything even food is associated with satire.  There are various tales about these two in Haitian oral history.  I was happy when reading Melani Lebris' book on "La cuisine des flibustiers"  "The cuisine of the filibusters", this book have detailed historical accounts of the Pirate's cookery in the caribbean during the colonial era and their influences today. I was delighted to learn about the story on how Sauce Ti-Malice came to be about.  Sauce Ti-Malice is the evolution of the Pimentade when the buccaneers acquired wealth through the sales of garlic, onions and chives, which was adopted by the plantation slaves were great story tellers recounting stories of gluttony, famine and sufferings gave life to Ti-Malice and Bouqui our protagonists came to life.  Here is the story.

"Two men, Ti-Malice and Bouki, are good friends. Bouki is gullible, while Ti-Malice is a prankster and more astute. Ti-Malice has meat for lunch everyday and Bouki just so happens to show up at Ti-Malice's house every day around lunch time. Haitians, being good natured, offer whatever they are eating to their guests. So Bouki winds up sharing Ti-Malice's meat every day.

One day, Ti-Malice decides to trick Bouki and prepares a very hot sauce with the hottest peppers that he could lay his hands on for the meat, hoping to deter Bouki from coming back at lunchtime to eat his food. Bouki tastes the meat with the hot sauce on it and runs all over town shouting to everyone 'Come taste the sauce Ti-Malice made for me'; and that's how Sauce Ti-Malice got its name."

This sauce is served warm, in a separate dish, for spooning over your meat, fish or rice dishes. It is also used as a condiment when cooking meat or fish dishes. I like it as a salad dressing.

Yield: 2 cups, 4 to 6 servings


1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed and minced
2 shallots, finely chopped
¼ green bell pepper, sliced thin
¼ red bell pepper, sliced thin (optional)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons Piklese vinegar
Juice of ½ lime (about 1 tablespoon)


In saucepan, heat oil on medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and shallots and cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add peppers, tomato paste, salt, black pepper, pikliz vinegar, and lime juice then cook and stir for 3 minutes.

Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes on low-medium heat. Let cool.

Covered tightly and refrigerated, Sauce Ti-Malice can be kept safely for about 5 to 7 days.

Sauce Tomate/Tomato Sauce


1 cup of water
1 ½ tbsp tomato paste
1 small onion sliced
1 garlic clove
¼ cup red or green peppers
1 tsp. of oil

salt, black pepper, or hot pepper to taste


1. Sauté onions and peppers in a pan for 1 minute
2. Bring water to a boil and add remaining ingredients
3. Stir and simmer sauce on low heat

Bechamel Sauce

Servings: Makes  1 quart


1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup  of flour
2 cups milk 1
small onion studded with 2 Or 3 cloves, optional
1 small bay leaf
dash dried leaf thyme, crumbled
salt and white pepper to taste
nutmeg, to taste

In a medium heavy saucepan, melt butter over low heat. When butter starts to foam, add the flour 
all at once, mixing well with a wooden spoon. cook over low heat 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly to incorporate and cook flour. Remove pan from heat and let stand, up to 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, scald milk (heating it until just below boiling point).

Return saucepan with roux to medium-low heat. Add all of the scalded milk at once (to avoid the formation of lumps). Simmer, stirring gently with a wire whisk or wooden spoon. Add studded onion, bay leaf and thyme sprig. Cook, stirring, over low heat, 15 to 20 minutes, until smooth and thickened. Strain sauce through fine-mesh strainer. Add salt, white pepper and nutmeg to taste. 

Makes about 2 cups.  This sauce is used for Macaroni au gratin (Macaroni and cheese Haitian style) and many other recipes

Haitian bean sauce


1 cup dried  beans( red, black, white beans; green or pigeon peas)
2 cups water
cloves garlic (used fresh cloves during the cook time)  
whole cloves
salt to taste
1/2 tsp oil


Rinse beans, soak overnight. Drain and discard water.
Pace beans in large saucepan with the water,  cloves, garlic, parsley, scallion thyme, and oil. Save salt until beans are almost done. Adding salt too soon toughens the beans. Oil keeps the water from boiling over.

Cook over low heat for an hour. My cook time was a little longer before they were tender enough.

When tender, remove three-fourths of the beans,  along with some liquid from the pan and puree in the blender.

Return the pureed beans to the saucepan containing the reserved whole beans. Simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes or until beans are of desired consistency. I added more of the liquid to this mixture and let it cook down. It really intensified the flavors, almost like a reduction.

Adjust seasoning. Serve with rice or Haitian polenta

For other Beans and Peas recipes click here

Mango Salsa

Servings: 1

1 cup diced ripe mango
2 Tbsp. minced scallions
1½ Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. chopped green or red pepper
Crushed hot peppers to taste


Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
Cover; chill for 2-hours and serve.

Rum Sauce

Yield: 2 cups / 500 mL
Preparation Time: 30 minutes

2 egg yolks
1 cup / 250 mL confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup / 60 mL aged rhum
1 cup / 250 mL heavy cream
1 teaspoon / 5 mL vanilla essence


Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar until the sugar dissolves. Pour in the rum slowly and beat until well blended. Set the mixture aside.

In a large bowl, whip the cream until it is stiff. Fold in the vanilla. Fold the egg mixture into the whipped cream.



4 eggs
3 teaspoons white vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt1 tablespoon sharp mustard  
A dash of white pepper
2 cups grape seed oil (or other oil)


  • Before starting to prepare mayonnaise all the ingredients should have room temperature.
  • Separate egg whites from yolks. Then put the yolks in a bowl.
  • Mix yolks with vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper until mixture becomes thick and will not stick to the beater (2-3 minutes). Add oil gradually, constantly mixing until smooth mixture is formed.
  • Season to taste.

Annatto Oil

1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup annatto seeds


Combine the oil and seeds in a small saucepan. Gently cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The oil will have a strong red-orange color. Strain oil and store in the refrigerator.