Spicy Arawak marinade for meats

Jalapeño Peppers

Jalapeño Peppers

By Cat, April 2015 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

The spicy heat in this recipe is from chile peppers: habañero or Scotch bonnet chiles, which are among the hottest on the planet, but you can make a more mild version with jalapeños. I’ve not yet tried this recipe.

Allspice is a major spice in this recipe; despite common belief, it is not a spice blend, but rather a dried berry from a broadleaf evergreen tree native to the Caribbean. Popular in Caribbean, Scandinavian, Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern cuisines, allspice works well in both sweet and savory recipes (1), and blends well with the additional spices in this recipe (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and black pepper).

See also: 1.Dressings, Dips & Marinades Menu; 2. Individual Herbs & Spices, A – F; 3. Individual Herbs & Spices, G – Z; 4. Unprocessed & minimally-refined sugars (about)


Spicy Arawak marinade for meats

This recipe is adapted from Arawak Marinade by Daniel Neman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (2) ( he adapted his version from All Recipes.com, but did not provide the url). It is believed that an early version of this recipe came from the Arawaks, an indigenous people of the Caribbean islands and South America. Allspice, an important spice in this marinade is also native the Caribbean, as is sugar cane and molasses, all of which are important ingredients in this marinade. (1)

Mr. Neman recommends trying this recipe with London Broil; let it marinate overnight in the fridge before cooking the meat. But it works well with most meats including poultry and fish.

Recipe yield, about 2 1/2 cups.

Ingredients & Equipment

  • Spice mix
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp unrefined sea salt
  • Marinade
  • 6 green onions (scallions), chopped
  • 3 Tbsp minced shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 scotch bonnet or other chile peppers *
  • 1 Tbsp Rapadura or brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ½ cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • ½ cup Organic tamari sauce
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Equipment
  • small bowl
  • medium bowl with cover, or quart mason jar with lid
  • sharp knife
  • wood cutting board
  • sanitary gloves (optional, to minimize exposure to the heat of the peppers)

* Note: Habañero chiles are a good substitute for Scotch bonnet peppers; both are among the hottest peppers in the world, so be very careful. Or use more mild peppers such as jalapeños.


  1. Combine spice mixture in a small bowl.
  2. Chop scallions; mince shallots and garlic. Place in medium bowl.
  3. Add Rapadura/brown sugar, orange juice, vinegar, wine, soy sauce, oil and molasses to bowl medium bowl; add spice mix and stir to combine.
  4. Chiles: If you want less heat, remove seeds before chopping and adding to the marinade. Then wash and rinse your hands thoroughly; repeat with knife and the cutting board.
  5. Mix well, cover, and allow to sit for 1 hour. Stir again before using marinade. Discard marinade after use.

Marinating times:

  • Fish at least 30 minutes;
  • Chicken or pork at least 1 to 2 hours,
  • Beef (such as for London broil) at least 4 to 6 hours or overnight.


  1. Allspice: All purpose not all spices by Daniel Neman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (stltoday.com/lifestyles/food-and-cooking/allspice-all-purpose-but-not-all-spices/article_15ca48a9-556b-57c1-8790-6012a0c94f63.html)
  2. Arawak Marinade recipe by Daniel Neman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (stltoday.com/lifestyles/food-and-cooking/recipes/arawak-marinade/article_c6743bc0-ab5b-52c1-8772-fe62525fbeb1.html)

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