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St. Lucian Food: 13 Must Try Dishes of St. Lucia

St. Lucian Food: 13 Must Try Dishes of St. Lucia

St Lucia is a small island in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean. The Caribbean is located in the Atlantic Ocean and is made up of over 700 islands, but only 13 are sovereign nations. An additional 21 are dependent countries. St. Lucia is nearest to the island of Martinique, which is visible on a clear day.

Its main industry is tourism, but it has a long history as an exporter of bananas to countries like the UK. There are two seasons, wet and dry. The temperature is in the 80’s most days of the year. The terrain is very mountainous with the center of the island being lush rainforest and the country boasts having the world’s only drive-in volcano.

There are two languages spoken in St. Lucia; English is the primary language but the traditional language is St Lucian Creole or Kweyol.

Most Popular St. Lucian Dishes

Traditional St Lucian cuisine has British, French, African and Indian influences and it consists of seafood, meat, seasonings and ground provisions. Ground provisions include vegetables that grow underground, such as yams and otherwise known as root vegetables.

The island has many fishing villages located near the island’s shores. Abundant seafood include fish like snapper, yellow tuna, lobsters, conch and octopus. St Lucia has had a growing barbeque culture in the past couple of decades though cooking over open fire is the traditional cooking method.

Green Figs and Saltfish

Greenfig and saltfish with salad

Green figs and saltfish consists of bananas and fish. Green figs are green unripe bananas. They are boiled in salted water. Saltfish is cod fish that has been dried and salted so it does not require refrigeration. The salted fish is rinsed several times to remove most of the salt, boiled then stewed with onions and seasonings.

Green figs and saltfish holds a special place in the heart of St. Lucians. It’s a normal meal to make at home but it can also be found at restaurants. It’s eaten as is, can be served with a variety of other traditional foods like ground provisions or served with cucumber salad. Cucumber salad consists of grated or sliced cucumbers sprinkled with salt and can sometimes include oil and garlic for more flavor. It’s a very common side in St. Lucia.

Chicken Backs

Stewed Chicken Backs
Photo Credit: Everything St Lucian

This is a dish consisting of stewed chicken. Backs is the left-over chicken after the breasts, legs and wings have been removed, leaving behind the back bone of the chicken and small scraps of meat still attached. Stewed backs can be served with any starch but green figs are the most popular. This used to be a dish enjoyed by the poorest who couldn’t afford the pricier cuts of meat.

Green Fig Salad

Green Fig salad is a dish of green bananas, salt fish, mayonnaise and flavorings. The green bananas are boiled and cooled. They are then cut into small dice and mixed with cooked saltfish, mayonnaise, onions, garlic, green onions, seasoning peppers, salt and black pepper.

The salad is chilled before serving. In some parts of St. Lucia green fig salad includes carrots and green beans or peas though it’s debatable if those should be included. This is more common amongst the locals who live in Castries, the islands capital.

Hot Bakes and Cocoa Tea

Hot bakes are a fried flatbread and cocoa tea is a drink made from pure cocoa. There are many different ways to make bakes, but the most basic dough is made with wheat flour, water, salt and baking powder. Optional ingredients are butter, sugar and yeast.

A large ball of dough is cut into pieces, rolled into smaller balls, flattened into a disc shape then fried until golden. The bake puffs up slightly making it easy to slice and fill. It can be filled with whatever is desired but stewed saltfish is the most common filling.

Cocoa is the tropical plant from which chocolate is made. The cocoa nibs are ground into a paste which is then molded into small logs and dried, this is known as cocoa sticks.

When ready to use, the firm cocoa stick is grated into boiling water and cooked along with spices like cinnamon, bay leaves and nutmeg. Milk and sugar is added making a rich sweet chocolate drink with a slight kick depending on how much spice was used. Hot bakes and coco tea almost always go together. It’s a popular rainy day meal.


Long dumplings

Dumplings are cooked pieces of dough and St Lucian dumplings are always cooked in soup or broth. The dumplings are made in different shapes and sizes ranging from quarter sized balls to very large flat dumplings usually prepared for community gatherings, the latter of which contains cornmeal because it is more filling.


Pigtain Bouyon
Photo Credit: Everything St. Lucian

Bouyon is a thick chunky soup made using salted meat, beans, vegetables and dumplings. The most popular kind is salted pig tails with red beans and dumplings. Other meats used are chicken and lamb and some recipes include coconut milk.

Bouyon comes from the French word bouillon which means broth, usually made from stewing meat or fish and vegetables.

Smoked Herrings with Breadfruit

Breadfruit and Herrings breakfast
Photo Credit: Everything St Lucia

This is a dish consisting of stewed fish and boiled or roasted breadfruit. Herring is another fish which does not require refrigeration because it is smoked and dried over an open flame. The smoked herring is prepared by boiling and deboning before being stewed with onions.

Breadfruit is large starchy fruit which grows on an equally large tree. When ripe, it can be eaten raw as the starches convert to sugar and it becomes sweet and almost pillowy soft. Raw breadfruit is firm and must be cooked to be eaten. It’s usually peeled and cut into smaller pieces for boiling, roasted whole or sliced and fried. The stewed herrings are served on top of the cooked breadfruit and sometimes drizzled with a little oil as the dish tends to be a bit dry. It is often served with cucumber salad.


Boiled Paime

Paime is a treat best described as a boiled cake. It somewhat resembles a tamale but couldn’t be more different. The basic ingredients are cornmeal, sugar, shredded coconut, pumpkin or sweet potato, cinnamon and nutmeg. The pumpkin is boiled until tender then mashed and mixed with the other ingredients. The mixture is spooned into banana leaves and tied shut. The wrapped parcels are cooked in hot water until firm.

Traditional foods are celebrated every October on Jounen Kweyol or Creole Day. Its popularity has spread so much that October is Creole heritage month when the locals spend weekends travelling around the island to different communities and festivals, enjoying traditional food and drink. Paime can be found widely during this month, sold by street vendors.


Lambi is a conch meat. It can be prepared in a variety of ways. The conch is seasoned with spices and fried or grilled. Another method is cooking the lambi into a stew.

This is a popular food at seafood fiestas also known as a fish fry. This is when the fishing villages host night parties where all kinds of seafood are prepared, freshly caught by the village fishermen.


Fried fish cakes
Photo Credit: Everything St. Lucia

Accra is a saltfish fritter also known as fish cake. It’s made using finely shredded saltfish, water, seasonings and flour. The batter is scooped into hot oil and fried. It is usually eaten as a snack. Traditionally accra was prepared during Easter when abstinence from eating meat is practiced.

Cassava Bread

Cassava Bread cooking

This unleavened bread is made with cassava root which is better known as yucca. The recipe is simple – cassava flour, water and salt. The mixture is shaped into discs and cooked on a hot cast iron. Though the recipe is simple this isn’t commonly found in households because it isn’t easy to make.  

Cassava bread can be found at the early morning markets or sold by vendors travelling through communities selling their goods from door to door. Newer cassava bread flavors include, saltfish, chocolate, cinnamon, apple and cherry.

Fish Broth

St Lucian fish broth consists of fish, green bananas, ground provisions, other vegetables like carrot and numerous seasonings. Recipes vary and the broths usually include what is on hand. The broth is cooked until the fish and vegetables are tender. Unlike Trinidadian fish broth, this broth doesn’t usually contain hot peppers.


Curry Dhal

Dhal is a stuffed, fried bread. The dough is made with flour, water, salt and baking powder. It is rolled out into a circle then the filling is placed on one side. The empty side is folded over into a half moon shape and pinched shut. It is then fried. The most common fillings include curried split peas and stewed saltfish.

Photo Credit: Everything St. Lucian

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