The Spice Man Cometh: Some ‘Ting Nice’s Mark Reid Shares Seven Go-To Caribbean Ingredients

Mark Reid Illustration

Illustration by Arthur Mount

Since October, Some ‘Ting Nice executive chef Mark Reid has been bringing the flavors of the Caribbean to Somerville, serving up homey stewed oxtail, fragrant bowls of fish tea, and spicy jerk pork in a sunny, mural-splashed space. “West Indian food is a food that lingers,” Reid says. “It gives you a high which you’ll keep craving.” To bring a dose of island flavor to your own kitchen island, Reid suggests stocking up on the following West Indian staples. —Korsha Wilson

Jamaican Spices

Photograph by Michael Piazza. Styling by Molly Shuster/Team.

Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning

Many of the herbs and spices in this pastelike seasoning—such as scallions, thyme, and nutmeg—are grown in the hilly St. Ann Parish region of Jamaica. Reid suggests using it as a marinade for chicken or pork.

 Shado Beni

Sometimes called Caribbean cilantro, or culantro, this herb is grown in the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa, and has long, paddle-shaped leaves that pack intense cilantro flavor. Add a couple of chopped leaves to rice after cooking, incorporate into salsa, or use to top off soups.


While it’s tough to find guava fresh, it’s easy to track it down in jellylike paste form. Use it as a bright tart or cookie filling, or as a quirky substitution for quince paste on a cheese board.

Scotch Bonnet Peppers

The star ingredient in escovitch—a tangy seafood dish that pairs hot peppers with butter and cider or white vinegar—these flower-shaped, brutally hot peppers can be subbed in for habaneros. But beware: “You get teary-eyed even if you don’t want to,” Reid says. “They set your lips on fire.”


The flowers of the sorrel plant are used to make the maroon-red drink found at many West Indian restaurants (see below).

Pimiento Seeds

In the Caribbean, pimiento seeds (commonly known as allspice) add that “earthy, smoky” flavor to curries and spice rubs.

 Red Stripe

Reid uses this easy-drinking, lightly hoppy Jamaican lager to baste jerk chicken. “Use one or two beers,” Reid says. “Then hang out and [drink] the rest while it cooks.”


Find these ingredients at Tropical Foods, 2101 Washington St., Roxbury, 617-442-7439,


Sorrel drink, a wildly popular beverage in Jamaica, is made by steeping sorrel buds (from the hibiscus family) overnight to create a strong tea base. “There will never be the same taste, body, strength, and color in any two houses,” Reid says. He suggests using the following proportions as a guideline and experimenting until you reach a version that suits your own personal taste.

Sorrel Drink Ingredients

Illustration by the Ellaphant in the Room


  • 1 lb. sorrel buds
  • 2 oz. ginger root
  • 2½ qt. water
  • 8–12 pimiento seeds (whole allspice)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • sugar (brown or white)

1. Bring water to a rolling boil in a large pot; grate or crush ginger.

2. Add ginger, pimiento seeds, and the cinnamon stick to the water and stir.

3. Add sorrel buds, turn off the heat, cover, and allow to steep for 12 to 24 hours.

4. Strain the cooled liquid and discard solids.

5. Sweeten and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve over ice.

6. To make more adult-friendly, spike with white rum, port, or a fruity red wine before serving.

Sorrel Drink Illustration

Illustration by the Ellaphant in the Room