Homemade Trinidad Roucou Recipe

Published on July 23rd 2021 by Rachael Ottier Hart.
Last updated on April 1st 2024
This recipe, developed through the collective effort of at least six experts, underwent meticulous research and testing for over three months. Learn more about our process in the art and science behind our recipes. This post may contain affiliate links. Read our Disclosure Policy.
Close up shot of Trinidad Roucou with Kalamansi on the side

In Trinidad, Roucou is the local name for the Annatto fruit of the Achiote tree. The fruit is a heart-shaped pod with spikes on the surface and seeds inside. Historically, these seeds are used to flavor foods, and the vibrant orange, red color was used as a die with the native Amerindian Tribes. The pulp covering the seeds is ground or soaked in water to release the pigment, which would then be used to adorn the body or hair. When used in foods, it can also add color, but it adds a nutty, peppery taste to a dish as a flavoring. Countries like the Philippines, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America use these seeds in cooking as a paste, oil, or water solution. This recipe is an excellent way to celebrate our native Caribbean culture and keep the tradition of Trinidad Roucou alive.

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Time & Serves

Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
40 mins
Serves
10

Ingredients

Water Solution
  • 3 oz Roucou Seeds, also known as Annatto Seeds 

  • 8 oz Warm Water

Oil Solution
  • 3 oz Roucou Seeds also known as Annatto Seeds

  • 8 oz Vegetable Oil

Paste
  • 3 oz Roucou Seeds also known as Annatto Seeds

  • 3 tablespoons Coriander Seeds

  • 3 tablespoons Dried Oregano

  • 3 teaspoons Cumin Seeds

  • 3 teaspoons Black Peppercorns

  • 6 Whole Cloves

  • 3 teaspoons Salt

  • 1 Garlic Bulb

  • 125 ml Lime Juice

Instructions

Water Solution

Place the seeds into a bowl with the water. At this point, you can allow the seeds to soak for a minimum of an hour or overnight before moving on to the next step, which will add more depth of flavor.

Use your hands to massage the pulp from the seeds. You can use gloves to prevent your hands from staining.

Once most of the pulp has been rubbed off into the water, strain the liquid and use the back of a spoon to press the remaining pulp from the seeds.

Use as a seasoning or add to stews and soups as desired for flavor and or color.

Store the liquid in a bottle and keep it in a cool dark place.

Oil Solution

Add the oil to a saucepan and warm on medium heat for 2 minutes.

Once the oil is warm, add the roucou seeds and stir to mix. Reduce the heat to low and allow to cook until it begins to simmer.

Do not cook on high heat as this will create a very bitter taste.

After the oil has reached a low simmer, remove the pan from the heat and give the mixture one more stir before you leave it to rest and cool.

Once the oil has cooled, strain the oil and use the back of a spoon to press the remaining pulp from the seeds.

Use as a seasoning or add to stews and soups as desired for flavor and or color.

Store the oil in a bottle and keep it in a cool dark place.

Paste

Using a mill grinder, mini food processor, or mortar and pestle, grind the roucou, coriander, oregano, cumin, black peppercorns, and cloves into a powder.

Remove the powder to a mini food processor or continue using your mortar and pestle and mix in the salt, garlic, and lime juice until it becomes a paste.

Depending on the consistency you want for the paste you can add more lime juice to the mixture.

Use as a wet rub for meats.

Store in a jar and keep in a cool dark place.

Rachael Ottier Hart
Author:

Join Rachael on a global culinary journey. With a passion for travel and diverse cuisines, she crafts recipes that weave flavors, scents, and stories into each dish, igniting your wanderlust with every bite.

More posts by Rachael Ottier Hart

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Keywords
Trinidad Roucou, Annatto, Achiote, Aploppas, Achiotl, Bijol, Bija, Recado Rojo, Atsuete, Pimentão doce

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Rachael Ottier Hart
Author:

Join Rachael on a global culinary journey. With a passion for travel and diverse cuisines, she crafts recipes that weave flavors, scents, and stories into each dish, igniting your wanderlust with every bite.

More posts by Rachael Ottier Hart