Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Cuban Oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus)
Cuban Oregano, also known as Indian Borage and a host of other herbal sounding names, is a handy herb to have in the tropical garden. In the past, I grew a more upright, green variety but now the lower growing, variegated variety, seems to be the common type grown locally. I grow mine in a container and it hangs over the sides nicely. I also see people growing it on rocky slopes as a pretty, as well as useful, ground cover. When it is grown in sunny, dry conditions, the leaves are smaller and lighter in color so you might want your plant shaded from the intense afternoon sunlight. Baby plants grow easily from stem cuttings.
The Cuban Oregano has large, fleshy leaves and is different from the Mediterranean oreganos which makes some people hesitant to use it at first but you will be a fan after you get used to it. It gives you that same oregano flavor. Think of it more as a tangy vegetable leaf as you chop up several leaves to add to your chili, stew or stuffing. My favorite way to use it is to chop lots of leaves to add to a Teriyaki marinade which is the common type of BBQ sauce used in Hawaii. Combine Cuban Oregano, garlic, lemon juice, soy sauce, oil and brown sugar. Soak your chicken in it overnight before the BBQ. A few sprigs of the plant also make a nice decoration when serving meat. Tuck a few leaves around your Thanksgiving turkey or on the meat platters.
PS August, 2015
In the past year I have got back into another variety of Cuban Oregano and thought I should post a picture of it so that you know that there is another choice in this wonderful herb. The older picture above shows a low growing, variegated form of Cuban Oregano while this one is plain green in color and grows more upright. I think the leaves are a little larger and more plentiful too. Both plants have the same Oregano flavor and look nice as part of the landscape as well as for kitchen use. The plant may need a little trimming or pinching of tips to keep its growth more compact. Do not be afraid to really use this herb even though it has big fleshy leaves.