Little known in Southwest Florida, Cuban oregano has more aliases than a South Florida con artist.
Masquerading as something it is not, this aromatic herb, Plectranthus amboinicus, isn’t true oregano but a relative of the colorful coleus.
It’s also known as Mexican oregano, soup mint, Spanish thyme, Indian borage, and Tagalog, suganda. It has a different name in each country in which it is found.
Cooks praise it for flavoring black beans and rice, salsas, and tomato sauces.
Ideally suited for Southwest Florida, it doesn’t mind heat, sun, or drought.
It is quickly grown from cuttings or a single leaf, crawling across the ground, rooting itself as it goes.
You might wish to plant it in a hanging basket or contained area, as on some Caribbean and Pacific islands, it is considered an invasive exotic.
Cuban oregano plants soon will be available at ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization) Nursery in North Fort Myers, said Kay Cude, the group’s herbalist.
“As you know, if you grow it, you only need to buy it once, and you’ll have as much as you need,” Cude said.
If you like it – Cude said she doesn’t – she cautions that in hot dishes, you should add it at the end of cooking to preserve the flavor.
BLACK BEANS WITH CUBAN OREGANO
1 15 oz. can black beans
Two tablespoons olive oil
One tablespoon Cuban oregano, diced
Four cloves garlic, chopped
One bay leaf
Two tablespoons cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
- Add black beans to a medium skillet over medium heat. Heat olive oil in a small skillet.
- Add oregano and garlic, saute until garlic is lightly golden, then add to the black beans.
- Add bay leaf, salt, and pepper.
- Cover and simmer for 30 min.
- Serve black beans and decorate with cilantro and green onion.
RECIPE COURTESY OF LINGLE’S HERBS, LONG BEACH, CALIF.
1 pound skinned mahi mahi
1 14 ounces can make salmon (drained)
1 14 ounces can tomato sauce
One tablespoon olive oil
One chopped medium onion
Three garlic cloves crushed
One small green bell pepper chopped
One large ripe tomato chopped
Two tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
One teaspoon fresh chopped basil
Two teaspoons fresh chopped Cuban oregano
One teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
One tablespoon paprika
Hot sauce to taste
- Saute the onion, garlic, and pepper in the oil until the onion is soft.
- Add the tomato and a little broth. Let it stew for about 10 minutes on low heat.
- Add the tomato sauce and all the spices (just one teaspoon of oregano).
- Add the broth little by little, so the sauce doesn’t get too thick. Let it cook for 30 minutes.
- Cut the mahi mahi in squares and add to the sauce.
- Add the salmon. Move the mix slowly, so the salmon doesn’t break too much.
- Let it cook for another 10 minutes.
- Add the other teaspoon of oregano (finely chopped) on top and let it stand until you serve.
- Serve over pasta. Add some drops of hot sauce to taste.