This is the boon of advancement of technology that we can use the materials and spices of other country at our home to make our dish more delicious. Globalisation helps in importing many raw materials from other country and spices can be exported in other countries too. As a result of which raw materials get bigger market and we get the profit of using several spices and ingredients.
Caribbean people just love to do experiments with their spices. They are very well known for using hot and flavourful ingredients which make chicken more hot, crispy, full of flavour and delicious. Cooking with dry white wine also enhances the taste of food. From just hot to inflammatory, this Caribbean jerk seasoning gets its jolt from a combination of ingredients such as chillies, thyme, cinnamon, garlic, coriander and nutmeg. The meaning of jerk is cooking and seasoning which is used to marinate meat before final cooking. It adds layers of flavours, crisp and eye watering spice to food.
About Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
The island of Jamaica is renowned for its beautiful beaches, flora fauna, reggae music, exotic fruits, its kind hearted people and their wonderful food. If you have not tasted the Jamaican Jerk that means you are still unaware of the life style of Jamaican people. It is strictly prohibited not to eat the Jamaican Jerk food if you are not able to cope up extreme spices because the hotness and spice of these foods are hard to handle. Not using the chilli pepper results in the drastic change of the final product and without the heat it’s not the jerk.
The term ‘jerk’ is coined from the Spanish word charqui whose meaning is jerked or dried meat or veggies. The process of spicing, grinding and grilling meats and veggies is called jerk. The process is originated from the pre-slavery period of the Coromantee hunters residing in West Africa. Those were supposed to be Jamaican slaves who escaped from the British in 1655 when they invaded. They jerked chicken, made holes by sharp knife and that hole was filled with spicy ingredients which made the chicken more tender, crispier, hot and full of stunning flavour.
How to Make
Jerk seasoning is mainly made of sweet sultry spices, spicy herbs which give extremely hot flavour. Allspice which is also known as “pimento” plays a vital role in making of Jamaican Jerk Seasoning. Scotch bonnet chilli peppers are also the part of main ingredients. For a good jerk paste some ingredients like allspice, garlic, thyme and lots of Scotch bonnet or habaneras chillies are must-haves. This paste is filled into the cavities of chicken or pork. Sometime this marinade is poured over the flesh of beef, sausage, shrimp, tofu, lamb and fish.
The spice stuffed chicken is then grill by putting into oven or over a fireplace for cooking. These seasoning jerk are available in market but can be made at home also. It would be very economic to prepare this mixture at home.
Allspice – It is a dried fruit grown on the Pimenta dioica tree which is the main ingredient of jerk seasoning paste. When these fruits are ripen then they are plucked from the trees and put under the exposure of sun to make it dry which tarnishes the colour into dark brown. After drying these are ground into powder to retain their properties for long time.
Scotch Bonnet Pepper- This is also a key ingredient and famous as Caribbean red peppers. It works similar as chilli pepper having very light sweet flavour. Available in the Caribbean islands and take part actively in the making of variety of Caribbean dishes. It is the spiciest peppers and very closely related to habanera pepper. It gives sweet-heat taste and elevates the taste of food. Use it in powdered form. If it is not available then use habanero pepper or chipotle chillies in place of that to have a sizzling flavour. To add more spice we can use milder pepper.
Thyme – Use to provide exotic aroma and minty flavour. It is a famous perennial herb and can be used in dry as well as in fresh form also. Dry thyme is much more intense as compared to fresh thyme. So if we are using 1 cup of fresh thyme then we require ½ cup of dry thyme only. Fresh parsley and chopped coriander leaves the same impact and fragrance to the recipe as thyme.
All three ingredients above are the main ingredients of Jamaica Jerk Seasoning. But despite of these some more spices like ground black pepper, garlic powder, roughly crushed cinnamon sticks are also added which impart delicious and fiery flavour.
- ¼ cup of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of canola oil
- 1 tablespoon of allspice and dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon of Scotch bonnet pepper powder and freshly grounded black pepper respectively
- 2 tablespoons of garlic dust powder and salt as per taste
- ¼ tablespoon of finely sliced nutmeg, cloves, cumin and cinnamon
- Juice of 1lime
Mix all these ingredients except oil and lime juice into bowl and put it into grinder and pulse it into a fine paste. Store the paste in airtight container. Vinegar can also be used to make the paste smooth and be used for long period of time. Before using the paste we should mix it nicely with canola oil and lime juice. Fill the paste into the cleavage of chicken and heat it to cook.
We should leave the chicken and fish into the paste overnight so that they can absorb the extraordinary flavour of the paste. Very small amount of paste is needed even for large amount of flesh. Grilling the dish over a low heat generated barbecue improves the taste. We can use soya sauce to serve it. Best result can be achieved only by cooking in slow heat. Turn carefully when both sides become brown.
The cooking technique of jerking is result of evolution over long period of time. It was mainly derived from African ancestry which was adapted and modified over time and got influenced by various cultures. It is so famous in today’s world that it has become the prerequisite of becoming a chef.
- For best result do the cooking over a barbecue because it cooks in mild heat.
- Be careful while using Scotch bonnet pepper. We should put on plastic or latex gloves because the oil may cause serious irritation and sensation.
- Toast lightly all the spices in a dry skillet until they produce tempting smell and finally grind it into fine dust by using mortar and pestle.
- We should not drink water rather drink some sweet liquid to nullify the extremely spicy flavour.
- Store in an airtight container for preserving for the long time.
Jamaican Jerk seasoning is used to enhance the spice and taste of meat. It makes the meat crispier. Nowadays almost all restaurants use this seasoning while cooking chicken, fish and beef. Some chefs love to do experiments with this paste by adding more and more ingredients. It’s like a godsend for the people who live to eat only. Use the recipe to cook delicious meat and also do not forget to share this recipe to others.