Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meats are dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. Jerk seasoning is traditionally applied to pork and chicken. Modern recipes also apply jerk spice mixes to fish, shrimp, shellfish, beef, sausage, and tofu. Jerk seasoning principally relies upon two items: allspice (called “pimento” in Jamaica) and Scotch bonnet peppers (among the hottest peppers on the Scoville scale). Other ingredients include cloves, cinnamon, scallions, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper.
Jerk chicken, pork, or fish originally was smoked over aromatic wood charcoal. Most Jerk in Jamaica is no longer cooked in the traditional method and is grilled over hardwood charcoal in a steel drum jerk pan. The wood (“pimento wood”) berries, and leaves of the allspice plant among the coals contribute to jerk’s distinctive flavour.
Curry goat is a dish originating in Indo-Jamaican cuisine that has become so popular it is now regarded as being typical of Jamaica. This dish has spread throughout the English-speaking Caribbean and also the Caribbean Diaspora in North America and Great Britain.
Curry goat is a popular party dish in Jamaica and at a ‘big dance’ a local expert or ‘specialist’ is often brought in to cook it. It is considerably milder than the equivalent dishes from the Indian subcontinent and is flavoured with a spice mix that is typical of Indo-Jamaican cooking and Scotch Bonnet Peppers; it is almost always served with rice and, in restaurants in North America and Great Britain, other typically Caribbean side dishes such as fried plantain may be served as an accompaniment. There are many variations on the dish that include using mutton when goat is not available or bulking it out with potatoes.
It is said that this dish owes its origin to the indentured South Indians who were brought to the islands as replacement for the slaves that fled the plantations. They wanted to cook their beloved curry lamb but there were no lambs. The equivalent was the kid goat. Since then the recipe has changed to the meat of the head of the herd, the Big Billy Goat.
Plantain is a green to yellow boat-shaped fruit (shade of colour depends on stage of ripening) of a large shrub called Musa Paradisiacal.It is a close relative of banana, looks like banana, but bigger, longer, has thicker skin and often needs to be cooked before eaten. The Spanish refer to it as the Male Banana. Don’t know why! It is sometimes called plantain banana and contains a low GI starch, excellent for weight control, slow energy release and good for diabetics, with surpassing nutritional value. It is eaten all over Africa and Southern and Central America. Plantain can be eaten boiled, roasted, grilled, or fried. It is not very pleasing on the palate if eaten raw.
Ackee & Saltfish
Ackee and Saltfish is a traditional Jamaican dish, internationally known as Jamaica’s national dish. It spread to other countries with the Jamaican Diaspora. The Saltfish is salt cod, preserved by salting and drying. The Ackee fruit was imported to Jamaica from West Africa (probably on a slave ship) before 1778. It is also known as Blighia Sapida. The scientific name honours Captain William Bligh who took the fruit from Jamaica to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England in 1793 and introduced it to science.
In the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, “Ackee and Saltfish” is eaten widely, although canned Ackee is more often used than fresh in some foreign countries. However, people from countries where the fruit is indigenous prefer to eat fresh Ackee from the pod as opposed to Ackee from a tin. When cooked, Ackee has a soft texture, somewhat akin to scrambled egg.
Rice & Peas
Rice & peas is the mainstay of the Jamaican and Caribbean diet and is traditionally, but not exclusively, eaten with the Sunday meal. The dish is made with rice and any available legume (Pulse/bean/peas), such as red kidney beans, pigeon peas (known as gungo peas), or cowpeas, the combination of grain and a legume forming a complete protein; compare rice and beans. The peas are boiled with pimento seeds (allspice) and garlic until tender. Salt, scotch bonnet (pepper), thyme, scallion (spring onion) and coconut milk are then added along with the rice and left to simmer until cooked. This flavours the dish well and reduces the need for additional protein. Rice and peas the classic Sunday lunch dish is usually served with chicken.
The most remarkable feature about this tropical fish is its ability to FLY! Of course, they don't actually fly above our heads like birds do, but they can glide through the air and over the water for distances of 30-40 metres. While achieving this 'temporary flight', the fish reaches speeds of up to 55kmph!
As Barbados has been refered to as the 'land of the flying fish' - it makes sense that this is feautured in our national dish which is usually served steamed: "Cou Cou and Flying Fish".
Another widely enjoyed dish is 'Flying Fish Cutters' which consists of bread buns, sliced with fish as the filler.