What exactly is Jamaican Jerk?
The Best Tastes of the Caribbean: Try the Jamaican Jerk Food
Jerk basically refers to a type of meat, whether it is chicken, pork, beef, fish, goat, fruit or vegetables, and in Negril, Jamaica, a Jamaican jerk is referring to how the food is cooked. This delicious style of cooking refers to using a paste or marinade that will at least include pimento. Many times, pimento is referred to as allspice. The cooking also makes use of scotch bonnet peppers, which are also known as habaneros. After that, you marinate the meat and smoke it slowly over the pimento wood.
The Spanish Word for Pepper
Pimentia o pimento was the early Spanish word for pepper, and when the early European explorers first came, they mistakenly thought that it was black pepper. As a result, they called it pimento. Where did Jamaica first use the word jerk? According to experts like John Mariani and Alan Davidson, jerk is actually a Spanish word that came from the Peruvian word of Charqui. It means dried strips of meat, and this is what we might know as jerky elsewhere.
When Did This New Form of Cooking Begin?
The vast majority of historians agree that the Arawak Indians settled in Jamaica more than 2500 years ago. They used a technique for smoking and drying meat in the sun, and they would sometimes cook it over a slow fire. These were practices that were common in Peru, and they could take the dried beef on longer journeys. That is what makes up modern jerk cooking today. In fact, you have only to go on vacation to find that all across Jamaica, there are jerk huts. You can identify the these huts based on the lovely aroma coming from them. A lot of the time, these are shacks and the dining will take place outside. If you vacation in Negril, you will find this is very common. If you do decide to have it in Jamaica, check out the jerk food in Negril.
Experiencing It Firsthand
Whether you choose to experience an authentic Jamaican Jerk on vacation in Negril or at home, here are the ingredients to help you with making your own jerk food to enjoy.
- Juice from 2 Limes
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. ketchup
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 cinnamon sticks, broken
- 1 tbsp. nutmeg, ground
- 1 tbsp. black peppercorns
- 8 allspice berries, smashed
- 2 Scotch bonnet peppers
- 4-6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1-inch-thick piece fresh ginger, chopped
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped
- 2 tbsp. fresh thyme
- ¼ cup peanut or canola oil
To begin, you will have to puree the ingredients in a blender or food processor until it has become smooth. Afterwards, you will take the chicken, fish, pork, shrimp or tofu and rub sauce into it and marinate the food overnight. That’s all there is to it! The great thing about the Jamaican jerk sauce is how it will keep for weeks in your refrigerator.
Our Executive Chef Dwight Morris, visits Murdock’s Farm to chose the best quality ingredients to create some of the most amazing and tasteful plates in Jamaica.