Notting Hill Carnival mixes all cultures. The Caribbean and especially Jamaican influence is overwhelming, when it comes to food.
Expect to find jerk chicken at every corner.
Jerk describes a technique to cook chicken, and is now the name of the seasoning.
Jerk chicken is a national Jamaican dish. It reflects the history of the island.
Before colonisation, Arawaks indians were living on the island.
Jerk derives from their technique to smoke and dry the meat in order totake it on journeys.
When slavery started, maroons (slaves who escaped from their masters and lived, hidden on the island) began to use the same technique to survive in an hostile environment.
Over the years, the technique evolved to become the one we know today.
Traditionally, Jerk chicken is not cooked over coal but over fresh wood. The seasoning and the way of cooking it, gives its special taste. If you’re not really keen on spices, watch out, as it can be hot and spicy
Thankfully, the rice, red beans and plantains, served with it ease the spice.
Today it is common to find jerk shrimp, fish, chicken, pork & beef. They are just delicious and give you a taste of the local flavor.
If you love it, you might as well cook it at home. You can find several brands proposing Jerk seasoning, the most famous one being “walkerswood“.
As for the recipes, hundreds of websites and restaurants are proposing different way of doing. However, we recommend you use:
- “Allspice berries: The fruit of the pimento tree used for grilling jerk chicken, allspice berries are dried and resemble peppercorns. They have a sweet, spicy, floral flavor, and got their name when English settlers of the Caribbean tasted them and thought they combined the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. The berries are ground to release their essential oils.
- Thyme: Fresh is preferable, but dried is also used.
- Scotch bonnet pepper: Native to the Caribbean, Scotch bonnet peppers are extremely spicy, about 40 times hotter than jalapeños. The peppers are chopped or blended for use in the marinade, and seeds can be left in or removed for less heat.
- Scallions or green onions: Both white and green parts, chopped.
- Fresh ginger: Peeled and grated. The ginger plant flourishes in the Caribbean, and is used in many regional specialties such as ginger beer and sorrel, a drink that’s brewed from hibiscus flowers.”
Now it is your turn to try it ! Bon appetit!