A cherished pastime of my dad’s is fishing. I recall many times he came back boasting about his catch, while some trips brought home nothing but disappointment. Nonetheless, one of my fondest memories is standing around our home-made jerk pan with packets of foil paper housing the most delicious (and spiciest) jerk conch, while tearing off chunks of hard dough bread to sop up the juices.
Conch meat is revered worldwide for its unique taste and aphrodisiac properties. The meat is extracted from its shell, pounded to tenderize, and marinated in jerk seasoning. The little bits of succulence usually get wrapped in foil and thrown on the grill, and is ready for eating in about 30 minutes. What you get is sweet, tender chunks of conch swimming in its own spicy juices from the jerk marinade. Deliciousness!
Tips before cooking conch:
- Scrape conch lightly with a sharp knife to clean.
- Gut it and use a heavy object, e.g. a hammer to pound it – that will tenderize the conch. You can also pressure it to soften it.
- 3 lbs. of conch, cleaned, pounded to tenderize
- 4-5 cups of water
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 2 stalks escallion
- 1 large onion
- 1 small scotch bonnet pepper
- 2 tbsp. jerk seasoning blend (dad makes his own)
- Butter (about a stick)
- 1 pack vegetable soup mix noodles
- Salt to taste
- Clean conch and cut into small 1” pieces. Using a pressure cooker, cook the conch in salted water for 20 minutes and strain.
- Dice onion, escallion, thyme, garlic and pepper and mix with jerk seasoning and the pack of soup mix noodles. (If jerk seasoning is already salty, separate noodles from the soup mix before combining.)
- Combine conch pieces and seasonings and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Put small portions into foil, and seal properly, and place on a grill and cook for 15-20 minutes.
Serve with festival or hard dough bread.
Check out these other non-traditional jerk recipes:
1. Jerk Lobster (adapted from Jamaicans.com)
- 4 lobster tails
- 2 tsp. Jerk Seasoning
- ½ cup Butter
- 2 whole scallions
- 2 tsps. lemon/lime juice
- ½ tsp. of Jamaica Pickapeppa sauce or 3 drops of Jamaican hot pepper sauce (optional)
- Thinly slice the scallions.
- Melt the butter in a small skillet.
- Lightly sauté the scallions until golden.
- Add the 3 teaspoons of lemon juice.
- Add ½ teaspoon of Jamaica Pickapeppa sauce or 3 drops of Jamaican hot pepper sauce optional depending on your taste).
- Let it simmer for about 1 min. then set aside.
- Remove the membrane from the lobster tails.
- Use a sharp knife to split the lobster tail in half (length).
- Use a brush to put the butter sauce on each tail.
- Using the same brush spread the Jerk sauce over the tails especially on the exposed meat. Put your oven setting to broil.
- Put the lobster tails in oven on the meat side for 4 minutes, turn and then cook the shell side for 2 minutes.
- If you want a more smoked taste, you should cook the lobster tails for 2 minutes on each side in the oven, then place on a barbeque grill for 3 minutes. You may need to add more Jerk sauce if you put it on the barbeque grill.
Serve with Jamaican Festival and/or Bammy. You can also serve with Jamaican hardo bread.
Read more about jerk lobster and where it can be found here.
2. Jerk Lamb (adapted from: goodwillfarms.com)
- /3 cup allspice
- 3 Scotch bonnet peppers
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 small onion
- 6 scallions chopped
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- A touch of soy sauce can be added to moisten the mixture.
- Blend ingredients until smooth.
- Rub the lamb with the blended seasoning.
- Leave to marinate for a couple of hours or overnight.
- Grill over a low fire until done
Read more about jerk lamb and where it can be found here
3. Jerk Rabbit (Found at: http://prairibbeancookbook.blogspot.com/2010/09/jerk-rabbit-with-wild-rice-n-peas.html)
- 3-4 lb rabbit, cut up into pieces
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
- 4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed from stems
- 6-10 chopped green onions
- 1.5 c soy sauce
- 1 c white vinegar
- 0.5 c vegetable oil
- 4 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp each cloves, nutmeg, and allspice
- Place rabbit parts in a bowl.
- Combine remaining ingredients in a blender for about 15 seconds.
- Pour mixture over rabbit and coat evenly.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
- Preheat oven to broil and place rack at the top.
- Broil about 20 minutes, turning meat 2-3 times until browned and crispy on all sides.
Read more about jerk rabbit and where it can be found here.
4. Jerk Pig’s Tail with Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Glaze (By Executive Chef George Matthews – found at www.popupgourmetjamaica.com)
- PREP TIME: 1 Hour
- DIFFICULTY: Easy
- YIELD: 2 Servings
- 16 oz. pig’s tail
- 1/2 jerk marinade (your favourite brand)
- 1/2 cup strong Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
- 1/4 cup honey
- Prepare pig’s tail. Wash and cut at joints
- Boil for 45 minutes and drain
- Season with jerk marinade.
- Grill the pig’s tail for 2 minutes on each side, best done on an outdoor grill, otherwise preheat your grill pan.
- Boil Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee and honey until reduced by half and syrupy
- Pour sauce over pig’s tail. Serve
Read more about jerk pigstail and where it can be found here.
5. Jerked Goat Ribs
Recipe provided by aspiring Jamaican chef Brittany Blackwood.
Tip: The younger the billy, the sweeter the meat.
- 2lbs goat ribs
- 2oz Salt
- 3oz black pepper
- 1 head of garlic
- 2oz sugar
- 2oz vegetable oil
- 2-4oz fresh mint leaves
- Depending on the size of the rib, cut into smaller pieces. Cover with 2-3cups of water and cook pressure cooker for 20-30 minutes or until tender.
- After you’ve removed it from the pressure cooker, season with salt and pepper and transfer immediately to a grill/jerkpan/griddle/oven dish. (see below for grill/jerk pan method).
- Add mint leaves to the remaining liquid in the pot and allow to steep.
- Baste the garlic with oil and add to roasting pan/oven dish. Add goat ribs to pan, cover fully with foil and allow to roast for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes remove garlic from oven and remove cloves from trash. Continue cooking goat uncovered in the oven.
- Blend garlic w/ goat mint stock until smooth. Strain.
- Reduce the liquid for 5-10 minutes.
- While the sauce is being made, the goat should be caramelizing in the oven. If not add a little a bit of sugar to the top.
- Leave goat rib in the oven for a next 30 minutes. Begin to baste after 30 minutes with reduced mint liquid and continue to do so for a next 15.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
Grill/jerk pan cooking:
- After removing goat rib from oven (step 4 aboe), place on hot grill surface, turning the goat rib every 20 minutes.
- After one hour on the grill, move to a medium low heat side of the grill and periodically baste the goat rib with mint liquid until done. (2hrs)
- Goat rib should be soft and caramelized.
Other notable jerk dishes – usually found at specialized eateries or at one of the many Jerk Festivals held throughout the year – include: jerked tofu; reindeer (yes); saltfish; and crab. Oh yea, and JERKED ICE CREAM.
Read more about these and other non-traditional ways to enjoy Jamaican jerk in this recently published article by F1rst Media and download their all-new and exciting mobile app to search, discover, connect, and share local places in the Caribbean.