Recipe: Jerk Conch + Other Non-Traditional Jamaican Jerk Dishes

conch shell beachA 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!

conch meat
Recipe: Jamaican Jerk Conch (My dad’s recipe)

Tips before cooking conch:

  1. Scrape conch lightly with a sharp knife to clean.
  2. 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

Method

  1. Clean conch and cut into small 1” pieces. Using a pressure cooker, cook the conch in salted water for 20 minutes and strain.
  2. 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.)
  3. Combine conch pieces and seasonings and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. 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)

Ingredients

  • 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)

Method

  1. Thinly slice the scallions.
  2. Melt the butter in a small skillet.
  3. Lightly sauté the scallions until golden.
  4. Add the 3 teaspoons of lemon juice.
  5. Add ½ teaspoon of Jamaica Pickapeppa sauce or 3 drops of Jamaican hot pepper sauce optional depending on your taste).
  6. Let it simmer for about 1 min. then set aside.
  7. Remove the membrane from the lobster tails.
  8. Use a sharp knife to split the lobster tail in half (length).
  9. Use a brush to put the butter sauce on each tail.
  10. Using the same brush spread the Jerk sauce over the tails especially on the exposed meat. Put your oven setting to broil.
  11. Put the lobster tails in oven on the meat side for 4 minutes, turn and then cook the shell side for 2 minutes.
  12. 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.

Servings: 4

Read more about jerk lobster and where it can be found here.

2. Jerk Lamb (adapted from: goodwillfarms.com)

Ingredients:

  • /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.

Instructions:

  1. Blend ingredients until smooth.
  2. Rub the lamb with the blended seasoning.
  3. Leave to marinate for a couple of hours or overnight.
  4. 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)

Serves 4-6.

  • 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

Method

  1. Place rabbit parts in a bowl.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a blender for about 15 seconds.
  3. Pour mixture over rabbit and coat evenly.
  4. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to broil and place rack at the top.
  6. 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.

pan chicken jerk

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

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. pig’s tail
  • 1/2 jerk marinade (your favourite brand)
  • 1/2 cup strong Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
  • 1/4 cup honey

Directions

  1. Prepare pig’s tail. Wash and cut at joints
  2. Boil for 45 minutes and drain
  3. Season with jerk marinade.
  4. Grill the pig’s tail for 2 minutes on each side, best done on an outdoor grill, otherwise preheat your grill pan.
  5. Boil Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee and honey until reduced by half and syrupy
  6. 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

Method

Oven cooking:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. Add mint leaves to the remaining liquid in the pot and allow to steep.
  4. 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.
  5. After 15 minutes remove garlic from oven and remove cloves from trash. Continue cooking goat uncovered in the oven.
  6. Blend garlic w/ goat mint stock until smooth. Strain.
  7. Reduce the liquid for 5-10 minutes.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
  11. Enjoy

Grill/jerk pan cooking:

  1. After removing goat rib from oven (step 4 aboe), place on hot grill surface, turning the goat rib every 20 minutes.
  2. 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)
  3. Goat rib should be soft and caramelized.

Other possibilities:

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.

One love,
SC

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Sagicor SIGMA Corporate Run + Nutrition Advice and Recipe Ideas

Sagicor SIGMA Corporate Run

5K races has been a big hit in Jamaica over the past few years. Every year new charity races are formed, with many opportunities for Jamaicans to give back to a particular cause. But probably more importantly are the health and fitness trends that have emerged with this new obsession. Persons are much more concerned about their wellness, evidenced by increased sightings of joggers, yoga practitioners, and a move towards cleaner, lighter cuisines.

Sagicor SIGMA Corporate Run – The Caribbean’s largest

Sagicor Sigma LogoOne race in particular has continued to attract thousands of excited participants and raise millions over the past 15 years. Since the first staging of the event in February 1999, Sagicor’s SIGMA Corporate Run has raised a total of JMD 124.5M (approx. USD 120K) towards enhancing healthcare services for Jamaicans islandwide. The Run is a 5.5 Kilometer (3.4 mile) event that is open to runners and walkers of all fitness levels and abilities. It is different from all other road races as the focus is on company teams. With over 22,200 registered participants this year, SIGMA continues to be the Caribbean largest 5K race.  This year race will kick off promptly at 7:30 a.m. on February 16 along Kingston’s hip-strip Knutsford Boulevard, and is under the patronage of Lady Patricia Allen, World and Olympic Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and season five winner of The Voice, Tessanne Chin.

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Check out Sagicor’s website for more race details. [Race photos courtesy of Sagicor]

Let’s Talk Nutrition

When it comes to runners’ nutrition, it can get pretty technical, especially for longer runs such as marathons and half marathons, but for shorter runs such as 5K and 10K races, it’s pretty simple. Good nutrition should be an integral part to any runner’s diet, but different foods are healthiest and most important at different times of the day. The key thing here is knowing what to eat, and when to eat it. Here are a few tips.

The night before:

You want dinner the night before to be somewhat carb-heavy (so as to carb-load your muscles) with a fair amount of protein to keep you from feeling ravenous in the morning. Ensure to make it regular white pasta or rice rather than brown. Even though whole wheat products should star in your usual fare, studies have shown that too much fiber causes intestinal distress while running. Many runners have complained about the need to go during a run. There surely aren’t any pit stops along the way for Sigma. Oh yea, please sleep. The 7-8 hour kind.

Reggae bow-tie pasta salad with tuna and sardine

Reggae bow-tie pasta salad with tuna and sardine

Check out this delicious bow tie pasta dish with protein, calcium and omega 3 rich sardines and tuna. Also, here’s a foolproof way to cook the perfect pasta every time.

The morning of:

For such a short distance, the body doesn’t really need much added energy. In fact, just a cup or two of black coffee will give you an extra boost needed to shave a few seconds (minutes) off your PR. However, because coffee’s energizing effect comes from it being a stimulant, you may need to supplement this with true energy calories. The best bet is a carb-rich fruit such as a banana or an apple, or a simple peanut butter sandwich (white bread, as whole wheat takes longer to digest) or a bagel. Skimp on the cream cheese though; excess fat has the unwanted effects of retarding digestion and can lead to intestinal distress during a run.

apple-mango-banana smoothie

apple-mango-banana smoothie

Smoothies are also a good choice as they deliver a rush of vitamins and nutrients without weighing you down. Blend a frozen banana with low fat milk and some of your favourite nuts. Whatever you do, do not stuff yourself in fear of becoming hungry during the race. Sad to say, I learnt this the hard way and almost threw up half way through one of my races. I’ll give you time to stop laughing and compose yourself. Good. Hydration is also key: you want to down at least 8 ounces (one glass) of water an hour before the start of the race.

This delicious Apple-Mango-Banana smoothie loaded with good carbohydrates and natural sugars will definitely fuel your run. Or this delectable bruschetta with gorgonzola cheese and coffee-flavoured honey.

Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese and HoneyKist Blue Mountain Flavoured Coffee

Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese and HoneyKist Blue Mountain Flavoured Coffee

During the race:

The only thing you should worry about during a 5K is finishing the race, and possibly mild hydration. Most runners can complete a 5K without the need to rehydrate. I surely can’t because I sweat like a farmer’s horse. There’s a proper way to hydrate. If you’re feeling thirsty during a run then you’re already dehydrated. Avoid this by making use of the water stops. There should be about 2 stops for a 5K race. You really don’t need any more than that. Sip, don’t gulp. Plain water should do the trick, but you may benefit from the added kick of electrolytes and glucose found in sport drinks. Also, room temperature is best. If you need to eat during a 5K then you should probably consider another activity. I suggest a diet.

After the race:

So, you’re on top of the world because you (hopefully) clocked your best PR. In the meantime while you wait for your buddies to cross the finish line, you want to head straight to the free food, mostly so that you can be first in line. JK. But seriously, your body is now craving all the energy, nutrients and water you’ve expended. Your best bet here are three key things: liquid, preferably a sports drink to rehydrate and to replenish lost electrolytes; carbs to restore glucose levels; and protein to rebuild muscles.

Low Fat Pak Choy Ricotta Frittata

Low Fat Pak Choy Ricotta Frittata

A good all in one is a glass of chocolate milk. Or make this quick but nutrient rich recovery shake that is sure to replenish your energy levels and kick-start your recovery process. Or, try this tasty and protein-packed low-fat frittata with ricotta cheese that will fill you up with muscle-replenishing protein.

Post-Workout Recovery Shake

Post-Workout Recovery Shake

Provided that you’ve been eating right (for the most part), you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Remember, it’s 3.1 miles, not an eternal 26.2 grueling, knee-shattering, shin-splitting, asphalt-pounding mile marathon.

All the best,

SC

FREE Smoothies + Grand Opening of Toss & Roll Salad Bar New Location

A few months ago I published a post on my experience at Toss and Roll, one of Kingston’s hottest and most recently opened salad bars. Since then I’ve received a number of great reviews from friends and colleagues who have eaten there, but the main concern was the location; it didn’t offer much seating capacity, and the limited al fresco set-up meant it only allowed for casual lunch meet ups. But that’s all about to change.

As was expected, things kicked off and the demand for more space, longer opening hours, and a more central location became pertinent. Just under nine months in, Toss and Roll will be relocating to 75 Hope Road (beside the recently opened Opa! Greek Restaurant) and will extend their hours to 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. The redesigned menu will feature a variety of new dishes including a breakfast fare, assorted teas and smoothies, along with long-standing crowd favourites. 

Toss and Roll New Location2 Toss and Roll New Location3

Of course, fitness junkies and owners Keisha and Jermaine Bailey have managed to keep the menu quite clean and lean with fresh fruits and veggies, whole wheat offerings, and lean meats.

Come and check out their grand opening tomorrow Saturday, January 25 and enjoy discounts and free smoothies.

Toss and Roll Grand Opening

Eat right, live better.

SC

The Secret to True Jamaican Jerk (Nearshore Americas article)

By virtue of my job, I was recently approached to write an article on Scotchies Jerk Centre for Nearshore Americas, a media company that covers outsourcing related news in the Americas. (Their Off Hours feature highlight the culture and lifestyles of each location.)

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This was a great opportunity as it allowed me to exercise my food blogging skills while showcasing one of Jamaica’s most renowned cuisines. In my line of work I am constantly looking for new and intriguing ways to promote Jamaica as an ideal location to do business, and food is always a great way to advertise our culture and lure prospective investors to the island. 

Jamaica. The name instantly evokes an image of pristine waters embraced by immaculate sandy shores, with a year-round welcoming sun and hospitable people. But there’s much more to this humble island of 2.8 million inhabitants. An innate creativity and abundance of natural resources allow for an extensive selection of exquisite and remarkably unique products such as Jamaican jerk. Read more on Nearshore Americas’ website here:  http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/secret-true-jamaican-jerk/

One love,

SC

Stephen’s Homemade Five-Spice Sorrel Jam and Drink

For most people in the Caribbean, Christmas isn’t the same without a glass of sorrel, chilled to perfection, especially when made with a shot or two of “festivity” (read: rum). But these exotic, crimson red sepals can also be enjoyed in other forms. Here’s a simple but divine recipe for my all-natural, no-preservative-added sorrel drink and jam with cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and pimento. (This recipe puts nothing to waste since the jam is made from the leftover pulp after the juice has been extracted to make the drink).

sorrel

Sorrel drink – what you’ll need:

  • 2 lbs fresh sorrel (washed)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6-8 slices of fresh ginger
  • 12-15 pimento seeds (allspice)
  • 5-6 cardamom seeds
  • 5 cups brown sugar
  • 10-12 cups water (about 3 quarts)

sorrel jam and sorrel drink

Method:

  1. Pour water into pot and add cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger, pimento and cardamom and allow to come to a boil.
  2. Add sorrel to boiling water and continue boiling the mixture for about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and let steep for at least 8 hours. Overnight is best.
  4. Using a strainer, separate the liquid from the pulp. Discard the cinnamon sticks and set pulp aside.
  5. In a large jug, stir in sugar to sweeten. Adjust sweetness if necessary.
  6. Store in bottles and refrigerate. (The mixture is best when left to refrigerate overnight so the flavours can further develop).

Stephen's homemade sorrel jam

Sorrel Jam – What you’ll need:

  • pulp from 2 lbs sorrel (No need for additional spices as the pulp would have retained the pimento seeds, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and the flavour from the cinnamon sticks. However, I’d suggest removing most of the ginger as it tends to make the end product a little fibrous.)
  • juice of one lime
  • 4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 oz Appleton rum (or your favourite rum) – optional

sorrel jam

Method:

  1. In a blender, purée sorrel pulp until a smooth consistency is achieved. (You may need to add water accordingly)
  2. Add puréed mixture to a large pot over high heat and stir in water, sugar, rum, and lime juice.
  3. Allow mixture to come to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning.
  4. Adjust sweetness as desired.
  5. After mixture is reduced to jam-like consistency, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  6. Pour in sterilized glass jars and store in refrigerator.

sorrel jam and sorrel drink

You can enjoy your jam with crackers, on bread, with peanut butter, or one of my faves; with cream cheese spread on warm bagel. You’ll never buy another jar of jam again.

Happy holidays,
SC

Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese and Coffee-Flavoured Honey

Following the success of the recipe in my previous post, I was determined to find yet another that starred my beloved gorgonzola cheese.  Between my ADHD and uncanny ability to wake up just in the nick of time, I am always looking for quick recipes that don’t sacrifice taste and quality. And I didn’t have to search far.

Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese and HoneyKist Blue Mountain Flavoured Coffee

For my version of this time-tested recipe, I used whole wheat bread, gorgonzola cheese crumbled straight from the block, and HoneyKist’s Blue Mountain Coffee Honey. (see my previous post on this line of gourmet flavoured honey here)

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices whole wheat bread, cut in half diagonally
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces gorgonzola, sliced/crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons HoneyKist’s Blue Mountain Coffee Flavoured Honey

Method:

  1. Brush bread slices with olive oil.
  2. Toast in a toaster oven for 6-8 minutes or until bread is golden and crisp.
  3. Remove bread and top with gorgonzola slices/crumbles, return to toaster oven, and bake until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.
  4. Drizzle the toasts with honey. Enjoy immediately

Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese and HoneyKist Blue Mountain Flavoured Coffee

This was supposed to be two servings but I couldn’t stop myself. If you’re a lover of sharp cheeses then you’ll definitely fall for this recipe. The first bite instantly awakens your tastebuds to the pungency and saltiness of the gorgonzola, then just as immediately comes the flowery sweetness of the honey. Oh wait, what’s that?? That, my friend, would be subtle, almost unidentifiable notes of coffee. Just, wow.

Go try it. Thank me later.

SC

Jackfruit Salad with Gorgonzola Cheese? Ahmm, yes please!

This recipe idea popped in my head out of desperation for a breakfast quick-fix. I had recently purchased some jackfruit and realised that I needed to consume it before spoilage took over. While rummaging through my fridge, I also discovered a block of gorgonzola cheese that was neatly tucked among a chaos of other neglected ingredients. (I was meaning to clean my fridge for about a week now but hadn’t gotten around to it, because procrastination.)

Jackfruit

Enormous & prickly on the outside, jackfruit somewhat resembles durian. Once cut open, the yellow fleshy fruit pods or “bulbs” are revealed. [image source]

Native to parts of South and Southeast Asia, the jackfruit tree is well suited to tropical lowlands. It is commonly found here in Jamaica, but some persons don’t take to the fruit as easily because of its strong smell and flavour that may be cloying. With a starchy and fibrous texture, the flavour of the flesh of the jackfruit can be likened to a combination of pineapple, mango and banana.

gorgonzola cheese

Gorgonzola cheese – marbled by streaks of green and considered the Italian member of the Blue Cheese family – is commonly paired with sweet aromatic fruits like apples and pears, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the very strong, sweet, fruity aroma of the fibrous jackfruit flesh would be as good a compliment to the contrast of pungent, salty, creamy gorgonzola. To bring the flavours together even more, I tossed the salad in ginger extract, which added yet another depth of flavour and aromatic complexity. Also, I’ve had gorgonzola cheese that comes already crumbled, but I find if you crumble it directly from the block it tends to be richer and creamier with a more satisfying taste.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Jackfruit chunks
  • ¼ cup gorgonzola cheese crumbles (preferably cut from the block for a richer, creamier texture)
  • 1 tbsp ginger extract

Jackfruit

Method:

  1. Combine jackfruit and gorgonzola in a bowl.
  2. Add ginger extract and toss to combine.
  3. Refridgerate for at least 20 minutes to allow flavours to come together and for salad to chill.
  4. Remove from fridge and enjoy.
Jackfruit and Gorgonzola Cheese Salad

Jackfruit and Gorgonzola Cheese Salad

I really recommend you try this simple dish of robust and contrasting flavours and textures.

One love,

SC