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.

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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,

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New Restaurant – Opa! Greek Restaurant and Lounge

Opa! logoThere’s a new restaurant in town, and being one of two Greek restaurants on the island (the other being Mykonos Greek Bar and Grill in Ocho Rios) and certainly the only one in Kingston, I am pretty eager to check it out. Owned and operated by Alexx Antaeus – the same guy who brought us Isle Chix (Jamaican Cornish-style hens) – Opa! Greek Restaurant and Lounge promises to focus on fresh interpretations of traditional Greek cuisine, with a Jamaican flair, where patrons can delight in the unique and healthful benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Patrons will also be able to experience  premium Greek wine and spirits from the restaurant’s signature bar lounge.

Alexx Antaeus, proprietor of Opa!

Alexx Antaeus, proprietor of Opa! [Photo credit: Skkan Media Entertainment]

Authentic Greek cuisine

As an experienced restaurateur with strong food service and entertainment backgrounds, Opa!’s principal proprietor Alexx Antaeus, who is also a music producer with a recording studio in Manhattan, New York,  brings a fresh approach to the dining and bar experience. Opa!’s design will feature a modern and relaxing atmosphere with both indoor and alfresco dining and bar options. Targeting business professionals and diplomats, Opa! sits in between fine dining and elegantly casual, and also accommodates persons wishing to chill after dinner before heading out to the city’s night-life. Full menu will be available up to midnight. Antaeus has committed to sourcing ingredients from local and regional suppliers where possible, with a preference for organically grown products. To ensure authenticity and quality, master Greek chef Giannis Tobas, and Greek celebrity chef Maria Loi have been brought in to collaborate on menu development and overall restaurant operations.

Celebrity Chef Maria Loi and Master Greek Chef Yannis Tobas.

Celebrity Chef Maria Loi and Master Greek Chef Yannis Tobas.

I have always admired how the Greeks celebrate food and wine as quintessential ingredients for a good time. The very-fitting “Opa!” is a word Greeks use as a pronouncement of celebration; the celebration of life itself.

Opa! Greek Restaurant and Lounge flyerOpa! is located at 75 Hope Road (a block up from Citibank) and will kick open its doors on Wednesday 20 November with a special event honouring US Ambassador Bridgewater for the completion of her three-year service to Jamaica. The Ambassador will host her private guests, but patrons can make reservations for any time between the hours of 5PM and 12AM. I’ll be sure to share my experience in a subsequent post.

For more information, visit their facebook and twitter pages.

Opa!

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689 by Brian Lumley (Pre-Opening Tasting)

It’s safe to say that you’re buried deep under a rock if you haven’t heard about Brian Lumley, one of Jamaica’s most revered chefs, and who has already begun his journey on becoming a regional culinary pioneer. This under-25 gourmet prodigy has already received a number of local and international accolades, the latest being the coveted Caribbean Chef of the Year award at the recently concluded Taste of the Caribbean 2013 Culinary Showcase in Miami, Florida. (Read more here)

Brian Lumley, Chef de Cuisine

Brian Lumley, Chef de Cuisine

But, of highest note – and the realization of any chef’s dream – is his very own restaurant, 689 by Brian Lumley located in the heart of Jamaica’s capital city Kingston. I along with fellow foodies and food critics had the opportunity to partake in a private pre-opening tasting earlier this week and it was quite memorable dining experience! I had the pleasure of being accompanied by two very good friends, Joleen and Nakeeta.

To kick-off the 5 course meal, we were served a bowl of piping hot fish chowder with fresh garlic bread. The garlic bread faded into the background as I sipped away at the luxurious chowder while thinking yes, just the perfect dish to prepare the stomach for rest of the night.

Fish chowder with fresh garlic bread

fish chowder with fresh garlic bread

While we waited for course 2, our waiter, Omar, came presenting my all-time-fave cocktail, mojitos! Peach mojitos to be exact. Boy was I in heaven! Actually, make that THREE trips to heaven…I just couldn’t get enough.

Peach Mojito at 689

Peach Mojito

Then came course 2, a delectable platter of curried chicken spring rolls with thai chilli sauce. The contrasting flavours and textures worked well with this dish. Just when we thought we had enough, our tastebuds prompted us for one last bite. Next thing you know, we’re staring at the remaining sauce and wondering, how did that happen!

curried chicken spring rolls with thai chilli sauce

curried chicken spring rolls with thai chilli sauce

By time we finished a few jokes, course 3 was on its way. A healthy serving of lobster spaghettini splashed with wine got me excited. Its lobster; it’s supposed to secrete an ounce or two of endorphins. Perfectly cooked pasta, with a light tomato sauce and conspicuous chunks of lobster meat. The dish was a little shy of salt, but that was quickly taken care of. The rest was history.

lobster spaghettini splashed with white wine

lobster spaghettini splashed with wine

By this time, Brian had announced that there would have been a service break where patrons were free to chat with the chef himself, intermingle, or check out the bar.

Stephen and his peach mojito

couldn’t get enough of the peach mojitos!

After about 45 minutes or so, service resumed with course 4 which consisted of two entrées: coconut curry green split peas with house-made flat bread and a Herbes de Provence chicken breast with fresh tomato sauce. The house-made flatbread was the perfect vehicle to transport the intricate medley of flavours that was the split pea curry where it needed to be – in my tummy!

coconut curry green split peas with house-made flat bread

coconut curry green split peas with house-made flat bread

Now onto the chicken dish. Guys, believe me when I tell you that this. was. the. most. perfectly. cooked. chicken. ever. Cutting into the chicken took zero effort. Then the moment it arrived to my mouth I was instantly alerted that this ain’t no ordinary chicken! Perfectly moist, perfectly seasoned, and perfectly aromatized with a classic medley of dried herbs. The accompanying tomato sauce provided the perfect pairing to the delicate flavours. Joleen, Nakeeta and I couldn’t stop mentioning how perfect the chicken was. I even made sure I commended Brian on this in particular. It takes some good skills to get chicken this perfect!

Herbes de Provence chicken breast with fresh tomato sauce

Herbes de Provence chicken breast with fresh tomato sauce

And then, what would any good meal be without a great dessert. So said, so done. A luxurious passion fruit cheesecake that needed to be savoured one bite at a time! Hats off to the pastry chef for creating the perfect balance of sweet and tang. The seeds on top added another level of textural complexity, allowing for an even more enjoyable mouthfeel. Truly divine.

passion fruit cheesecake

passion fruit cheesecake

The second dessert was a pineapple, guava and ginger tart. I’m not really a big fan of tarts, but this was pretty yummy!  (Or probably I was too mesmerized by the cheesecake).

pinepple, guave and ginger tart

pineapple, guava and ginger tart

Indeed it was a great night. We were pleased. Our stomachs were pleased. All was well with the world.

689 door

The doors will officially swing open on September 8 at 6:00 p.m. And no, that’s not the meaning behind the “689”. Then what is it really? Well, there’s a beautifully designed mural inside with the whole shebang, so go make your reservations and check it out! (To reserve a table on opening night email bookcheflumley@gmail.com). 689 is located at 20-22 Trinidad Terrace, Kingston (Quad entrance).

Check them out on Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram.

Let me know how your experience was,

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Creamy Mashed Sweet Potato

The past weekend I took some time to catch up on some introspection, and what better way to do so than letting my creativity flow in the kitchen? (Well, there’s also the option of running to escape The Blerch – which I also did.) Mom had recently brought me some fresh produce and included in my care package were some good ole sweet potatoes.

sweet_potatoe

Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are a personal fave. Their versatility lends to an array of sweet and savory dishes, and makes it easily paired with a variety of herbs and spices. These starchy, naturally-sweet, tuberous roots can be made into a salad, side dish, main course, dessert and even a drink. Here in Jamaica, sweet potatoes are commonly enjoyed as a staple food crop, usually as a substitute for rice.

Creamy Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Elle & Vire’s premium cooking cream and butter were perfect for this recipe. You really can taste the richness of these quality ingredients. Of course you could have used evaporated milk or regular whole milk but it wouldn’t taste the same. This dish is a great accompaniment to almost any meal and remains a classic and delectable side dish.

One love,

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Okra Roti Wrap w/ HoneyKist® Pimento Gourmet Honey

Many persons are opposed to consuming okras because of their slimy texture. But this dish is sure to please even the most squeamish.  Don’t believe me? Give it a try and see for yourself.

Okra Roti Wrap

Warning: This dish is on the spicy side owing to the addition of ½ scotch bonnet pepper. However, the sweetness from the honey balances out the heat and helps to round out the rest of the flavours. If you’re still scared, you can go ahead and reduce the pepper to your taste. 

cut tomatoes okra_raw cooked okra

Do not wash the okra before cutting. Instead, wipe with a damp cloth. Washing will increase the chances of the okra being too slimy when cooked. If it needs to be washed for whatever reasons, use paper towel to dry properly before cutting. To reduce sliminess even more, leave cut okras uncovered in fridge overnight.

Happy cooking,

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HoneyKist® Gourmet Flavoured Honey – 100% Jamaican

I am a happy camper! My very own package of assorted flavoured gourmet honey is here from HoneyKist Jamaica. If you haven’t at least heard of them then you totally live under a rock because these are a big hit and should be part of any foodie’s pantry.

100% jcan honey
100% Jamaican, 100% pure

The line of gourmet honey (HoneyFusions) is sourced and manufactured entirely right here in Jamaica by HoneyKist Apiaries (HKA) Limited, a family-owned, family-oriented business that truly embraces the eat local concept. The company prides themselves in harvesting 100% Jamaican honey at its peak of maturity and incorporating the purest of ingredients, nothing artificial added.

And they weren’t joking when they said “pleasing to the eyes, nose and palette.” The packaging is remarkably nifty and chic.

You can choose any of their five flavours: pimento, blue mountain coffee, lime , habanero pepper and ginger, or go hard and indulge in all five.

Camera 360The possibilities are endless with each distinct flavour, made with real ingredients. In fact, each bottle of naturally flavoured honey boasts the benefits of the actual ingredient it represents. So yea, you can actually take the hassle out of sourcing limes and mixing up that concoction for the common cold and try HoneyKist’s Lime Fusion instead. Wowza!

After much deliberation to open the jars because I didn’t want to mess with how attractive the packaging was, I was a little surprised how true-to-life each flavour was. My personal fave is the habanero pepper and blue mountain coffee. No surprise here since I’m a sucker for pepper and coffee.

honeykist honeyHoneyFusions are available in different sized individual packages for your convenience. Check them out on the web at www.honeykistja.com/ and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ll be aspiring to develop an array of recipes with each flavour so stay tuned! In the meanwhile, go grab yourself a jar and let’s share in the #foodiebliss.

One love,
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