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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Spicy Curried Shrimp Lettuce Wraps with Creamy Peanut Sauce

“What good is our best dish if we have not friends to share it with?” – Stephen Charoo, 2013

will cook for friends

With this quote in mind, I can’t say enough how much I love to cook for loved ones. There is just something eerily euphoric when I see the reactions from a well received dish of my creation.

That said, my good friend Jo-Anne and I have been plotting to have a cook-up at her house for some time now.

Today it finally happened.

The menu was shy of ambitious (in terms of volume that is) but we fared well.

This dish was inspired by my trip to The Cheesecake Factory while visiting my aunt and cousin in Chicago, Illinois a few years ago. Theirs was a Thai lettuce wrap with chicken satays, but of course, I had to put my own twist to it. Lettuce wraps are pretty fun to eat, and puts control in the hands of the guest. Serve the fillings on a platter with whole lettuce leaves on the side, and let your friends and family wrap their own.

Jo-Anne

Jo-Anne

 Starter: Spicy Curried Shrimp Lettuce Wraps with Creamy Peanut Sauce

Camera 360

Ingredients:

  • 1 head fresh iceberg lettuce (6-8 leaves)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 carrot, shredded or cut into thin strips
  • ¼ cup black olives, seeded, chopped
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • Peanut sauce (recipe below)
  • Curried shrimp (recipe below)

Camera 360

Method:

  1. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves and arrange on a larger platter.
  2. Arrange accompanying fillings alongside lettuce leaves.
  3. Let your guests create their own lettuce wraps by choosing a filling or fillings and placing it on a leaf along with the peanut sauce and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  4. Fold the leaf in half and enjoy!
toasted almonds

toasted almonds

Curried shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1 24 oz. pack deveined, shelled, small shrimp
  • one medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, 2 finely chopped, 2 smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • cumin powder (geera)
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme leaves
  • 1 small scotch bonnet pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. oil for stir-frying

Method:

  1. In a bowl, combine shrimp, onion, chopped garlic, bay leaf, thyme leaves, and pepper and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes for flavours to develop.
  2. Mix curry powder and cumin powder in 1/4 cup water.
  3. In a sauté pan, heat 2 tbsp. oil, and add the two cloves of smashed garlic and allow to burn and flavour the oil. Remove and discard garlic after about 3-4 mins.
  4. Add liquid curry mixture and stir constantly until it reduces to about 1/3 or to a viscous consistency.
  5. Add shrimp and cook uncovered on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Try to get as much water to evaporate.
  6. Remove from heat, transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.

Peanut Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame seed oil
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger extract
  • 1/4 cup water

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame seed oil and ginger extract until well mixed. Gradually incorporate water until texture is smooth and creamy.
peanut butter sauce

peanut butter sauce

“Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.”  – Dorothy Day

This starter is pretty good on texture and colour, and surely does hit about every taste bud. Create your own lettuce wraps with your favourite ingredients. And, if you’re looking to drop a few pounds or just to knock off eating healthy from your 2013 resolutions list, then this is definitely a fun and simple way to do it!

Camera 360

Of course, this was only the starter. The rest of the meal included a scrumptious oven-BBQ chicken and potato medallions for the entrée, Jo’s very own creation, and out-of-the-box (literally, not figuratively) brownie. Lol. Sides included blanched string beans, fried ripe plantains, steamed rice, and corn-on-the-cob.

Jo's world-class bbq chicken

Jo’s world-class bbq chicken

corn-on-the-cob

corn-on-the-cob

my plate

my plate

One love,

S.C.

 

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today I celebrate the birthday of my mom, one of the dearest persons to me, and to whom I owe the early beginnings of my culinary journey.

mom

Mother dearest

It’s customary for me to take her to lunch at one of Kingston’s finest restaurants. But this time around I wanted something a little different. We had some catching up to do, so I figure we would drive out of town a little, have a few chats, while exploring the natural beauty of Jamaica. And that we did.

Views from the Palisadoes Strip, Kingston, Jamaica

Views from the Palisadoes Strip, Kingston, Jamaica

After about 20 minutes drive from my New Kingston apartment, a few stops and phone calls to confirm directions, and a few guesses of our own, we arrived at Gloria’s Seafood Restaurant. (No, it wasn’t my first time here, but I suck, I repeat, SUCK at directions. Pair that with a sh*tty memory and you have a killer combination.)

And so we arrived. I was excited to see mom’s reaction as it was her first time. She immediately commented on the scenic view of the mountains and sea, the serenity of the sea-breeze, and the welcomed difference of an open-air space as opposed to numerous indoor restaurants we’ve visited prior. I concur.

Views from the restaurant

Views from the restaurant

We went upstairs and got seated, well, took our seats. Two things flooded my memory about this restaurant: the food is good; but the service, well, erm, not so good. At all. Probably I am a little spoilt from the (few) occasions I’ve received good customer service in past restaurant visits. Devil’s advocate at play, it is Port Royal, a relatively small fishing town, where customer service is probably not front of mind.

mom

Nonetheless, mom and I took the opportunity to bounce around a few chats, photo opps, gossip of surrounding patrons, and some photo opps. (Yes I am aware). After a heavy 10 minutes, and after summoning one of the servers, we were finally approached. We placed our orders and returned to our chatter. Did I say two things? Make that that three. The waiter was kind enough to advise us that the food is done to order, and as such will take at least 30 minutes. And that it did. Well, about 40, but who’s counting? Luckily we had ordered some fish soup for appetizers, but those were finished in no time.

Steve

A hungry Stephen

I allowed mom first choice to see what my meal would be.  Truth be told, I was eyeing the steamed fish with steamed bammy, but mom beat me to it.

Steamed fish & steamed bammy

So I went for the curried shrimp, and festival. Not a fan of (white) rice. It didn’t matter really because the rest of the time was spent crisscrossing hands in each other’s plate.

Curried shrimp

The food was as good as I remembered. The only problem I had with the food is that my shrimp was about 1 ½ minutes overdone. Mom commented on the small portion of the bammy, but personally that’s to my liking. I was quick to preach about portion size and ratio of carbs to protein. That quickly took care of that. I didn’t mind my two measly festivals among the sea of shrimp, nor mom’s three sizeable fish beside her ½ bammy. Extra points for protein! #fistpump

protein power!

This post was not meant to be an official review so I won’t delve too deeply into that. Perfectly seasoned, perfectly priced, perfectly portioned. Crappy service and waiting time unfit for the hungry. And impatient.

I definitely would return; for both the journey and the food.

Of course, it didn’t end there. Mom and I took our photo-shoot across the road where we had a good shot of the sea in the background.

I love you mom!

mom photo collage

Steve.