Monday, April 19, 2010

Jerk Paste

Jerk is one of the cornerstones of Jamaican cuisine. It is either a paste or a dry rub of brown spices, garlic, peppers, ginger, and thyme that dates back to colonial times. It combines the flavors of the old world and the new in a fantastic, unusual way. Jerk was used as a means of preserving meat in the days before refrigeration—much the way that very spicy rubs or salts have been used in other parts of the world. As such, it is pretty potent stuff (spice wimps should probably be cautious with my Jerk recipes). Today, jerk is ideal either as a marinade (especially good for grilling tofu, vegetables, meat, and fruit) or as a sauce. Jerk is one of those things that can be made a thousand different ways. This is my recipe.

Also note that if you wish to save time, there are commercially-available jerk pastes that work well for my recipes as well. I most highly recommend Neera’s; it’s long been my favorite. You can find it in a small jar in the condiment aisle of many gourmet and natural food stores, as well as online. But one word of caution: if you go with a store-bought paste in any of my recipes, be warned that these are often more potent than my recipe. As a result, it is probably a good idea to start with about a third of what my recipes call for and add additional jerk slowly, tasting as you go, in order to avoid overdoing it. And because these pastes often contain varying amounts of salt, the same is true for salt in my recipes that use jerk paste.

1 TBSP ground allspice
¾ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1.5 tsp ground clove
3 TBSP vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 Habenero or Scotch Bonnet chilies (heat wimps can use 2 peppers)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 TBSP dried thyme
2 teaspoons salt
1-2 TBSP fresh ginger
5 scallions, chopped
1 TBSP brown sugar
3 TBSP fresh lime juice
¼ cup white vinegar

In small dish, combine allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.

Heat oil in a small frying pan on medium. Add the garlic and sauté, stirring constantly, until the garlic just begins to turn light golden—about 1 minute. Add spice combination. Stir constantly another 20 seconds and remove from heat. Transfer immediately to a bowl.

Now combine all other ingredients, along with the spice/garlic mixture, in a food processor or blender. Process until it is a smooth liquid.

Stores in the refrigerator for months.

1 comment:

  1. I've been craving Rasta Pasta ever since I moved from F.C.. Thanks!