Jamaican food: not all jerks


Yeh, mon. We just took a trip to the island nation of Jamaica and, just for you, I paid attention to the food. Yes, there were lots of jerk spice packets to be purchased at the outposts. And jerk chicken or pork appeared on many menus. But the real culinary enjoyment came from the seafood and vegetarian dishes.

I was surprised to find a handful of cookbooks for sale at our hotel sundries shop. This one, first published in 1981 and called Jamaican Cookery: Recipes From Old Jamaican Grandmothers, looked good.

Of all of the recipes, here are three that may be most worth having in your ethnic food process arsenal.

IMG_0616FRESH COCONUT MILK

This is the perfect example of a recipe that can get you out of the canned good aisle and into the produce aisle.

The recipe for coconut milk, like so many drinks in Jamaica (see the mixed drink recipes in the collage above), requires a blender. But before you get to the blend step, you will need one cup of shredded coconut. Here is a great video on how to prepare fresh grated coconut, including the best method for cracking the coconut open. Here are steps in a nutshell (haha): drop the coconut on the floor to break apart, knife out meat, peel away remaining shell lining, cube cleaned white remainder, then grate (a food processor would work well).

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RED SNAPPER PAPILLOT

Red snapper is divine and this recipe includes the added elements of cheddar, shrimp, and crawfish. If you can’t find or don’t want to use crawfish, you might just double your shrimp portion. “French paper” is parchment paper. You may use a stapler to keep the edges folded together on top. Alternatively, you might be able to find parchment paper bags to use but make sure everything doesn’t slide out the side. There is something lovely about being able to open up your dinner like a present.

Additional love: they state that magazines like Town & Country featured this recipe. There certainly are lots of variations of it online.

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RICE AND PEAS

So many Caribbean dishes carry a side of rice and beans or, as the Jamaicans call them, rice and peas. This recipe calls for more coconut, this time running water through grated coconut enough for a quart of coconut milk skim version. I am already planning on using a quart of freshly made coconut milk using the recipe above instead. You may have already noticed that no time frame for cooking is given. One time saver would be to use cooked beans. These will be out of a can and will also result in less saturation of the coconut milk into the beans.

Enjoy your Jamaican dishes– no jerks needed

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foodprocess.org: forget processed food, get a food process
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