Jamaican Shrimp is a simple recipe that sizzles with the fiery flavor of jerk spice seasoning.
"Jerk" refers to a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meats are dry-rubbed or marinated with a fiery spice mixture before grilling. The spice mixture, called jerk spice or jerk seasoning, typically contains allspice and habanero or Scotch bonnet peppers. Additional ingredients vary from cook to cook, but cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and thyme are most commonly used.
HistoryThere are as many stories about the origins of jerk as there are jerk recipes. But many credit the method of jerking to the Maroons, runaway slaves who lived in the rugged Jamaican mountains in the 17th century.
Hunters of wild boar, the Maroons highly seasoned portions of boar meat with peppers and spices before slowly cooking them over a fire pit. They may have learned this method from the indigenous Arawak Indians as a way to prevent spoilage in the tropical Caribbean heat.
Today pork, chicken, fish and even tofu are prepared in this tradition and outdoor jerk stations are the popular eating spots in towns all over Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Buying TipsYou can mix your own jerk spice recipe or buy a commercially prepared blend in your grocer's spice aisle.
Storage TipsAs with all herbs and spices, keep in an airtight container, away from heat, moisture and sunlight (avoid storing near the stove or windows). Seasoning blends typically retain their freshness for one to two years.
Usage TipsThe depth of sweet and savory flavor achieved by seasoning with jerk spice is unparalleled. Give your meats and seafood some island sizzle with a dry-rub of Jamaican spice before grilling or broiling. Two tablespoons should be enough for two lbs. of chicken, shrimp, pork, ribs or lamb.
Or let meats soak in the flavor with a tenderizing jerk marinade or paste. Brush on a taste-tempting mix of jerk spice, lemon juice, brown sugar and olive oil.
Try one of our favorite jerk spice recipes:
Fiery Island Pineapple Pork Chops
Jamaican Chicken Salad
Jamaican Cole Slaw