National Food and Drink in Jamaica
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Jerk chicken and pork are quintessential Jamaican cuisine. Jerk is a style of cooking in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet-marinated with a hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice (allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers). This spice mixture can be applied to fish, shrimp, shellfish, beef, sausage, lamb or tofu.
This tasty treat can be deep-fried or dried. For a sweet taste, plantain chips can be covered with sugar or honey, or they can be fried in oil and spices if you prefer them salty and a little spicy.
Scotch Bonnet Peppers
Scotch bonnet peppers are found mainly in the Caribbean islands and are often used in preparing Jamaican food and pepper sauces. Most Scotch bonnets have a heat rating of 100,000-350,000 Scoville heat units, which indicates the amount of capsaicin -- the chemical compound that makes spicy things spicy -- in a pepper. Just for comparison, most jalapeno peppers have a heat rating of 2,500-8,000.
Escoveitch fish is a traditional Jamaican dish served for breakfast. It’s usually with a side of bammies, a type of fried cassava bread. Escoveitch fish is similar to ceviche, but the fish is fried instead of prepared raw. Escoveitch is a variation of the Spanish word “escabeche,” which is used to describe food that’s pickled. In case you didn’t know, pickling was a technique used to keep food from spoiling before refrigeration was invented.
Coconut water and coconut milk are popular products made and sold in Jamaica. The coconut also has multiple culinary uses, with islanders using it as an ingredient in several dishes and sauces, including curry.
Blue Mountain Coffee
Grown in the Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, this coffee is one of the most popular and expensive brands in the world. More than 80 percent of all Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is exported to Japan. Known for its mild, bitter-free taste, this coffee is only considered Blue Mountain coffee if the beans are harvested from Saint Andrew, Saint Thomas, Portland and Saint Mary parishes in Jamaica.
This dish originated in India, but it is a popular party dish in Jamaica. At a big cultural party or dance -- like the Notting Hill Carnival -- an expert is usually brought in to cook it. The Jamaican twist on this dish is that it is usually made with a mild spice mix, whereas the original Indian dish is much spicier. Mutton is sometimes used instead of goat.
Stamp and Go
Stamp and Go is a fish fritter usually served as part of a Jamaican breakfast. It’s made of flour, saltfish, onions, peppers and other spices. Stamp and Go is often referred to as one of the original fast foods.
Ackee with Salt Cod
Ackee is a fruit that was imported to Jamaica from West Africa before 1778. It is often paired with saltfish to make the island’s national dish. Salt cod is sautéed with boiled ackee, onions, Scotch bonnet peppers, tomatoes and spices. It is usually served as breakfast or dinner with breadfruit, hard dough bread, dumplings, fried plantains or boiled green bananas.