Saturday, 16 July 2011
I have very little experience of Caribbean food. I own a book by Levi Roots and have heard about the classics like jerk chicken and rice and peas, but have never tried them. I don't eat meat so jerk chicken is unlikely to make an appearance on my table any time soon, but I liked the principle of something spicy and grilled. And when a couple of local supermarkets introduced small Afro-Caribbean sections in their ethnic food aisles, I enthusiastically bought some jerk seasoning mix by Dunn's River. Unfortunately this then sat in the cupboard for about six months before I got round to doing something with it.
But eventually I remembered it was there, and decided that jerk trout was the way forward. It's a pretty robust fish that can take strong flavours and is also relatively cheap (always a bonus). So for my jerk marinade I made a paste with one medium onion, a couple of fat cloves of garlic, about a tablespoon of thyme leaves and around two and half generous tablespoons of the jerk seasoning powder. I used a bit of oil to bind everything together too. This was then rubbed onto two whole cleaned trout, that I made some slashes in, and left to marinate for about 45minutes. If I'd planned better I would have left it for longer and maybe overnight. The trout were then drizzled with a little more oil and cooked under a hot grill, until the skin was crisp and beginning to char a little. So around seven or eight minutes on each side (or until cooked through).
And I have to say that I was really impressed with the outcome. I generally don't favour ready made spice mixes, but having no idea what should go in it, this jerk seasoning was a really convenient option and very tasty. Looking at the ingredients it contained coriander, chilli, pepper, pimento, cinnamon, marjoram, bay, and nutmeg, as well as salt and sugar. And I don't think it need any extra spices adding to it at all (unlike with many pre-mixed spice mixes). On a side note- it was quite salty though, so there's no need to add extra salt to this dish. The saltiness on the surface evened out when combined with eating the actual fish though, but if you're sensitive about that sort of thing then maybe use less of the mix than I did.
I served my jerk trout with some steamed broccoli and greens, and as we had one whole fish per person, that was more than enough. The fish was spicy with chilli heat but also had other flavours that I would have been pushed to identify. It was a very different type of spiciness to the Indian food I'm used to, but equally as good. So a definite thumbs up for jerk from me!
Have a look at the Food Stories blog for more information on all things jerk from a true enthusiast.
Dunn's River Jerk Seasoning
I rate it 8/10
Cost: Around £1.40 for a 100g tub