Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Jerk Spice. A Real Jerk of a Spice. Anita's Spicy Column

Jerk chicken is delicious. You can smell it from blocks away.

It was only after moving to Toronto, did I learn of jerk chicken – a Jamaican invention, a local favourite. The dish can be deceptively unappealing, due to it’s blackened appearance. However, once you’ve tasted it, there’s no turning back. A good jerk chicken should have strong flavours of allspice, a good level of spiciness, and a real smoky aroma.

The word “Jerk” is said to come from the Spanish “charqui”, which are dried strips of meat. Think of “jerky”, or “bak kwa” in Singapore/Malaysia.

Allspice got its name because its taste resembles a combination of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.  In fact, if allspice is not available, some recipes call for a 2:2:1 ratio of cloves: cinnamon: nutmeg.

Jerk chicken is often grilled over hot coals like on a BBQ. However, it’s not everyday that you can have a BBQ, so this spice blend is adapted for roasting jerk chicken in an oven.

I recommend toasting the allspice and black peppercorns in a dry pan until slightly smoky. Then ground the allspice, black peppercorns and garlic flakes into a coarse sandy-texture. Mix in the thyme, chili flakes, garlic, ground ginger and hickory smoke salt. 

Use this jerk spice blend to marinate chicken for a good amount of time (I usually marinate this overnight in the fridge). When ready to cook, bring the marinated chicken up to room temperature and roast in a 370F oven until fully cooked (internal temperature of 160F). 

2 table spoons of whole Allspice  
1 table spoon of whole Black Peppercorns  
1 table spoon of ground Chipotle (or chili flakes of your choice)  
1 table spoon of Garlic flakes  
1/2 table spoon of dried Thyme  
1/2 table spoon of ground Ginger  
1/2 table spoon of Hickory Smoke Salt (or to taste)     

👉 Note that photos do not show spices measured to scale.

Johor Kaki blog on jerk chicken in Toronto Canada 👈 click

About Me

Hi Foodies of the Internet! 

Welcome to Anita's Spicy Column, a personal spice diary where I document my experiments with spice blends, share my experiences of cooking and baking with spice, and tell stories of my spicy life! I am a social scientist by profession, and a university lecturer based in Toronto, Canada. 

I have built for myself a grand wall of spice in my living room and it serves as my reservoir of inspiration and escape. I have my work desk just a stone throw away from this wall of spice, a very strategic move by me I must say. 

Every time I look up from my computer to take a breather, I glance over to my spice collection and it somehow relaxes and recharges me. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m crazy about all things spice. Each spice tells a story of its origin, travel and purpose. 

The humble peppercorn that is in every kitchen was first grown off India’s Malabar coast. It was used as a form of currency and was traded for gold. This fascinates me. 

Every new spice that I encounter, I would purchase a small amount to taste and learn.   

Spice is a gift that we’ve been given and I’m more than excited to be able to share this gift with everyone! 

Date: 8 Aug 2018

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