Discover Caribbean flavor and Jamaican spice in lively jerk cooking, at home

Discover Caribbean flavor and Jamaican spice in lively jerk cooking, at home

  • By Sue Ade
  • Tuesday, July 22, 2014 5:04pm
  • LifeFood

Native to Jamaica, “jerk” is a way of cooking in which meat, typically chicken or pork, is dry-rubbed or marinated in a wet mixture comprised of allspice (in Jamaica it’s called “pimento), cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, scallions – and the heat of very hot peppers, such as the Scotch Bonnet pepper. The hotness (piquancy) of a pepper is calculated on the “Scoville” scale, named after its creator, American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, who devised it in 1912. Depending on the amount of capsaicin, or Scoville heat units (SHU’s) a pepper contains, it is given a number from zero to 10. To give you a frame of reference, sweet peppers, like bell peppers and Cubanelle peppers, under 100 SHU’s, score zero on the Scoville scale, while the searing Scotch Bonnet pepper, found mainly in the Caribbean, and habanero pepper measures a searing ten, with 100,000-350,000 SHU’s. Believe it, or not, peppers, can be hotter still, with rating of 10+. According to tests conducted in 2012, with a staggering average of 1,569,300 units of heat, the Guinness World Record for the hottest chili pepper was awarded to the “Carolina Reaper,” a hybrid chili pepper bred by cultivator “Smokin’” Ed Currie, founder of the PuckerButt Pepper Company (http://puckerbuttpeppercompany.com/about-us/) in Fort Mill, South Carolina. While some seek spicy hot cuisine with enthusiasm, many find it uncomfortably unpalatable, so the recipe here for Caribbean-style Jerk Chicken Stir Fry, is made with the relatively tame (2,500-8, 0000 SHU’s) jalapeño pepper. To balance the heat with the spice, the dish is also plenty sweet, thanks to the inclusion of honey and brown sugar, which, of course, can be adjusted according to preference. Sweet potatoes and slaw pair nicely with the meal and for dessert, the cooling, refreshing properties of citrus, found in Orange Cream Caramel Flan, will be welcome. If you’re looking to liven-up a summertime menu, a Caribbean-style meal can do that, with color, flavor and as much fire as your dare.

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