Over the years I've shared countless recipes for making jerk marinades, sauces, how to make finger-licking Jamaican jerk in the oven and classic jerk on your grill and bbq. As we continue our annual July Month Of Grilling I thought I'd shift focus and share a gluten friendly version of this classic Jamaican jerk marinade for our friends who deal with gluten intolerance. A jerk marinade which goes well with fish, shrimp, pork and in this case, some chicken legs which we'll marinate before slowly cooking them over a moderate coals-fire in the back yard.
One of the things I looked forward too the entire trip to Jamaica was the FISH. From the jerk, to them being steamed with okra and crackers to my favorite... escovitch! Red Snapper (or Parrot fish) seasoned, perfectly fried, then topped with the spicy pickled dressing known as escovitch sauce. For most the thin slices of Scotch Bonnet were to be avoided, but they were like little prizes between the sweet peppers, scallions, onions and other ingredients in the vinegar based sauce. Any trip to the Caribbean is more than just a homecoming, it's a culinary extravaganza for me and Jamaica did not disappoint!
I must have been about 6 at the time... a bit vague, but that would have been my first "burger' experience. Dad took my brother and I to 'town' (Port of Spain) to spend the day at the zoo and the choice was Burger Boys or Wimpy's! This was before McDonalds, Burger King and Wendys invaded the Caribbean. Not sure why we ended up at Wimpy's, but I still recall sharing a massive platter with my brother as we joked with my dad that it looked like something from the Flintstones. Even to this day, when we grill/BBQ in the Caribbean burgers and hotdogs rarely ever touch the grates.. we want REAL meat (and fish)!
Curry channa and aloo (chickpeas and potato) is a classic vegetarian curry dish hailing from the Caribbean... with a strong Indian influence. Due to the fact that Indian indentured laborers where brought in from India after slavery was abolished to upkeep the sugarcane industry. I started adding chicken to the mix as a means of adding more flavor and added texture to the mix. Plus it's a great way to use chicken breast, without it going dry and bland. I may have mentioned that I'm no fan of chicken breast - more a dark-meat kinda guy. In this recipe we'll cut back on the overall cooking time by using canned chickpeas (Channa) and in an upcoming post, I'll show you how to use shrimp instead of chicken.
We're starting the 2015 edition of July's Month Of Grilling with a serious BANG! If you grew up on the islands during my time you'd know that if you served a guest a chicken wing, that would be considered an insult. A nice thick thigh, drumstick or chicken breast (say chicken chest) was expected, to avoid the mumbles and ole talk after. However, for as long as I could remember I had a weakness for chicken wings. Coming to North america where there's this 'wing' culture... let's just say I blame my waistline on these juicy morsels of pure delight!
My passion for peppersauce (homemade hot sauces) is fueled by having been surrounded by very creative peppersauce makers even as a little boy on the islands, but more importantly... my daughters possess the same sort of intense affection for the fiery stuff as I do. There's no better motivation than having those close to you share the same traits, so when you get creative in the kitchen, you know it's something you will connect with as a family. With the use of the Trinidad Moruga Scorpions which at the time of making this sauce is the 2nd hottest pepper in the world, you're getting a hot sauce which should be used with extreme caution. But I find that by using the blueberries, you get a lovely fruity roundness.
TinTin (Christina), my dad's mom guarded her dried pigeon peas like they do gold at Ft Knox. It was common knowledge that if peas were out of season, she had some stored in airtight bottles somewhere in the dimly lit-smoky kitchen of hers. I still recall the scent of that kitchen, a mixture of the musty tobacco she always had drying in the ceiling and the smoke from the different types of hard-wood she would use to fire-up the coal pot she would use to to cook her meals. Not to mention the actual smoke from the pipe she smoked all her life! To this day, I'm still to taste a stewed dried pigeon peas like the stew this woman would make on that coal pot, in that simple kitchen.
Dasheen Bush is basically the leaves (usually the tender ones) of the Dasheen plant (Taro) which is used mainly in the Southern Caribbean for making Callaloo or as in this case, stewed down on it's own like you would spinach or any other 'greens'. With the aid of coconut milk and a few simple ingredients and what you'd think is a simple vegetarian dish, is something very tasty and in my case, quite addictive. It's was one of the few vegetarian type dishes mom never had a hard time serving us as kids. With Sada roti, flour dumplings or with split peas dhal and rice... iman was in heaven.
Rundown is yet another stew type dish where there are several variations as you make your way across the Caribbean. From the ingredients used to the technique, you'll find that as you go from island to island, you'll encounter subtle (delicious) differences. This recipe was shared with me many moons ago when I first came to Canada and I became friends with the only other Caribbean family who lived the the same apartment building we called home the early years in Hamilton. My friend's Jamaican grandmother was a general in the kitchen and from time to time she would share some of her secrets with me... she saw the curiosity in my eyes!
There are several variations to fish soups as you make your way up and down the island chain of the Caribbean, so there's no surprise that I have several recipes in my repertoire. This version is very similar to the fish broff (broth) you'd find in Trinidad and Tobago, which I shared a few years back. Fairly light when compared to the thick stew-like soups we enjoy in the Caribbean, but you can certainly add yams, green cooking bananas, sweet potatoes, dasheen and other ingredients if you like.