Last weekend I was asked "what's your specialty?" in reference to what I cook and without hesitation I said it's not so much a dish or category of food, but technique. As we continue July's Month Of Grilling, I'm sure you can tell that I quite enjoy working with the raw heat of the grill. The essence of the fire changes the overall dish in such a manner that's almost impossible to duplicate on a stove or oven. While we're not using pimento wood to give the burgers that unique "Jamaican Jerk" depth, I assure you that you'll be amazed by what a simple jerk marinade can do to basic ground beef.
As a kid growing up on the islands, one of our favorite frozen treats were ice blocks. Any fruit juice mom would make, we'd fill ice trays with and when frozen, they would be perfect for the tropical heat of the Caribbean (known locally as ice-blocks). Besides the various fruit juices she'd make from local fruits, our fave was always cool aid... especially "red" and grape! This is one of those recipes that's not really a recipe, but rather a fun way to get the kids involved in the kitchen.
I may have mentioned this in the past, but growing up on the islands I never liked fish and I think the same can be said about my brother and sisters (mom had a tough time with us). While I outgrew this, I still think my sisters are not fans of fish to this day. My brother on the other hand, elevated his taste buds.. so it's not strange to see him at seafood restaurants in New York sitting behind a massive lobster feasting away. While my fav fish dish is my mom's curry Kingfish, during the summer months this grilled fish is something I do quite often.
Yes, it's time again for the annual July Month Of Grilling and we're kicking things off with one of the best chicken recipes I've ever shared. Growing up on the islands, grilling/BBQ was never really something we'd have at home. BBQ at home wasn't common (I don't ever recall seeing a propane grill), so the odd time we'd have anything close to bbq, it would be takeout or the times we'd have village bazaars, where it would also be on sale. However when we were treated to bbq takeout.. what a feast!
If you're unfamiliar with "Caribbean" history you'd asking why is this fella from the islands trying to impress us with a Tabouleah recipe? Immigrants from the Middle East started to arrive in places like Trinidad and Tobago as early as 1904. So you'll find that like the strong Colonial, African, Indian and Chinese influence on our foods, that same sort of influence from Syria and Lebanon is present on our dinner tables.
I must have been about 10 years old when my aunt and uncle had gone on vacation in Canada and I spent the nights (weekends) with my older cousin. With an entire house to ourselves, you can only imagine the commess (creative trouble) we got into. It was about 11 pm one night when we decided we'd make fried chicken. Beyond the total destruction of the kitchen (oil and flour everywhere), we ended up with bland over-cooked chicken. As with any true Caribbean child, we employed the use of peppersauce, ketchup and mustard to salvage things.
"Dad, can you make me chow?" No Mango! "How about shrimp?" That was the brief discussion between Tehya and I a few weeks back when she got her routine craving for mango chow. A spicy pickle usually made with green (tart) mangoes, or any of the variety of fruits we have in the Caribbean. Had to admit, it was a brilliant idea. We both enjoy shrimp cocktail and with the sort of spicy base.. could this be the "Caribbean" version of shrimp cocktail?
After moving to Canada I was exposed to many 'new' ingredients, which were not found in the typical Caribbean garden or market. One such ingredient which became an immediate hit with my taste buds was asparagus. Normally I'd grill them, but early in the season when it's still a bit too cold to go outside and spark up the grill, I like doing this sort of stew (stir-fry for many). Based on the method we use for making a saltfish (salted cod) stew in the Caribbean, this is certainly one of the best ways to enjoy asparagus.
Mom never swayed from the 'traditional' way of cooking curry chicken (as done in the Caribbean) when she would sort us out with a good curry and dhalpuri roti on the occasional Sunday morning. While nothing can compare to such a classic method of cooking curry chicken, I'm always looking for ways to change things up a bit. In this recipe we'll marinate the chicken in a rich yogurt curry marinade, before roasting it in the oven.
We'll not be using the traditional method of making classic Jamaican jerk pork as I know how difficult it is to get pimento wood and during the winter months in temperate countries, your oven or slow cooker tends to be our best friend. We'll take classic jerk spices and flavor ingredients and marinate the pork shoulder before slowing roasting it in the oven, until fork tender. Then we'll toss it in your fav jerk BBQ sauce, for what I believe is the best pulled pork.