Innovate Blog
Cuisines from around the world: Fabulously spiced dishes from Jamaica

Tuesday June 19, 2018

Jamaican dishes like jerk chicken, rice and peas, chicken feet soup, goat curry, oxtail stew, callaloo (green vegetable stew) and festival bread (fried dumplings) are set to become extremely popular in 2018.  According to Mintel, Jamaican food featured on 34 per cent more menus in 2017 than in 2016 and is expected to rise a further 15 per cent in 2018.

In a recent article on a hospitality news website, Big Hospitality, Chef Matin Miah comments: “Everyone could use an escape from time to time, and many diners are finding theirs by seeking out new cuisines. Dishes from Jamaica fit the bill perfectly. The flavours of the region lend themselves particularly well to operators who want to incorporate some ethnic flair onto their menus.”

One of the most well-known Jamaican dishes, which must surely contribute to the growing success of the cuisine on UK menus, is Jamaican jerk chicken.

With its origins with the Taino*, who developed the jerk method and later taught it to African slaves, who in turn adapted it in creating jerk chicken. The word jerk reportedly stems from the Spanish charqui, meaning dried strips of meat similar to the modern-day jerky.

Select pieces of chicken, normally on the bone, marinated with a fiery mixture of spices including: scotch bonnets (a very hot variety of chilli), onion, ginger, cloves, all spice and brown sugar, are flame grilled to give the chicken a crispy texture.  Jerk chicken is usually served with rice and peas or festival bread, with and extra dollop of hot sauce for those who like it extra hot!

One of the reasons jerk chicken is loved by so many is because it’s spicy and hot. The preference for capsaicin (the compound that provides the mouth-watering punch of chillies) is almost universal; nearly every culture has incorporated it into their cuisine in some way, for millennia.

In an article called ‘5 Hidden Health Benefits of Spicy Foods’ on the website, www.self.com, it says that studies show that cultures that eat the most spicy food have much lower incidence of heart attack and stroke. Potential reasons is that Chili peppers can reduce the damaging effects of LDL (bad cholesterol) and capsaicin may fight inflammation, which has been flagged as a risk factor for heart issues.

There are many different versions of the famous jerk chicken marinade, some with closely guarded ‘secret ingredients’. Chefs are being playful with spice combinations and there are plenty of signature versions on offer, like the Casual dining restaurant Breakfast Club’s limited-edition jerk chicken and waffles.

Casual dining restaurant Turtle Bay is all about celebrating the lively, colourful, soulful and, above all, delicious experiences that the Caribbean has to offer – from rich and explosive flavours to laid back dining. They offer a wide variety of dishes from Jamaica which include jerk chicken, goat curry and oxtail stew.

For customers looking to try jerk chicken, these restaurants are also worth a visit: Turtle Bay (Nationwide), Negril (Brixton Hill, London), Levi Roots Carribean Smokehouse (Westfield White City, London), Tasty Jerk (Whitehorse Lane, London) and Rudie’s (Newington Street, London).

If you are serving jerk chicken for customers to take away (or to be delivered) then you’ll need some practical packaging options. Luckily, from Bunzl Catering Supplies, there’s an abundance of choice; from plastic plates and bowls to foil containers and paperboard boxes, with and without lids.

An innovative packaging option that is ideal for serving jerk chicken is the Foodbox from our supplier RAP. Foodbox is a lightweight container with a film laminate inner that is suitable for serving hot and cold food. The box is widely recyclable, greaseproof and can be placed in the microwave – perfect if consumers want to re-heat their meal.

Another option is the Sustain bagasse hinged containers which provide a practical, sustainable answer. Part of an exclusive brand range of renewable and compostable food packaging, made from sugar cane, Sustain bagasse hinged containers are sturdy but light, and prevent the jerk chicken from being crushed on the move.

To find out more about our Jerk chicken packaging options, please contact Bunzl Catering Supplies today.

* Arawakan-speaking people who at the time of Christopher Columbus’s exploration inhabited what are now Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

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