Friday, 25 April 2008

jerk pork

Carrying on the Caribbean theme after my Bajan pikelets, here’s something straight from Jamaica: jerk!

No, I’m not shouting insults. I’m talking about Jamaica’s dry-rub spice used on chicken, goat, pork, fish . . . hell, I’m sure you could spice up anything with jerk.

From all recipes, it seems the two most important components of jerk are the allspice berry (pimento) and the scotch bonnet pepper.

The scotch bonnet, a habenero cultivar, is one of the hottest chillies in the world and ranks third after the Naga Jolokia and Red Savina Habanero. It's Scoville rating is 100,000-350,000 whereas a Cayenna is only 30,000-50,000 and the Jalapeño is a piddly 2,500-8,000. Yes, the scotch bonnet is one hot chilli!

Authentic jerk is cooked slowly on allspice wood over coals. Since it’s a little difficult to gets your hands on any allspice wood in urban Sydney, I had to forgo the allspice wood for a regular barbeque.

The word jerk originates from jerky, an anglicised version of the Spanish charqui (dried meat).

Jamaicans serve their jerk alongside foods that cool down the spices such as dumplings, rice, potatoes and beans.

The exact recipe for jerk spice varies and many Jamaicans keep their blend a closely guarded secret, but there are enough published versions to develop a spice rub to suit your own tastes.

This one I got from Lonely Planet World Food: Caribbean, but I added fresh ginger, garlic powder and orange juice.

Jerk Pork
Recipe from Lonely Planet World Food: Caribbean. Serves 6.
1 tsp allspice berries
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 dried red chilli
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup cider vinegar
Juice of 3 limes
Juice ½ orange
Scotch bonnet peppers, add one at a time to taste
6 pork chops
1. Dry fry allspice berries, cayenne powder, black peppercorns, nutmeg, cinnamon and red chilli until aromatic. Cool and grind in a spice grinder with the thyme leaves until a powder if formed.
2. In a blender, combine spice mix with all the remaining jerk spice ingredients and blend until smooth. Be sure to only add one scotch bonnet pepper at a time and taste in between because they are lethal!
3. In a non-metallic dish, place meat and cover completely with marinade. Ensure everything is coated. Cover and marinate in fridge overnight.
4. The next day, slowly cook the meat on the barbeque, basting with jerk sauce as you cook.



  1. I love anything Jerk...seafood, chicken, beef and now pork...and as the Jamaicans say..."dat be Irie mon"!

  2. That pork looks good and the spice blend sounds really tasty!

  3. Hi Anna,
    your recipe looks awesome. However I haven't been able to find Scotch Bonnet peppers at all in Sydney. Have you got any suggestions as to where I can find them, Cheers, Max

  4. I've been searching for fresh scotch bonnet chillis too. I used to be able to buy the plants at the annual chilli festival at Erina. Can anyone suggest a supplier in Sydney? thanks, FireFly


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