There’s a lot of soul food in the Caribbean, but Jamaica has its own particular culinary traditions that are worth exploring. The island is home to a large Afro-Caribbean community, and it’s these unique roots that have given Jamaican cuisine its unique stamp.
Jerk chicken is a staple of Jamaican cooking, and for good reason. The intense, smoky flavor of the spice paste is a great way to add depth to grilled chicken. Pair it with roasted sweet potatoes or white rice for an authentic meal. If you’re a vegetarian, try switching out the chicken for goat or beef — the spice paste is the same, so the meat is just served up with a different side. If you’re visiting Jamaica during August, don’t miss the annual Jerk Chicken Festival in Falmouth, the country’s second-largest city. The festival includes competitions, lectures, and plenty of the best jerk chicken you’ll find.
Oxtail stew is a dish that’s both hearty and filling. As the name suggests, the stew is made with the tail end of the oxtail—a type of extra-meaty cut that’s hard to find outside of Jamaica. Oxtail stew is typically served with white rice, but some restaurants offer black beans or plantains as an option.
Oxtail stew is a great example of Jamaican comfort food, with a rich and comforting stew that’s easy to prepare. If you love the taste of oxtail but aren’t a fan of the chewy and stringy texture, try oxtail stew as a healthier option.
Rice and peas
Rice and peas is a popular Jamaican side that’s easy to make at home. Rice and peas are a classic Jamaican dish, and they use the country’s love of peas as the main ingredient. Usually, the peas are served alongside the rice, but some restaurants offer peas as a topping for a sandwich with meat or fish.
The two main types of rice are jasmine and long grain, but the long grain is typically used for rice and peas. To make the rice and peas recipe, you’ll need to use a pot with a tight-fitting lid. It’s crucial that the pot is tightly sealed to prevent the rice from absorbing too much liquid and becoming mushy.
Crab Cake Sandwich
Crab cakes are a staple of Jamaican cuisine, and the state even has a designated crab cake Day. The recipe for Jamaican crab cakes is the same as many other versions of the dish, with the main difference being the use of jalapenos instead of bell peppers.
The scotch bonnet pepper is another key ingredient in the recipe. Crab cakes are easy to make at home, and they’re a great option if you’re looking for a seafood-based dinner that doesn’t involve seafood. They’re also a great option if you have people who aren’t seafood fans at your party.
Beef Patty on a Bun
Beef patty on a bun is a Jamaican take on a classic American sandwich. The typical beef patty recipe uses a lean cut of grass-fed beef, but you can use any kind of ground beef. You can serve the beef patty on a bun with a variety of toppings, but the bun is usually toasted and served open-face. You can add ketchup, mayo, mustard, pickles, relish, or any other condiment that you like.
Sweet Potato Pie
Sweet potato pie is one of the most popular Jamaican dishes, and it’s easy to make at home. Sweet potato pie is typically made with a sweet potato as the main ingredient, but you can also use yam or turnip in a pinch. Sweet potato pie can be served warm or cold, and you can also serve it with different toppings or as a dessert. Many sweet potato pie recipes call for almond extract, but you don’t need it since the pie already has a strong orange flavor from the sweet potato.
Red Lettuce Wraps with Chicken or Shrimp
Red lettuce wraps are typically served with chicken or shrimp as the protein. You can also add your own protein like pork or tofu to make it a complete meal. Red lettuce is the most common type of lettuce in the Caribbean, and it has a mild flavor that mixes well with other ingredients. It’s important that the lettuce you use is not too wilted.
Bread is a staple in Jamaican cuisine, and you can find it in the form of plain loaves, as well as in the form of buns and pizza. Bread is typically served as a snack or a light meal in addition to being used to scoop up all the delicious Jamaican-inspired recipes. If you’re looking for a snack that’s loaded with nutrients, look no further than the Jamaican favorite, Jamaican pone.
Jamaica is the perfect place for a culinary adventure. With so many unique and diverse cultures, the island is a veritable melting pot of culinary traditions from around the world. From the many African influences in the spice paste of jerk chicken and oxtail stew to the Spanish and Chinese influences in the sweet potato pie, Jamaican cuisine is a rich mix of many cultures’ flavors. Whether you want to take a culinary tour of the island or explore Jamaican food at home, the island is sure to offer something new and exciting for your palate.