So you’ve reached Jamaica. But what do you do now? Where do you head first? Before jumping to see the most interesting attractions around, let’s have a look at the Jamaican food dishes you need to try while you’re here.
Jamaican Food Dishes You Can’t Miss
1. Jerk Chicken
You can find jerk chicken abundantly all over the island. There are countless stands placed on the street, so you can easily taste it when you’re hungry. This recipe is special because the meat is dry-rubbed with Jamaican jerk spice. It has a fiery flavor given by Scotch bonnet peppers and allspice. You can also find jerk pork if you’re not a fan of chicken.
2. Rice and Peas
It may not sound like much, but one of the most popular dishes in Jamaican food is rice and peas. You can find it in every Jamaican home, every Sunday. Kidney beans are also sometimes used in this dish. People here add fresh coconut milk, scallion, and thyme. If you’re into spicy food, you can have it with a scotch bonnet pepper placed on top. Add meat and vegetables and you’re set.
Another great Jamaican dish you can’t miss while you’re visiting is callaloo. This dish with a weird name is a mineral-rich one that’s made by steaming a leaf vegetable, usually amaranth. Then, the cook adds garlic, onion, tomato, and thyme. In fact, callaloo is the Jamaican spinach or kale, if you want. Instead of amaranth, it can also be made with Swiss chard, if you plan on replicating the dish at home.
4. Escoveitched Fish
If you’re a seafood lover, you’ll surely enjoy this great Jamaican dish. It’s a simple fish species that gets seasoned with salt and pepper. Then, they fry it until it reaches a golden-brown shade. But the most interesting part just begins: they decorate the fish with fresh orange carrots, scotch bonnet peppers marinated in a vinaigrette, as well as onion rings. The result is a delicious, tangy and spicy. It’s a popular treat that comes in handy when you want to quit meat for a while.
5. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
You may be wondering what is coffee doing on this list, but the truth is we couldn’t skip it. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is one of the rarest and most expensive coffee in the world. It is grown in the Jamaican mountains, where it enjoys a misty and cool climate. However, the space is quite limited, which accounts for the steep price. It has a full body, with a smooth texture and a lot less bitter than you’re used to. Do give it a chance while you’re in Jamaica!
People say that when you eat a festival, there’s an entire festival going on in your mouth! Even though the name may sound strange (again), you should try it at least once. It’s a sort of fried dumpling, famous for its golden color. It has the shape of a sausage and it’s slightly crispy. You will taste the flavorful cornmeal and flour dough.
7. Coconut Drops
These are sweet, traditional snacks that have a delicious taste. Coconut drops are, in fact, small chunks of the fleshy part of a coconut. They are sprinkled with sugar and eaten together with ginger. You can taste it together with the afternoon tea. People usually boil the coconut in water with brown sugar and left it to cool when it’s done.
8. Jamaican Patty
Yet another one of the most popular Jamaican food dishes you need to try is the Jamaican patty. You can find them everywhere and they’re really tasty. Moreover, there are even two fast-food chains dedicated to this dish: Tastee Patties and Juici Patties. If you’re a vegetarian, don’t worry, you can find such varieties as well.
9. Solomon Grundy
This is an appetizer made of pickled fish pate. It’s usually served with crackers and people add salt and vinegar to it. Be careful, since it’s very moreish, so you might want to stop after a couple of crackers if you want to have some room for dessert as well.
Bammy is the name of a simple, yet tasty flatbread. It’s made of cassava (yuca) and you’ll probably crave it when you get back home. The cassava is soaked in coconut milk and then fried, which is why it has such a delicious taste. At the same time, this is the reason for which you shouldn’t abuse it if you care about your waistline.
11. Flying Fish
Though it sounds weird and it looks funny, flying fish is a national dish in Jamaica. You can eat it with cou-cou, which resembles polenta, or with other accompaniments. The fish has a unique look with its wings and most of the time it’s steamed or stewed. People add plenty of herbs and seasonings, such as thyme, onions, and tomato.
12. Jamaican Porridge
The typical Jamaican porridge is, in fact, a mixture of coconut milk, cornmeal, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg. Jamaicans usually eat it warm for breakfast on the beautiful island. You can find it sold on the streets, especially in the morning. Even Bob Marley talks about it in his famous song No Woman, No Cry.
13. Ackee and Saltfish
This is one of the most unusual Jamaican food dishes you’ll try here. It’s a breakfast dish and it’s made of ackee (a local fruit) and codfish. They are sautéed together and then seasoned with tomatoes, allspice, Scotch Bonnet peppers, and onions. It’s an interesting mix of salty and sweet, which might strike you as odd at first, but you’ll learn to like it.
The last on our list is gizzada, a unique dessert that is also called pinch-me-round. The name comes from its crunchy, pinched crust. In it, you will find a sweet coconut center, complete with ginger and nutmeg. It’s filled with flavor, even though it’s not that big.
To sum it up, these are the main Jamaican food dishes you need to try while you’re in this beautiful country. Even if you’re not going to like them all, you should at least taste a little bit and indulge in the exotic flavors.
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