Every Caribbean country has a staple seafood dish – and it’s no different in Jamaica. Here, you can expect to see salt fish (AKA cod) plastered all over restaurant menus. Wondering why it’s called salt fish? Well, up until the 19th century, salting was the only widely available method to preserve freshly-netted fish, and it’s an age-old tradition that’s still put into practise today. This tasty meal is made up of sautéed cod, boiled ackee, scotch bonnet peppers, and freshly-picked tomatoes. Then, it’s seasoned with sizzling spices, like black pepper and pimento. This spicy dish is usually eaten at breakfast as it’s really filling – which is ideal for fuelling you up for days out exploring the sights, like Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios.
Goat curry is a staple dish you’ll get to sample when visiting Jamaica. Normally, this mouth-watering dish is served with rice, fried plantain, and potatoes. And because the tasty goat is slow cooked over a couple of hours, it tastes really tender. And because this dish is milder in terms of its spiciness, it’s usually whipped up in big batches and eaten at parties and celebrations – so it appeals to the fussiest of eaters.
If there’s one thing you absolutely have to try in Jamaica, it’s fried plantain. This sweet-tasting dish is made from ripe plantain - a type of banana - which are drizzled in oil and a pinch of salt, before being fried until they’re crispy and golden brown in colour. Fried plantain is usually eaten as a snack or for dessert – you may even find it being served alongside main meals, like salt fish and goat curry.
Jamaican jerk chicken (serves four)
4 chicken thighs, with the bone inside and skin left on
2 tbsp groundnut oil
4cm pieces of fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 scotch bonnets, seeds removed
1 bunch spring onions, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp honey Salt and ground black pepper, to season
Rice and peas
2 tbsp groundnut oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can coconut milk
1 can water
2 thyme sprigs
1 tsp fine salt
280g basmati rice
Start preparing the jerk marinade by blending all of the ingredients together. Then, cut the underside of each chicken thigh down to the bone, before placing into a large bowl. Next, pour the jerk marinade over the chicken, massaging each thigh until they’re completely covered in the sauce. Leave overnight to marinate.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/gas 6. Place the chicken thighs in a non-stick baking tray and cook for 45 minutes until golden brown in colour. Then, grill the chicken on a high heat for an additional five minutes, to ensure that the skin is crispy.
While the chicken is cooking, you can prepare the rice and peas. Start by heating the groundnut oil in a saucepan, before adding in the chopped onions, cooking them until they are soft and translucent.
Add all of the remaining ingredients into the saucepan except for the rice and bring to the boil.
Using a colander, rinse the rice thoroughly with water, and then add it into the saucepan. Turn the heat down and simmer gently, with the lid left on for 15 minutes, before serving with the chicken thighs.
You’ll be close to Dunn's River Falls when you stay at the Riu Ocho Rios in Jamaica.
The adults-focussed Riu Reggae comes with a beachfront location and boats swim-up bars.
Three outdoor pools, à la carte dining, and free Wi-Fi are just a few things you can expect at the Riu Negril.
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