Ackee and saltfish? Jerk chicken?
I was very excited about these Jamaican dishes. I had no idea what ackee was, and did not know what spices are in the jerk seasoning. Aside from all kinds of drinks with Jamaican rum, I set it as my mission to find soursop juice. Another ingredient I did not know.
The common carbs on a plate is of course rice and peas ─ rice and usually kidney beans cooked with coconut milk. We were at a supermarket in Negril. Those kidney beans looking beans were labeled as “red peas.”
During our five-day trip, I tried jerk chicken from five different places and jerk pork from two. Jerk seasoning is the
Jamaican style barbecue rub. Some are spicier than others. You can find jerk pork, jerk conch and other grilled meat with jerk seasoning, but jerk chicken is the most popular. Be sure you look for street food stands with a grill made out of an oil barrel. Highly likely that’s where you would find the best jerk chicken of your trip.
If you happen to stay in Grand Palladium resort, the jerk chicken that comes with paella from the Jerk Hut at Sunset Cove is probably the best you would get in the resort. Check their hours so that you don’t miss it. The jerk chicken at the second floor restaurant Xaymaica was good. Don’t get it from the Poseidon restaurant at Sunset Cove! (In fact, don’t eat there…) If you try jerk chicken from the buffet, chances are what you have does not do this famous dish justice.
The best jerk chicken we had was from a stand at a parking lot across the street from Rick’s Cafe. Our tour guide said this guy
won a national “jerk off” jerk chicken contest before.
We got an order of jerk chicken for six dollars. Aaron said it was the best six dollars we spent over there. It was so good that I forgot to take a picture. The chicken was so tender, moist and well-seasoned. Nothing beats grilling over charcoal. That smoky taste made the chicken so much better. All the jerk chicken we tried in our resort could not compare. His jerk seasoning is better than all other ones that I tried.
The flavor was one of the biggest differences from this street food jerk chicken and what we had at the hotel. The jerk spice blended together very well. Normally if you let a sauce or marinade sit overnight or longer, the flavors come together. The sauce of the jerk chicken that we had at the Poseidon restaurant of the resort tasted like they just whipped everything together and brushed it on the chicken.
Curry goat is another must-eat. I only got to try it once though, at the Xaymaica restaurant of the Grand Palladium resort. I thought goat would be tough, but surprisingly it was more tender than I expected. I was happy with what I got.
The national dish of Jamaica is ackee and saltfish. Ackee is a local fruit that kind of looks like scrambled eggs in this dish. I again only tried it once at the same restaurant. I was not impressed. The saltfish, supposedly dried codfish, was very very dried. I
was convinced that the hotel cooking did not do this national dish justice.
From my search prior to the trip, I read about this soursop drink but never saw it in the resort. I asked our super nice waiter at the Xaymaica restaurant. He said he was in fact going back home that weekend and would be picking soursop and making soursop juice with his family. That confirmed my mission searching for soursop was not crazy and made me want to try it even more.
When I saw soursop juice in a bottle at the supermarket we stopped in at Negril, I was so excited! I did not quite know what to
expect. This is what I read online: “It tastes like a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with a hint of creaminess and sour citrus.” That really does not help. And the store bought juice did not taste like what this description said either. The drink I bought was sweet and a bit thick. If you have ever tried the Japanese uncarbonated soft drink, Calpis, then you would have an idea. Calpis was what the store bought soursop drink tasted like. The consistency was in between Calpis and Asian yogurt drink.
Red Stripe is the most common beer in Jamaica. Many people buy Blue Mountain coffee or Appleton Estate rum as souvenirs. I personally did not like the almost whiskey taste of Jamaican rum. A friend of mine who used to work at this coffee shop for coffee connoisseurs said the Blue Mountain coffee that I bought from the resort was very good.