It’s odd that jerk is not more common among non-Caribbeans. Perhaps we don’t embrace jerk because we associate it with ‘barbecue’ food or because we think it’s hot!
It’s true that the barbecue brings out the best in jerk. And with so few good barbecue days in the UK, we might be forgiven for overlooking jerk in favour of the usual or ‘standard’ barbecue sauces. Still, we don’t need a barbecue to jerk – it cooks just as well in the oven.
And yes, jerk can be hot. It’s not surprising – a key ingredient is the Scotch bonnet chilli. On the Scoville heat scale the Scotch bonnet scores highly – up there with the habanero and bird’s eye chillies. However, in the chilli world of relativity, the Scotch bonnet is feeble, the appropriately named Carolina reaper or Trinidad scorpion are ten times hotter!
Whatever your views about jerk – it’s still one of the best marinades for grilling meat…
As I was passing ‘Jerk World’ in Leather Lane, London, I decided I’d go in to do some research on making jerk. I ordered some chicken with rice and peas. It was served with a delicious thick ‘jerk’ sauce.
‘So, how do you make your sauce,’ I asked innocently. Sharp intakes of breath by all around.
‘What? He wants to know how we make our sauce? Impossible man… (ha ha ha…) it’s a trade secret man… (ha ha ha)’
I made my exit – the shop assistants still laughing in the distance.
Jerk: another sauce I’ll have to workout for myself…