Basic Jamaican Jerk Marinade for Fish | Seafood | Shellfish
This recipe creates a unique flavor of the Jamaican Island, in a marinade that can be used for many types of protein and also used to season other dishes.
Servings Prep Time
8people 5minute
Passive Time
Servings Prep Time
8people 5minute
Passive Time
Basic Jamaican Jerk Marinade Directions:
  1. In the pitcher of a blender or bowl of a food processor, add citrus zest and juices, garlic, green onions, chili peppers (depending on your heat level, the seeds and ribs of the chilies can be removed to drop the heat and retain the flavor of the chilies | peppers), shallot, thyme, allspice, coriander, salt, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, Witbier, honey and soy sauce | tamari | liquid aminos. Pulse the mixture a few times, breaking up the ingredients, scraping the sides down with a spatula. Then purée until mixture is smooth, creating a thick paste. Add more 1 – 2 more tablespoons of beer if the mixture is too dry and not mixing well. Taste the jerk before using, as the Scotch bonnet pepper is one of the hottest peppers (not the hottest) around and will make a spicy marinade.
  2. To use, coat your choice of fish | seafood | shellfish liberally, rubbing the marinade into each nook and cranny. As these proteins from the sea are more delicate, they only need 1 – 2 hours of contact time with the marinade for optimum flavor, without over seasoning the proteins. This marinade will last for two weeks refrigerated in a sealed container.
Cooking Instructions:
  1. Traditionally jerk was cooked over Pimento wood, imparting its unique flavor to the main course. Since this type of tree isn’t in everyone’s backyard, experiment with different woods. I like using alder, fig or pear with fish | seafood | shellfish. They offer a lighter smoke, more sweet, and delicate.
  1. Start a small amount of coals, adding some different wood chunks (or chips soaked in water or beer for 30 minutes prior to use) atop, giving different flavors to the protein. Cook the protein indirectly at first, letting the flavor of the wood envelop the fish | seafood | shellfish for 30 – 45 minutes. Finish by placing the protein over the direct heat to sear the outside and form a crust, if needed.
  1. If using a larger piece of meat, low and slow will help the cooking and infuse a lot of flavor. Use restraint when adding wood chunks, as the main flavorings should come from the jerk, not just the wood. Cook at 250°F | 121°C – 300°F | 149°C for 10 – 15 minutes, depending on the size and type of fish | seafood | shellfish being cooked.
  1. Traditionally this is the way jerk is cooked. Using several cinder blocks, create a pit 3 feet high, 3 to 4 feet wide and in length fire pit. Make your fire, using some charcoal and hard wood, covering the “pit” with either rebar or a heavy gauge wire. Cook as you would a grill, about an hour or longer for larger size meats.
  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F | 191°C – 400°F | 204°C. Place protein on top third of the oven and cook for 5 – 12 minutes to sear the fish | seafood | shellfish. Finish until desired cooking temperature and doneness is reached.
Recipe Notes

Beer Pairing Tips for Jamaican Cuisine:

With the strong and aggressive flavors from the curry and Jerk, try stronger beers that will stand up to the spices and chilies. Think IPA’s, Double Reds, American Double | Imperial IPA or even unusual Herb | Spiced Beers. These will stand up to the intensity of the food, rather than be muted by it. Hops will add a nice bitterness that isn’t found in this style of food, adding more complexity to the pairing.

Beers that pair/cook well with seafood: Witbier, Saison | Farmhouse, Specialty Ale, Citrusy IPA or Belgian Strong Pale Ale.


Other Jamaican Recipes to Compliment this Recipe:


Executive Chef: Sean Z. Paxton

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