Jerk anything has always terrified me. One super spicy jerk chicken wing ruined it all for me years ago. One bite in and it made me cry. Not the one significant tear falling meaningfully from the corner of my eye kinda cry, but a full on Jesus be a fence and some Visine kinda bawl. I’ve said this before and I’m standing by it. I don’t like it when my food hurts me. Only after I realized that all jerk seasonings are not created equally was I brave enough to dip my toe back into the deep end of the spice pool.
What is Jerk?
Jerk seasoning is a Jamaican spice blend known for its surface of the sun heat. It’s hot, y’all. As with many spice blends, the exact mix of herbs and spices varies depending on where you are or whose kitchen you’re in. Jerk seasoning typically includes allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers with other ingredients like cinnamon, scallions, dried thyme, brown sugar, ginger, cayenne, nutmeg and cloves mixed in to taste. If you have a well-stocked spice rack, you can mix your own jerk seasoning but I lovelovelove the bold flavor and subtle heat in McCormick’s Perfect Pinch Caribbean Jerk Seasoning.
Jerk Shrimp with Coconut Rice & Pomegranate
Serving spicy foods, like jerk shrimp, with something mild is a great way to temper the spice. Spicy Indian curries are garnished with yogurt sauces to cool down your tastebuds and this creamy, rice simmered in coconut milk with a hint of lime is the perfect counterpoint to the jerk spice. Pomegranate arils, stirred in at the end, add a dash of tartness and crunch. Together, the jerk shrimp, coconut milk and pomegranate create a perfect storm of deliciousness on your plate. (Watch my video on How to Cut a Pomegranate to learn how easy it is to get those arils out of the shell.)
Jerk seasoning can pack a spicy punch, depending on the blend. Add more or less to suit your tastes.
Make sure your pan is nice and hot when you add the jerk shrimp. The goal is to saute them – little oil, high heat – so they cook quickly with a little color.
Be sure to use coconut milk, not Cream of Coco. Cream of Coco has added sugar.