Eating the traditional authentic food of a country is one of the most amazing parts of traveling. Jamaica has some of the most delicious food, full of bright flavors and fresh elements, and you can enjoy the delights of tropical cuisine. The following are five dishes that you must try when visiting Jamaica.
1. Ackee and Saltfish
This Jamaican classic is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner… And everything in between. The dish is made with fresh onion, colorful sweet and scotch bonnet peppers, ripe tomatoes, garlic, scallions, and rich spices. These ingredients are sautéed together with ackee, a Jamaican fruit which is prepared like a vegetable, and then the saltfish is added.
Saltfish is a dried, salted fish that is soaked in water before it is cooked. The dish has the appearance and texture of scrambled eggs, although the flavor is a bit salty, spicy and of course delicious!
2. Jerk Chicken or Pork
Jerking is a traditional Jamaican technique of spicing and slow cooking meat to preserve the juices and create the characteristic, spicy flavor. The seasoning used typically contains scotch bonnet peppers, onions, allspice, garlic, thyme, ginger, and cinnamon, which is rubbed inside and outside the meat.
The meat is then slowly cooked over an outdoor pit which is lined with pimento wood. Jerked meats are known for being packed full of flavorful juices, and is crunchy on the outside, while soft and tender on the inside. Ever-present throughout Jamaica, you can enjoy this delicious delicacy at roadside shacks or fancy restaurants.
3. Mannish Water (Goat Soup)
It may seem strange to think of traveling all the way to the Caribbean to eat soup in the hot tropical climate, but Jamaica is known for its vast repertoire of soups. One of the best soups in Jamaica is Mannish Water, which is goat soup made from various goat parts. The pieces of goat are seasoned with herbs and spices and cooked in a pot with vegetables and ‘food’ – yam, bananas, potato, and dumplings. One of our personal favorites!
4. Jamaican Patty
The famous Jamaican patty has so much excitement surrounding it, and it is easy to see why. It is a flaky pastry similar to a meat pie, filled with different vegetables and meats, including beef, chicken, lobster, and shrimp, and is the perfect combination of crunch, seasoning, and spice.
Jamaican patties are full of flavor, and you can be sure that you will most likely try more than one of these on your trip to the Caribbean. Though there’s much debate about which company makes the best patties, my personal favorite is Tastees! The company has been around for many years and have perfected what the ideal patty should taste like.
Again many may debate me on that. Other businesses that make patties loved by Jamaicans include Jucci Beef and Mother’s. Grab one from each of the fast food joints and be the judge yourself.
This dish truly tells the story of the Jamaican culture. Created by fusing Caribbean history and cuisine, this one pot meal includes fish, typically salted mackerel, and vegetables, such as yam, pumpkin, tomatoes, and onions, and is cooked in coconut milk until the fish is ‘run down,’ which means that it breaks into pieces. This delicious dish is full of flavor and will take you on a Jamaican journey in one bowl.
Jamaican cuisine is soaked in different spices and aromatic flavors that are incredibly indicative of its Caribbean heritage.
With a diverse variety of fruits, spices, meats, and other excellent ingredients, your taste buds are in for a real treat when eating authentic Jamaican food.