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Jerk Fish – for Jamaican week!

January 15, 2023  Chef Austin Avatar
Jerk Fish – for Jamaican week!

Freshly cooked Jamaican Jerk Fish

Welcome to Jamaican week!🏝 Kicking off our Caribbean feast with Jerk Fish – pan-fried fish coated with Jamaican jerk seasoning that adds a stack of flavour and makes it crispy. Thin white fish fillets cook in 3 minutes which makes Jerk Fish a super fast dinner!

Freshly cooked Jamaican Jerk Fish
This Jerk Fish catapulted straight into my all-time top 3 fish recipes. I can’t stop making it!

Every now and then, I like to do a week of recipes for a themed menu. This week, it’s Jamaican week so you can make your very own Caribbean feast at home! Who’s in the mood for some tropical vibes??

Kicking off Jamaican week with the main – Jerk Fish!

Why you need Jerk Fish in your life

🌴 It’s Jamaican – so it’s cool. (Just ask Dozer, below).
🌴 Big, bold, Caribbean flavours using everyday spices: garlic, onion, thyme, paprika, all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne.
🌴 It’s fine if you’re missing one or two spices cause there’s so many spices in it anyway.
🌴 Takes 3 minutes on the stove.

Don’t have fish? Use the jerk seasoning on chicken, shrimp/prawns or vegetables. Tips in the recipe.

Jamaican Jerk Fish on a plate with Jamaican Slaw and Coconut Rice & Beans
A plate of Jamaican delicious….. Caribbean coconut rice and beans plus Jamaican Slaw recipes coming this week!

Close up showing the inside of Jamaican Jerk Fish
Flavour loaded crispy crust on juicy white fish is a match made in heaven….

What goes in jerk seasoning

Here are the spices you need for jerk seasoning. The perfect blend of savoury flavour, a hint of spiciness with the signature touch of sweetness. The smell when it hits the pan is intoxicating!

Jerk seasoning ingredients

There’s so many spices in Jerk seasoning, if you’re missing one (or two…) it’s not the end of the world, you’ll still end up with a terrific Jamaican-(ish) spice blend. Here are substitution suggestions:

  • Garlic powder – more onion powder, and vice versa

  • Dried thyme – oregano

  • Brown sugar – 2 tsp caster sugar / superfine sugar

  • Cayenne pepper – Pure ground chilli, red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper or omit if you want not spicy

  • Smoked paprika – ordinary paprika

  • Allspice powder – Mixed spice

  • Cinnamon powder – Try not to leave this out! It adds an irreplaceable special touch.

  • Nutmeg powder – More cinnamon

Seasoning Jamaican Jerk Fish
Thin fish fillets = more surface area = more Jerk Seasoning = 🙌🏻

Fish for jerk fish

The fish pictured throughout this post is snapper, pictured below, but jerk seasoning will work with any type of fish fillet that’s suitable for pan frying as long as it is a thin fillet no thicker than 1.5 cm / 0/6″ at the thickest point. It needs to be thin so it cooks through within 3 – 4 minutes else the jerk seasoning will burn.

Raw snapper fillets
Use ANY thin fish fillets you want. It just has to be thin!

Snapper is a very popular fish here in Australia, beloved for the mild, sweet, delicate flavour, which is not “fishy” at all. The flesh is moderately firm and moist, and fillets are easy to cook evenly because they are flat with an even thickness (as opposed to, say, salmon, when some fillets have a very thick “hump” (the loin) though you can find thin salmon fillets (the tail end).

Don’t have fish? You can the jerk seasoning on chicken, shrimp/prawns or vegetables. Tips in the recipe.


How to make jerk fish

In a nutshell: coat fish in the jerk seasoning then pan fry for 2 minutes on the first side and 1 minute on the second side. That’s a 3 minute dinner – we need more of these in our life!!!

How to make jerk fish
  1. Jerk seasoning – Mix the jerk seasoning spices in a bowl.

  2. Coat – Spread the jerk seasoning in a tray or plate just large enough to fit the fish fillets. Then coat each piece of fish with the seasoning, pressing to adhere. Shake off excess and put on a plate. Repeat with remaining fish.

  3. Pan fry 3 minutes – Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat. As soon as you see the first small wisps of smoke, place 2 fillets in the pan presentation side down. Cook for 2 minutes on the first side until the surface is a deep bronze colour with a reddish tinge (don’t let it burn!), carefully flip then cook the other side for 1 minute.

CHEFFY TIP: How to flip fish properly

Fish is delicate so you have to flip carefully. I used to use a spatula plus a butter knife or my free hand to control the flip so the fish wouldn’t break.

Forget that! Here’s how chefs do it:

  1. Tilt the pan slightly so the oil pools on one side and won’t splatter on you.

  2. Flip the fish with a spatula “uphill” so you have the help of gravity slowing down the flip so the delicate fish will not break.

GAME-CHANGER! (See video at 33 seconds for a demo)

  1. Rest 2 minutes – Transfer the fish to a rack and rest for 2 minutes. It’s best to use a rack to preserve the crispiness of the jerk-crust. If you use a plate, the underside will sweat and compromise the crispiness. Not the end of the world… but a rack is better!

Once rested, transfer the fish to a plate and serve!

Jamaican Jerk Fish on a plate with Jamaican Slaw and Coconut Rice & Beans
That plate of down0-home Jamaican goodness was my lunch. And I was very, very happy about it!

I shouldn’t confess this… but those “cocktails” are totally fake. Just OJ + water!!!

Jamaican week sides for Jerk fish!

Your sides to serve with jerk fish are coming on Tuesday! There’s a Jamaican Slaw (shockingly delicious) and Jamaican Coconut Rice and Beans. Plus, a surprise dessert!

This is a spread of seriously good food. I hope you enjoy Jamaican week as much as I have creating the recipes!!! – Nagi x


Watch how to make it

Freshly cooked Jamaican Jerk Fish

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Jamaican Jerk Fish

Recipe video above. Jerk seasoning adds a stack of flavour and makes the surface crispy too. Quick way to make a dish that punches way above its weight for effort vs results. I’ve used it for white fish fillets here but it will be excellent with salmon, prawns/shrimp, chicken or turkey.

Jamaican menu week! Sides and dessert coming soon…. stay tuned!

Course Mains
Cuisine Caribbean, Jamaican
Keyword jerk fish, jerk seasoning
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Resting fish 2 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 249cal
Author Nagi

Ingredients

Jerk seasoning (Note 1):

  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tsp cooking salt
  • 3 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 tsp brown sugar , lightly packed (Note 2)
  • 2 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (sub ordinary paprika)
  • 1 tsp allspice powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder

Fish:

  • 4 x 160g/6 oz thin snapper or other white fish fillets , skinless, boneless (up to 1.5cm / 0.6″ thick, Note 3)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • Jerk Spice Blend – Mix the Jerk Seasoning spices together in a bowl then spread in a small tray that is just large enough to fit one fish fillet.
  • Coat fish – Pat fish dry with a paper towel. Then coat both sides of each fillet with the jerk seasoning, pressing to adhere. Shake off excess, place on a clean plate and coat remaining fish.
  • Cook fish – Heat half the oil in a large non-stick pan over high heat. When you see small wisps of smoke, place 2 fillets presentation side down and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Flip – the spice crust should be a deep bronze colour with a reddish tinge. Cook the other side for 1 minute until the target internal temperature is 55°C/130°F, or the fish flakes easily at the thickest point.
  • Rest on a rack for 2 minutes (to preserve crispy spice crust). Then serve! Recipes for pictured Jamaican sides coming on Tuesday – stay tuned!

Notes

SPICE LEVEL: Warm buzz but not blow-your-head-off. If you don’t like spicy food just omit or reduce the cayenne pepper.

1. Spices – There’s so many spices in Jerk seasoning, if you’re missing one (or two…) it’s not the end of the world, you’ll still end up with a terrific Jamaican spice blend! Here are substitution suggestions:

  • Garlic powder – more onion powder, and vice versa
  • Dried thyme – oregano
  • Brown sugar – 2 tsp caster sugar / superfine sugar
  • Cayenne pepper – Pure ground chilli, red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper or omit if you want not spicy
  • Smoked paprika – ordinary paprika
  • Allspice powder – Mixed spice
  • Cinnamon powder – Try not to leave this out! It adds an irreplaceable special touch.
  • Nutmeg powder – More cinnamon

Salt note: 3 tsp may sound like a lot but because we are using thin pieces of fish, there is a lot of surface area to cover. We tried this recipe with varying salt levels, and this is the right amount using cooking salt / kosher salt. If using table salt, decrease to 2 tsp. 

2. Brown sugar – just scoop then level the teaspoon measure. Don’t pack the brown sugar in tightly before levelling.

3. Fish – This seasoning will be terrific with any fish fillet suitable for pan frying. The only trick here is to use thin fillets up to 1.5cm / 0.6″ at the thickest point so it will cook through in 3 minutes per recipe, before the jerk seasoning turns too dark. Remember – as soon as fish hits the hot pan, it will contract and will increase to around 2cm / 0.8″ thick.

4. Other proteins: Thin chicken breast, thighs or pork steaks (either pound or cut in half horizontally), shrimp/prawns. Toss in seasoning then pan fry.

Vegetables: Par-cook the vegetables on the stove or BBQ then add the seasoning towards the end, else it may burn before you finish cooking the vegetables. Try thick slices of large mushrooms or eggplant steaks for a “meaty” meal. Alternatively, toss vegetables in olive oil + the seasoning then roast using using directions in these recipes (skip the seasonings/flavour, just use cutting, prep, bake temp + time) – broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, eggplantRoasted VegetablesGarlic Roasted Mushrooms, roast potatoes.

5. Leftovers will keep for 2 days in the fridge. Not suitable for freezing.

6. Nutrition per fish assuming 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 teaspoons salt is consumed across all 4 fillets. See also Note 1 for salt note.

Nutrition

Calories: 249cal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 1251mg | Potassium: 574mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 796IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 2mg

Life of Dozer

Jamaican Dozer. Ya mon!

PS It’s totally photoshopped. Just couldn’t find a Jamaican dog costume, strangely. 😂

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