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!
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.
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!
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
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.
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!!!
Jerk seasoning – Mix the jerk seasoning spices in a bowl.
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.
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:
Tilt the pan slightly so the oil pools on one side and won’t splatter on you.
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)
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 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
Jamaican Jerk Fish
Jamaican menu week! Sides and dessert coming soon…. stay tuned!
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
- 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
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!
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, eggplant, Roasted Vegetables, Garlic 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.
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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