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Best Jamaican Food
10 Dishes You Must Try On Your Next Visit

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Best Jamaican FoodBest Jamaican Food

by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

Have you ever been to Jamaica? What was your reason for visiting? I am sure whatever your answer is, the great food was definitely a plus. And if you live here in Jamaica, I am quite certain that one of your favourite thing about this beautiful island is all the delicious dishes.


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Now there are some popular dishes on the island that are not truly Jamaican at their roots. Curried shrimp sweet and sour chicken and peppered steak are three lovely dishes that fall into this category.

So I am sharing with you the top ten, in my expert opinion, Jamaican dishes that every visitor to the island must absolutely try at least once. And if you are a Jamaican or you live in Jamaica and haven’t tried these as yet, just know that that is grounds for having your Jamaican card revoked.

1. Jerk Chicken/Pork

Pan Style Jerk Chicken VendorPan Style Jerk Chicken Vendor

A spicy spice blend known as Jamaican jerk spice is used to dry-rub meats (often pork, poultry, and fish) in the cooking method known as Jamaican Jerk, which is well-known throughout the world.

According to legend, it tastes best when grilled over fragrant wood charcoal or briquettes. The real flavour of jerk comes from the Pimento (allspice) wood or berries roasted over flames. Since Jamaican "jerk" is the only current barbecuing technique that, in its most basic form, most closely resembles historical descriptions of the early inhabitants' manner, it is a good fit with our Caribbean heritage.

In modern times, a grill over an open fire will do. Meat roasted in a regular oven gets a passable jerk flavour from the readily available pre-made seasoning mixes.

Jerk Chicken and pork are the most popular options and can be found on most restaurants' menus or sold by street vendors.

2. Ackee & Saltfish

Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish (With Roasted Breadfruit In The Background)Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish (With Roasted Breadfruit In The Background)

This is the national dish of Jamaica. Ackee, the fruit, can be found widely across the is; and, even thou it is very seasonal. However, for those not living on the island, canned ackee might be the best option. Saltfish or salted cod fish can be found in any supermarket and a small portion can go a long way.

The dish is prepared by stir-frying saltfish with diced tomatoes, onion, escallion, thyme, garlic, scotch bonnet pepper and boiled ackee. Serve it up for breakfast with fried dumplings, boiled bananas or fried or roasted breadfruit. Or have it for dinner with rice and peas and a side of vegetables.

3. Curried Goat

Best Jamaican Food | Curried GoatBest Jamaican Food | Curried Goat

Now this is one of my all-time favourites. Down to the bone. One of Jamaicans' all-time favourite foods is curry goat. It's popular at special events, Sunday dinner settings, and lunch menus at restaurants.

Whether Jamaicans are celebrating a wedding, a birthday, Christmas, or most importantly, an exciting family reunion, curry goat frequently appears on the menu. Plan ahead, because this dish may take you a couple of hours to prepare.

4. Oxtail

Best Jamaican Food | OxtailBest Jamaican Food | Oxtail

This is quite possibly the most expensive traditional Jamaican dish. It is most definitely not your everyday meal and is mostly prepared on special occasions. Oxtail stew prepared in the style of Jamaica flavoured with scotch bonnet pepper, browning sauce, pimento (allspice), ginger, and thyme.

Before cooking, the oxtail is first seared on all sides. Two techniques are used in Jamaica to intensify the oxtail's dark colour; either brown sugar is melted in a saucepan before the oxtail is added, or the oxtail is coated with brown sauce before cooking.

Rice and peas with a side of vegetables and fried ripe plantains is the most popular way to have this dish.

Here are two recipes, the traditional or the instant pot.

5. Escoveitch Fish

Best Jamaican Food | Escovietched FishBest Jamaican Food | Escoveitched Fish

If you are a fish lover Escoveitch fish should be one of your first choices whenever visit Jamaica. If you don't like spicy food, you might choose to just order the fish without the escovitch sauce before ordering that dish.

Escoveitch fish is only good with the escoveitch sauce; without it, it is just fried fish. The more time the sauce sits, the more strong the flavours of the onions, vinegar, carrots, pimento seeds, and the main attraction, peppers, become.

6. Stew Peas

Best Jamaican Food | Stew PeasBest Jamaican Food | Stew Peas

Jamaican stew peas is a dish you have to try if you're seeking a filling, cosy, warm, and tasty supper to lift your spirits. Red peas (kidney beans), a variety of meats, and occasionally as many as five different types of meat are used to make stew peas.

Salted pigtail, salted or fresh beef, turkey neck, chicken neck, chicken foot, and chicken back are a few of the often utilized meats. In addition to coconut milk and fresh herbs and spices such as onion, garlic, pimento (allspice), ginger, scotch bonnet pepper, escallion, and thyme, Jamaican stew peas must also have these ingredients.

7. Rice and Peas

Best Jamaican Food | Rice and PeasBest Jamaican Food | Rice and Peas

Jamaican rice and peas is just rice and peas cooked or served together, as the name suggests. Everyone, though, adds their own unique spin on it.

To "make it their own," people "make it their own" by using slightly different types of seasonings, other ingredients, and spice proportions when preparing their rice and peas. Coconut milk, however, is the core (essential component) of every Jamaican rice and peas dish!

The seasonings are added after the peas have been soaked the night before and cooked slowly until they are soft. Scallion, thyme, garlic, salt, and scotch bonnet pepper are the basic ingredients. The coconut milk is next added, and the mixture is left to simmer for a while so that the flavours can combine to create a mouthwatering scent.

8. Mackerel Run Down

Best Jamaican Food | Mackerel Run DownBest Jamaican Food | Mackerel Run Down

A fish stew that has been prepared with coconut milk, tomato, onions, garlic, and other seasonings and has an outstanding flavour.

Traditionally, fresh coconut cream is used to make this, but nowadays, most people use canned coconut milk out of convenience and time constraints. Rundown is typically served with boiling green bananas and dumplings as a side dish.

9. Soup

Best Jamaican Food | Pepperpot SoupBest Jamaican Food | Pepperpot Soup

The name alone gives you a good idea of what to anticipate. Plenty of pepper. It is traditionally a vegetarian dish prepared mostly with callaloo, yet adding some salted pigtail or beef only enhances the flavour if you are a meat enthusiast like many people.

Even though you can adjust the amount of pepper you add to the dish and it will still be tasty, this is one of those dishes that doesn't have to be spicy. However, in true Jamaican fashion, it is typically made with a significant amount of scotch bonnet pepper because everything tastes better with a little more heat.

10. Saltfish Fritters

Best Jamaican Food | Saltfish FrittersBest Jamaican Food | Saltfish Fritters

This is a typical Jamaican breakfast food and appetizer too. The saltfish is soaked in water to get rid of some of the salt then it is “picked up” and mixed with flour. Some people also add black pepper, scallion, tomatoes, onion and even scotch bonnet pepper. It is then fried in small portions until crispy and golden brown.

So there you have it, the top ten dishes that you absolutely must try. If 10 isn't enough, here are 60 of our favourite dishes.

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References & Sources For Best Jamaican Food

  1. Jamaican Jerk - Succulent And Mouthwatering, https://www.my-island-jamaica.com/jamaican_jerk.html

  2. Authentic Jamaican oxtail recipe |, https://jamaicanfoodsandrecipes.com/authentic-jamaican-oxtail-recipe/

  3. Jamaican Spicy Foods | A List Of Our Spiciest Dishes, https://www.my-island-jamaica.com/jamaican_spicy_foods.html

  4. Traditional Jamaican Rice and Peas - The Secret Ingredients!, https://www.my-island-jamaica.com/jamaican_rice_and_peas.html

  5. Jamaican Stew Peas Recipe | How To Make The Tasty, Protein Packed Dish, https://www.my-island-jamaica.com/jamaican_stew_peas.html

  6. Jamaican Run Down - Immaculate Bites, https://www.africanbites.com/jamaican-run-2/
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