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Jamaican Appetizers
A Tasty Introduction To Jamaica's Cuisine

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Jamaican Appetizers | Saltfish FrittersJamaican Appetizers | Saltfish Fritters

by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

Am I the only one who orders my main course from the appetizer menu? Appetizers are always fun and tasty, they come in small portions and make perfect finger foods.


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On a typical day in most Jamaican households appetizers are not served. In fact, many of our foods that would be considered appetizers are just smaller portions of the things that we would eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

One thing for sure though is that Jamaican appetizers are packed with flavour but the best part is that they are quick and easy to make. This makes them perfect for serving at dinner parties, just in case you run out you can whip up another batch in no time.

What Do Jamaicans Eat For Appetizers?

Alright, so here is a list of some of my all-time favourite Jamaican appetizers, and yes of course there are some jerked dishes.

If you were to visit Jamaica, these are some of the options you would find on the appetizer menu for most restaurants that focus on Jamaican cuisine.

1. Jerk Chicken Wings

Isn’t this the most obvious one? Wings are served worldwide as the go-to appetizer, they are simply just prepared differently in most places. So naturally, in Jamaica, the home of all things jerk, we marinate our chicken breasts in jerk sauce and pop them on the grill.

Making these are quick and easy, all you need to do is season your chicken wings with your favourite jerk season blend or make yours from scratch and pop them onto the grill or in the oven for around 25 to 30 minutes.

2. Saltfish Fritters (Flittaz) or Stamp and Go

This is another very common dish in Jamaica. It is usually had for breakfast or eaten as a snack. They make great appetizers and you will find them on the menu of most restaurants in Jamaica. 

To make these all you need to do is combine salted codfish that you have broken down into tiny pieces into a bowl with flour, black pepper, onion, scallion and scotch bonnet pepper. Mix with water until a thick mixture is formed and fry in a shallow frying pan until golden brown on both sides. 

Oh yes, we do have a recipe here, take a look at it.

3. Ackee And Saltfish

Our national dish and it certainly makes a great appetizer. Once you have prepared your ackee and saltfish, which is quick and easy to make, just saute your saltfish, seasonings and pre-cooked ackee in some vegetable oil, serve and thin round crackers, for the perfect starter course. 

4. Soups

Wherever you go, you are pretty much guaranteed to see a soup on the menu. It is no different for Jamaica. While we typically serve soup for dinner or lunch, they also make very tasty appetizers that can be prepared in advance and only require to be reheated.

Some of the best Jamaican soups for appetizers are chicken soups, pumpkin soup, red peas soup or fish teas.

5. Jamaican Peppered Shrimps

This is a popular Jamaican street food that will make a great addition to any appetizer menu. All you need to do is stir fry your garlic, ginger, salt and scotch bonnet pepper in some oil for around 2 minutes then add your clean shrimps with the shells still on, into the mix and stir fry for another 3 minutes. The final step is to add some vinegar, stir fry for another 2 to 3 minutes and you're done.

Better yet, take a look at this page for some sumptuous Jamaican shrimp recipes!

6. Mango Chutney

Mango chutney is a spicy dip or spread made from main mangoes and other spices. The best thing about mango chutney is that it goes great with almost everything including hard and soft tortillas, breadsticks, crackers, wings, shrimp and much more.

It is quite simple to make. In a saucepan combine all your ingredients, sugar, lime juice, chopped mangoes, ginger, garlic, scotch bonnet pepper, onion, bell peppers and a bit of water. Bring to a boil then cook on low heat for around 20 minutes or until sauce is thick and ingredients soft.

7. Cream of Callaloo Soup

Callaloo is probably one of the most used vegetables in Jamaica and is incorporated in many of our dishes. To make this soup sauté in some coconut oil, onions, garlic and butter. Next, add already chopped callaloo and stir for a while then add a small amount of your favourite vegetable or chicken broth. Cook until soft then add all the ingredients into a blender with some coconut or heavy cream and blend until smooth. Return the mixture to the stove and season with salt and pepper.

8. Pressed Plantains

This is another food that makes great appetizers but is normally had at breakfast as sides. Even at lunch and dinner too. Once you have your plantains washed and peeled, chop a medium-sized plantain into four pieces.

Fry each piece until it is soft enough to stick a fork through then remove from the oil and use the removed plantain peel to press the plantain down until flat. Add to hot oil again and fry on both sides until nice and crispy. Sprinkle it with salt and enjoy.

Read more about how to use plantains in Jamaica here.

We have even combined some of our favourite flavours with other cuisines of the world to come up with new exciting Jamaican appetizers.

9. Jerk Chicken Quesadillas

Jerk Chicken Quesadillas are one example of this. What do you enjoy on your quesadilla? Like chicken wings, quesadillas are also very customizable.

To make your quesadilla with a Jamaican flair simply season your chicken with a generous amount of jerk season blend.

For the best results use the thigh of the chicken as it retains moisture. You can also use shredded or diced boneless pre jerked chicken thighs.

Add your favourite cheeses and vegetables like sweet peppers and you will have some tasty quesadillas ready in no time. 

10. Pineapple Jerk Chicken Kabab

Not only are kebabs easy to make, but they are also fun to make as well. All you need to do is gather your ingredients and cut them into squares similar in size. So your seasoned chicken breast, pineapple chunks, and red, green and yellow bell peppers. Arrange them on a skewer and pop them on the grill for a few minutes.

Jamaican Appetizers are a fun and delicious way to be introduced to Jamaica’s cuisine and with these delicious ones you definitely won’t be disappointed.

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References & Sources For Jamaican Appetizers

  1. 17 Traditional Jamaican Appetizers - Insanely Good, https://insanelygoodrecipes.com/jamaican-appetizers/
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