While plenty know that the isle of Jamaica is renowned for tropical forests, breezy waterfalls and sun-blessed beaches, any foodie worth their seasoning will know that the island’s cuisine shines just as brightly. Arguably the most well-known Caribbean cuisine, Jamaican food has a long and reputable history of being equal parts mouthwatering and soul-satisfying — no matter what you order, your taste buds are in for a treat. We can’t compile everything to try when visiting (it’s an island’s worth), but we can recommend a few of the best staples.
A savory start to the day, Stamp and Go is typically just one part of a delicious Jamaican breakfast. Comprised of flour, saltfish, onions, peppers and a healthy helping of spices, this fried fish fritter is the island’s de facto on-the-go first meal of the day. Whether you decide to eat it on the go or sit down and savor it is up to you, but pair it with a cup of legendary Blue Mountain Coffee either way — the coffee’s vibrant yet smooth flavor complements the fritter’s salty tang wonderfully.
Perhaps the most important ingredient for much of the island’s cuisine is the Scotch bonnet pepper. You may have noticed these plump, fire-orange peppers seem to find their way into the majority of the dishes, and you’re not mistaken — they are prevalent. To properly prep you for the taste-bud blast: an uncooked Scotch bonnet pepper has a heat rating somewhere between 100,000 and 350,000 Scoville heat units, depending on the pepper. In comparison, jalapeno peppers tend to hover between 2,500 and 8,000. This is an island of spice — making for all the more reason to sample the fresh fruit juice and rum!
The formal national dish of Jamaica, ackee with salt cod is a dish with a straightforward name and a complex flavor. Ackee is the national fruit of the island, but proves fatally toxic when unripe and poorly prepared — so every iteration of the ingredient calls for ample preparation. Properly prepared, ackee has a creamy, buttery texture with the slightest hint of nutty flavor. In the case of the national dish, it’s boiled, diced and then fried with sweet onions, Scotch bonnet peppers, tomatoes and various spices. Salted cod is the final ingredient, making for a playful contrast to the fruit’s sweetness. Historically a breakfast staple, today you’ll find there is no wrong time of day to savor the dish.
The unofficial national dish of Jamaica, jerk chicken (and all other jerk meats, by extension) is a bona fide culinary institution recognized worldwide. There’s no closely guarded secret ingredient to the dish; the key is just the seasoning. Comprised of allspice, scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, garlic and ginger, this medley of spices is vigorously applied to the meat as a dry rub or drenched in marinade before being cooked. As with any culinary staple, there is an art to how it is prepared — you’ll find pit masters approach their craft with a devotion. Jerk pits can be found all over the island, potentially flooding you with possibilities. Luckily enough, we’ve already highlighted one of Jamaica’s best gems.
Ready to head to paradise and sample mouthwatering Jamaican food? Give one of our travel agents a call. Not only do they have industry insights into what to try and where, but also they can cook up exclusive perks and amenities, thanks to their partnerships with the leading names in travel — such as GoGo Vacations. Feasting on tropical delicacies is delightful, but enjoying luxe experiences you didn’t even know about is a whole new level of euphoric.