Being Jamaican, I grew up eating Jerk chicken, pork, shrimp etc. I remember when my brother Ken bought the traditional steel drum grill for family barbeques. We were all so excited to get this flavor from our home country. But in 2015, I stop eating chicken and occasionally I eat pork. So no more jerk for me but I realized that there are certain fruits/vegetables that can be substituted for a chicken like cauliflower or jackfruit.

So, I was going to go right into how to make Jerk Cauliflower but I think you need a little history of how Jerk became so important in Jamaica. Like Achee and Saltfish, whenever you think of Jerk, you think Jamaica.

We have been told the word”jerk’ comes from the Spanish word “charqui” which means jerked or dried meat. This term eventually became “jerky” in English. But there’s another story about jerking or poking the meat with a sharp object to make holes so spices could be added to the meat. Like most Caribbean islands, Jamaica is a melting pot of cultures including the Portuguese, Spanish, British, Dutch, West African, East Indian and Chinese. Some believe that jerk was developed by African slaves that escaped into the hills of Jamaica when the British captured the island from Spain in 1655. The slaves now called “Maroons’ would have made use of natural food sources available to create the spicy dry or wet rub.  There are other stories of how ‘ jerk” came to be but that’s for another day.

Now, great Jerk is always better on a grill, but I live in New York. And in the fall I cook my jerk in the oven or make a jerk stew. REPEAT AFTER ME …NO JERK RICE!

Now every Jamaican has his/or her own version of what makes a great jerk seasoning. But the three main ingredients is still the same, Allspice (Pimenta Seeds), Thyme and Scotch Bonnet pepper. Be forewarned Jerk is meant to be hot and spicy, not mild. But you can purchase a mild version from Grace Foods and Walker’s.


My Jerk Seasonings (Wet Rub)

  • 2 Tbsp Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp Fresh Ginger (peeled, rough chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic (rough chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp of brown sugar( you can use white sugar)
  • 2 Tbsp Allspice (Pimenta Seeds)
  • 1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme (leaves only)
  • 1 large onion (rough chopped)
  • ½ cup scallions (chopped)
  • 2 Scotch Bonnet Pepper (finely diced)
  • ½ cup Vegetable oil( sometimes use ¼ veg & ¼ cup of olive oil)
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ½ tsp Nutmeg
  • Dash of fresh orange juice
  • Optional: if too thick add 2 Tbsp of water


    • Combine all ingredients in Blender, Blend until slightly smooth
    • Place in Jar, stored up to a month in the refrigerator.

    Jerk Cauliflower

    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
    • Cut clean Cauliflower in steak size portions
    • Add wet Jerk seasoning rub to cauliflower ( coat all areas)
    • Sprinkle with a little olive oil on steaks
    • Place on baking sheet
    • Roast cauliflower for 15-20 min( based on your oven)
    • Note: make sure to check steaks after 10 mins and flip over.
    • Once finished cooking, eat with your favorite sides.




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