Ok, Y’all. Jamaican jerk used to be one of my most beloved meals. Although I don’t have anything against processed vegan meat, I don’t purchase it. The idea of putting jerk sauce on vegan meat simply never appealed to me… Discovering jackfruit changed everything. It doesn’t have a flavor of its own – meaning it can be seasoned with whatever your heart desires – and it looks similar to pulled chicken. It was the perfect choice. This Jamaican platter is inspired by one I used to have all the time when I lived in LA. My favorite spot in Echo Park, Cha Cha Cha, closed down, but I will never forget its colorful plates.
I served mine with the jerk jackfruit, sweet plantains, black beans, rice, yams, and mango salsa. Plus I added some extra jerk sauce to the black beans. Amazing. I will say, this meal can feel like a lot of steps if you’re not used to cooking so many items like this. Depending on how much time you’re dedicating, it’s wise to prepare half the night before – such as the mango salsa, black beans, yams, and jerk sauce. Especially because the mango salsa will taste better once the flavors combine in the fridge, and the jerk sauce is best marinated on the jackfruit overnight. All you need to do the following day is bake/saute the jackfruit, heat the yams + black beans, and prepare the rice and plantains. It’s all worth it, promise.
Fried Sweet Plantain (Platanos Maduros)
- 2 plantains (You want the plantains to be black or very yellow with black markings. Green plantains are great for frying tostones, but with sweet plantains like the ones here, you want them extremely ripe so they crystallize from the sugar).
- In a pan, heat a neutral oil over medium heat.
- Peel plantains (cut a slit just deep enough to cut the peel) and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices.
- Add to the frying pan.
- Let cook on each side until golden, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the oil onto a plate.
- 2-3 mangos, diced
- 1/4 cup red onion
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- juice from lime, lemon, and orange (use your discretion)
- salt & pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Adjust ingredients as needed to suit your taste.
* I did not add spice because I wanted the mango to be a refreshing compliment to the spice of the jerk. if you love spice, go big and add jalapeño.
Jamaican Jerk Jackfruit
- 1⁄4 cup pimento berries, ground fine
- 1⁄2 cup brown or coconut sugar
- 8 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 4 scallions
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- 3 scotch bonnet peppers, or habaneros (I used 1 because I’m a baby)
- 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
- juice of one lime
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil (like grapeseed)
- one can of jackfruit in brine
- Put all ingredients – except jackfruit! – in a food processor (or blender) and liquify.
- You’ll have extra sauce, so pour that into a jar and keep it in the fridge. It will stay good for a long time, but if you’re not sure the next time you’ll use it, freeze it.
- I added the lime last to get the sauce to liquify a little more once it was well combined.
- Remove jackfruit from the can, peel apart until it takes on a shredded consistency. Take a kitchen towel and press out as much moisture as possible.
- Pour sauce over jackfruit.
- I let my jackfruit marinate overnight, but if you want it asap, I recommend marinating it a minimum of 2 hours.
- Once marinated, preheat over to 350º. Lay jackfruit evenly over a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes. Watch and take out if it starts to dry out.
- Once baked, transfer to a skillet with some grapeseed oil over medium-high & sauté until it begins to crisp up.
*Disclaimer: This is the recipe I conjured up after scouring for an authentic jerk. I am in no way claiming this as my own – it’s merely an adaptation of several amazing recipes.
*On the jackfruit: I used canned jackfruit because I refused to go through the process of taking it apart fresh. You can use fresh jackfruit – but know that it will be sweeter and juicier, and I’m not sure it will yield the same results.
*On cutting extremely spicy peppers: They are hot as shit. Handle with care. My hands were still stinging the next morning.