More Than Chicken


The islands, and Jamaica in particular, bring their vibrant kaleidoscope of life to the table and have made their cuisine a celebration.  One of their creations, jerk sauce, is of such flavorful exuberance to have gained acclaim far beyond the Caribbean.  Most commonly, jerk sauce enhances chicken, but it works magic for all manner of foods, including, as in today’s entry, lobster.

Naturally.  Being islanders, Jamaicans never are far from the sea and its bounty.  Why not take the ocean’s most succulent shellfish and pair it with a happy concoction that empties the spice cupboard?  Good lobsters and a great sauce.  All that’s needed for the perfect culinary moment is to enjoy it where the azure sea laps a palm tree-lined beach.  Fortunately, Jamaica has that in abundance too.

Such scenes fill many a dream, and it inspired the Food Network, too, which included the recipe on its website.  As with today’s attempt, the Food Network suggest pairing the lobster with coconut rice.  It’s a good match, as the rice’s toasty and mildly sweet profile anticipates similar flavors in the shellfish, and also helps to smooth some of the jerk sauce’s more assertive spicy notes.

A personal addition comes with the diced mango you see centered on the plate.  The bright and almost peppery sweetness both enhances the coconut rice’s creamy subtleness and provides an interesting foil for the jerk sauce.  The mango has spice of a sort, though it takes it a sweet direction.

Jerk chicken is justifiably celebrated the world round, including on this site a few summers ago, though it’s too good a sauce to stay with just one ingredient.  How to improve on lobster?  Jamaica has an answer!

*****

Grilled Lobster Tail with Jerk Sauce and Coconut Rice

For the rice:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cup basmati rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 and 1/4 cups coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

For the jerk sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • one 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 habanero pepper, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts, chopped
  • 2  teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 limes, juiced, plus zest of one
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

For the lobster:

  • 4 10- to 12-ounce lobster tails, split in half lenthwise

Start with the jerk sauce.  Set a medium saucepan over a medium-high flame and pour in the oil.  Add the garlic, ginger, habanero and the scallions and cook until fragrant, about two minutes.   Push ingredients aside and add the allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, bay leaf and salt.  Let if sit in place for 15 seconds to toast, then stir together with the other ingredients.

Stir in the chicken stock, brown sugar, soy sauce, thyme and lime zest.  Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened somewhat, about 7 minutes.  Stir in the lime juice and the cilantro and cook for another minute until slightly reduced.  Set aside.

Next, prepare the rice.  Set a medium saucepan over a medium flame and add the oil.  Add the rice and stir to coat,  Continue, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted, about three minutes.  Add 1 and 1/2 cups of water, the coconut milk and the salt and stir to combine.  Simmer, uncovered, until the liquid just submerges the rice, about 15 minutes.  Cover the pot and reduce the flame to low.  Continue cooking for another 10 minutes.  Turn off the flame and stir in the scallions and cilantro.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a grill to a medium flame.  Take each lobster tail and brush the flesh side with some jerk sauce.  Place lobster tail, flesh side-down on the grill.  Cook until lightly charred, about five minutes.

Flip each tail to shell side-down, and brush the flesh side with some more jerk sauce.  Cook for three more minutes.

Heap the coconut rice on a platter and place the lobster tails on top.  Serve alongside a bowl of the remaining jerk sauce, for diners to add as desired.

 

20 thoughts on “More Than Chicken

    1. Thanks, Crystal!

      Coconut…well, anything…always suffices. Why do you think I love Thai cuisine to distraction?

      Eye and eye loves me some Jamaica, sistah. Have you been there ever? I haven’t. The Bahamas are as close as I got. but a boy can dream, can’t he?

      Like

      1. Mine too, Crystal! Well…one of the top spots for sure, though I haven’t decided quite yet how it fits in with Australia and Japan. All three, right?

        For serious dreamers only. A few years back, I looked into round-trip airfare between New York and Sydney. On a whim, I checked out first-class, which is a comfortable way to make tolerable a 22-hour flight. The price? $24K.

        You buying?

        Like

      2. Opulence….I has it?

        Maybe not, which is why $24K airfare inspired in me exactly the reaction it did in you. For now at least, it’s a dream deferred to the first billion.

        Like

    1. Why, thank you, Rachel!

      No lobster, eh? Just what were you doing during the League’s annual Christmas Banquet? Circulating among your constituents, I’d wager, and preventing them from sneaking into the wine cellar for an extra bottle…or a tryst.

      Anyway, just think of lobster as really big shrimp, and you get the idea. Pricey shrimp, to be sure, but when your moment arrives you’ll be happy for the indulgence.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s not fair, is it, Rachel? They drank the champagne, and you got the hangover.

        Still, there’s so much out there for you to experience. We must see what we may devise for your enrichment.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Much obliged, Tiffany!

      One of the first recipes this blog offered, quite a while ago, was Jerk Chicken. That turned out well, so what else? How about lobster? All signs point to “Yes!”

      Like

    1. Appreciate the good thoughts, Angela!

      Lobster and coconut rice really is a most agreeable combination. Quite a while ago, when the blog first was making its way in the world, Jerk Chicken illuminated a post. The impression was a lasting one, though, as the taste inspired many encore performances, and a search for additional applications.

      The first time around, Festival (a mildly sweet bread Jamaicans love) accompanied the dinner. Definitely on the right path here. So, how about…coconut rice this time? And mangoes! Yes!

      Relax, sigh, and let the flavors delight. You’re on island time…in paradise.

      Liked by 1 person

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