Welcome to a culinary journey through the vibrant flavors of the Caribbean (this stop Jamaica) with our irresistible grilled jerk shrimp. Succulent juicy shrimp are marinated in a dope blend of fiery spices, taking on a smoky aroma and a mouthwatering heat that will transport your taste buds to Jamaica
Prepare to be dazzled by the sizzling combination of savory, spicy, and smoky flavors that make this dish a true delight for food enthusiasts like yourself looking for an unforgettable dining experience. This dish will leave you craving for more of this Caribbean-inspired masterpiece.
The shrimp is grilled directly over the coals for a quick cook so that you can serve your guests in a matter of minutes.
I'm not saying shrimp is an aphrodisiac, but this grilled jerk shrimp will put you in some type of mood; a good mood that is. Try them as an appetizer to open you up to the remainder of the your menu items.
What Is Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
Jerk seasoning is a bold and flavorful spice blend originating from Jamaica. It is typically made with a combination of ingredients such as scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, thyme, garlic, ginger, and various other spices and herbs. The spicy jerk seasoning is known for its fiery heat, aromatic profile, and complex flavor, which is often associated with Jamaican cuisine. When used to marinate meats, particularly chicken or pork, jerk seasoning adds a distinct and irresistible taste that is both spicy and savory, making it a beloved staple in Caribbean cooking.
Jerk spice holds a prominent place in the culinary traditions of the Caribbean, captivating both locals and visitors with its bold and fiery flavors. Originating in Jamaica, this aromatic blend of herbs and spices has become synonymous with the region's vibrant cuisine.
From its humble roots in roadside jerk shacks to gaining international recognition, the popularity of jerk spice in the Caribbean is a testament to its irresistible allure. Whether enjoyed on succulent grilled meats, seafood, or even vegetarian dishes, the distinctive taste of jerk spice embodies the spirit and zest of Caribbean cooking, making it a beloved and iconic flavor profile that continues to captivate taste buds around the world.
Wet Jerk Marinade vs. Dry Jerk Seasoning
Wet spicy jerk marinade and dry jerk seasoning are two different approaches to infusing dishes with the bold flavors of jerk seasoning. Wet jerk marinade involves creating a liquid mixture by blending or combining ingredients such as scotch bonnet peppers, soy sauce, spices, herbs, citrus lime juice, vinegar, and oil. This marinade is used to coat the meat, allowing it to soak and absorb the flavors before cooking.
On the other hand, dry jerk seasoning refers to a powdered or dry spice blend made by grinding together various herbs, spices, and seasonings like allspice, thyme, garlic, ginger, and more. The dry seasoning is typically rubbed directly onto the meat, forming a flavorful crust during the cooking process.
While both methods share similar ingredients and flavors, wet jerk marinade offers a more intense and penetrating flavor as the meat marinates over a longer period. The dry jerk seasoning, on the other hand, provides a convenient and quick way to achieve the distinctive jerk flavor with a dry rub application. The choice between wet jerk marinade and dry jerk seasoning depends on personal preference and the desired cooking method.
For this grilled shrimp recipe I went with the dry jerk seasoning mix. I wanted this to be easy and quick, so preferred not to go through this process of making and blending up a marinade.
Grilled Jamaican Jerk Shrimp Ingredients
Jerk seasoning is a blend of flavors and spices that creates a truly unique and unforgettable taste experience. The key ingredients in jerk seasoning normally include allspice (also known as pimento), scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, garlic, onion, ginger, and various aromatic herbs and spices. The combination of these elements results in a harmonious fusion of sweet, savory, smoky, and spicy flavors.
The allspice provides a warm and slightly sweet undertone, while the scotch bonnet peppers deliver that fiery kick that sets jerk seasoning apart. The aromatic herbs and spices add depth and complexity, while the garlic, onion, and ginger contribute their pungent and earthy notes.
Together, these flavors intertwine to create a tantalizing and multi-dimensional taste that is distinctly Caribbean and irresistibly delicious. Whether used as a marinade, rub, or sauce, jerk seasoning brings an explosion of flavors that elevate any dish it graces to new heights of culinary delight.
- Jumbo Shrimp - I prefer fresh over frozen shrimp but either will work assuming you defrost first.
- Dry Jerk Seasoning
- Olive Oil
- Fresh thyme for garnishing
- Fresh lime juice
How To Cook Jerk Shrimp
How To Cook Jerk Shrimp
This is an easy dish that comes together quickly.
Clean and Devein Shrimp
To properly clean and devein raw shrimp, start by rinsing them under cold water to remove any excess dirt or debris. Gently pat them dry with a paper towel.
To devein, take a sharp knife and make a shallow cut along the back of the shrimp, exposing the dark vein. Use the tip of the knife or a deveining tool to lift and remove the vein.
Rinse the shrimp again to ensure any remaining debris is washed away. Now, your shrimp are ready to be marinated and cooked to perfection.
Marinate the Shrimp
Marinating jerk shrimp is a crucial step to infuse them with the bold and flavorful essence of jerk seasoning. To marinate, place the cleaned and deveined shrimp in a bowl or resealable bag.
In a separate bowl, prepare the jerk seasoning by combining all the dry spice ingredients. Add in the olive oil and mix well. Pour the mix over the shrimp, ensuring they are fully coated. For maximum flavor, let the shrimp marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or ideally, overnight to allow the flavors to penetrate the shrimp.
Remember to toss or stir the shrimp occasionally to ensure even distribution of the marinade.
Grill the shrimp
Grilling jerk shrimp is a fantastic way to enhance their flavors and impart a smoky char element. There are a few different grilling methods to consider, each with its own pros and cons. The key for each is to not allow the shrimp cook too long.
- Direct Grilling: This is my preferred method and involves placing the shrimp directly over the heat source or coals. It's quick and ideal for shrimp. The direct heat creates beautiful grill marks and a slight char. However, shrimp can easily overcook, so pay close attention to prevent them from becoming dry.
- Indirect Grilling: With this method, the shrimp are cooked next to, rather than directly over, the heat source. It allows for slower, more even cooking and reduces the risk of shrimp becoming overcooked. However, you might miss out on the distinctive char and grill marks.
- Skewer or Grill Basket: Skewering the shrimp or using a grill basket helps prevent them from falling through the grill grates. It also allows for easier flipping and ensures even cooking. However, shrimp can stick to the skewers or grill basket if not properly oiled or seasoned.
Regardless of the grilling method chosen, preheat the grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grates to prevent sticking. Place the shrimp on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side depending on size, or until they turn opaque and develop a slightly charred exterior. Keep a close eye on them as they cook quickly.
Fire grill up and prepare for direct heating. Once the fire is hot add the shrimp and grill no more than 2 minutes per side. Shrimp should turn an opaque orange in color.
Serve with your favorite green sauce.
Grilled Shrimp Cooking Considerations
When making grilled jerk shrimp, here are some cooking considerations and tips to keep in mind:
- Marinating Time: Allow enough time for the shrimp to marinate in the jerk seasoning to fully absorb the flavors. Aim for at least 30 minutes to an hour, or even overnight for a more intense flavor.
- Skewer or Grill Basket: To prevent the shrimp from falling through the grill grates, consider skewering them or using a grill basket. Skewers make it easier to flip the shrimp, while a grill basket keeps them secure and ensures even cooking.
- Preheat the Grill: Make sure to preheat your grill to medium-high heat before cooking the shrimp. This will ensure that the shrimp cook quickly and evenly, with a nice char on the outside while remaining tender on the inside.
- Oil the Grill Grates: To prevent the shrimp from sticking to the grill, lightly brush the grates with oil before placing the shrimp on them. This will help create a non-stick surface and make it easier to flip the shrimp.
- Watch the Cooking Time: Shrimp cook relatively quickly, so keep a close eye on them to avoid overcooking. They are done when they turn pink and opaque, usually within 2-3 minutes per side, depending on the size of the shrimp.
- Baste with Jerk Sauce: As the shrimp grill, brush them with additional jerk sauce or marinade for extra flavor and moisture. Basting with the sauce will add a beautiful glaze and intensify the jerk seasoning.
- Rest Before Serving: Once the shrimp are cooked, allow them to rest for a few minutes before serving. This will help retain their juiciness and allow the flavors to settle.
Choose the largest shrimp available. Smaller shrimp will cook too fast and thus be too easy to overcook.
Remove the shell, but leave the tail in tact for easier handling.
Skewer the shrimp to make grilling simple and to prevent the shrimp from falling through the grates. Otherwise, use a seafood grill pan.
Make your own dry jerk seasoning mix using my recipe or use your favorite store-bought mix.
Butterfly the shrimp for better results. Butterflying creates more surface area for the seasoning and grilling purposes which means more intense flavor for you.
Serve with a green sauce.
Creative Ways To Enjoy Jerk Shrimp
When it comes to serving the cooked shrimp, there are several creative dope ways to showcase the bold flavors and elevate the dining experience. Here are a few ideas:
- Caribbean Skewers: Thread the grilled jerk shrimp onto skewers and intersperse them with colorful tropical fruits like pineapple chunks, mango slices, and bell peppers for a vibrant and flavorful presentation.
- Jerk Shrimp Tacos: Fill warm tortillas with grilled jerk shrimp, and top them with a tangy slaw made from shredded cabbage, carrots, and a zesty lime dressing for a helluva taco Tuesday night. Add some diced avocado and a drizzle of jerk sauce for an extra kick.
- Jerk Shrimp Salad: Toss the grilled jerk shrimp with mixed greens, julienned bell peppers, diced tomatoes, and sliced red onions. Finish it off with a refreshing citrus dressing or a creamy mango dressing for a delightful contrast.
- Jerk Shrimp Skewer Bowl: Serve the grilled jerk shrimp skewers over a bowl filled with fluffy coconut rice, black beans, diced plantains, and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. Drizzle with a jerk glaze or sauce for an explosion of Caribbean flavors.
- Jerk Shrimp Sliders: Place the grilled jerk shrimp on mini buns, and top them with sliced avocado, pickled red onions, and a spicy mayo. Serve them as bite-sized sliders for a crowd-pleasing appetizer or party snack.
- Jerk Shrimp Stir-Fry: Sauté the grilled jerk shrimp with colorful stir-fry vegetables like bell peppers, snap peas, and broccoli florets. Finish with a splash of soy sauce, lime juice, and a sprinkle of fresh herbs for a quick and flavorful meal.
- Jerk Shrimp Lettuce Wraps: Serve the grilled jerk shrimp with large lettuce leaves, such as butter lettuce or romaine hearts, along with a selection of toppings like diced mango, shredded carrots, and chopped cilantro. Let your guests assemble their own delicious and healthy wraps.
- Jerk Shrimp Pasta: The perfectly cooked shrimp is served over al dente pasta that has been tossed in your sauce of choice and fresh thyme, creating a satisfying fusion dish that combines the best of Caribbean and Italian cuisines.
What To Serve With This Grilled Jerk Shrimp Recipe
Grilled jerk shrimp pairs well with a variety of flavorful dishes. Consider serving it alongside coconut rice for a tropical twist, grilled corn on the cob for a smoky sweetness, or a refreshing cucumber and tomato salad for a cool contrast.
You can also serve it with a side of plantains, either fried or grilled, to add a touch of Caribbean authenticity. For a complete meal, consider including a side of black beans and rice or a fresh mango salsa. These complementary dishes will enhance the flavors of the grilled jerk shrimp and create a well-rounded and satisfying dining experience.
Here is a list of foods that pair well with grilled jerk shrimp:
- Coconut Rice: Fragrant and fluffy rice cooked in coconut milk, adding a creamy and slightly sweet flavor that complements the spicy jerk shrimp.
- Grilled Pineapple: Sweet and juicy pineapple slices grilled to perfection, offering a caramelized and tropical touch that balances the heat of the jerk shrimp.
- Mango Salsa: A refreshing combination of ripe mango, red onions, cilantro, lime juice, and spices, providing a vibrant and fruity contrast to the bold flavors of the shrimp.
- Cucumber and Tomato Salad: Crisp cucumber and ripe tomatoes tossed with tangy dressing, creating a cool and refreshing side that adds a touch of freshness to the meal.
- Fried or Grilled Plantains: Ripe plantains sliced and either fried or grilled to bring out their natural sweetness, offering a delightful caramelized flavor that complements the jerk shrimp.
- Jamaican Peas and Rice: A classic Caribbean side dish of seasoned beans and fluffy rice, providing a hearty and satisfying accompaniment to the flavorful shrimp.
- Grilled Corn on the Cob: Fresh corn on the cob grilled to perfection, imparting a smoky and sweet flavor that complements the bold flavors of the jerk shrimp.
- Avocado Salad: Creamy avocado slices tossed with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, and a zesty dressing, providing a creamy and refreshing accompaniment to the grilled jerk shrimp.
- Jerk-seasoned Roasted Vegetables: Assorted vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and onions tossed in jerk seasoning and roasted until tender, adding a flavorful and colorful side to the shrimp.
- Jamaican Steamed Cabbage: Tender cabbage infused with Jamaican spices, slow-steamed to perfection. A savory and colorful side dish that complements any meal.
Frequently Asked Questions About Jerk Shrimp
How spicy is jerk shrimp?
The level of spiciness in jerk shrimp can vary depending on the amount and type of spices used in the jerk seasoning. It is typically moderately spicy, but you can adjust the heat by adding more or less spice according to your preference.
Can I use store-bought jerk seasoning for my shrimp?
Yes, you can use store-bought jerk seasoning to marinate your shrimp. However, homemade jerk seasoning allows you to customize the flavors to your liking. If using store-bought, make sure to read the instructions and adjust the amount to suit your taste.
How long should I marinate the shrimp?
It is recommended to marinate the shrimp in jerk seasoning for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to penetrate the shrimp. However, for more intense flavor, you can marinate them for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Should I use fresh or dried herbs and spices for jerk shrimp?
While fresh herbs and spices can add a more vibrant flavor, dried herbs and spices work well too. If using dried, make sure they are not expired and still aromatic to ensure optimal flavor.
More Shrimp Recipes
make this Jamaican Jerk Shrimp recipe
This tantalizing jerk shrimp recipe is a flavorful Caribbean delight. The well balanced blend of aromatic spices, fiery heat, and succulent shrimp creates culinary goodness that will leave you licking your fingers!
Whether you're hosting a backyard barbecue or looking to add some zest to your weeknight dinner, these jerk shrimp are sure to impress with their bold flavors and irresistible appeal. So fire up the grill, get ready to savor the explosion of flavors, and embark on a culinary journey that celebrates the vibrant and dynamic spirit of Caribbean cuisine.
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- 1 lb Jumbo Shrimp peeled and de-veined
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon jerk seasoning
- Remove the shrimps’ shells and veins. Run a sharp knife across spine of the shrimp and then remove the black vein from each.
- Add shrimp to a large bowl. Add in olive oil making sure the shrimp is glazed well with the oil. Add the jerk seasoning and toss well.
- Fire grill up and prepare for direct heating. Once the fire is hot add the shrimp and grill no more than 2 minutes per side. Shrimp should turn an opaque orange in color.
- Serve with your favorite green sauce.