Scotchies, Montego Bay Jamaica – Yeah Mon!!

May 4, 2017

in Channel 7 News Feature Stories,Food for Thought,International,Main Course,Side Dishes,Special Events

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SCOTCHIES JAMAICAN JERK STAND

Falmouth Road,
Coral Gardens, Rose Hall
Montego Bay, Jamaica
1 876-953-8041
-no website-

Reviewed & Photographed by Les Noteworthy

Food: Service: Jamaican cuisine is unique in the world. It utilizes ingredients, flavors and especially cooking techniques given to extinction in other cultures. Created largely from a melting pot of origins, cultures and histories, Jamaican cuisine represents its people, and their motto “Out of many, one people!” Let’s visit Scotchies in Montego Bay!

Outside View of Scotchies

Outside View of Scotchies

Certain items quickly spring forward when thinking Jamaican cuisine. Amongst the first is meat-patties. These are similar to Cornish pasties; meat filled turnovers or empanadas. The Jamaican versions contain unique and interesting flavors, not present in other styles. They are fairly large in size with flaky crust and often spicy filling. Also curried goat, which reminds this author of a

Casual Outdoor Seating

textural and flavor cross between beef and lamb. Jamaican Curries tend to be milder and somewhat sweeter than most Asian versions, perhaps saving for later the otherwise intense heat of the indigenous Jamaican Scotch Bonnet peppers for other items.

Rice and Peas is another classic Jamaican side dish, although the “peas” are quite often red beans. In this dish, recipes employ the Scotch Bonnet, but not sliced, so that only a gentle warmth is released into the food, tempered by the use of coconut milk when the making of the rice. Salt Fish (salt cod) and Ackee is another very Jamaican food item. In fact, it is the national dish of Jamaica! Ackee is the national fruit, in the same family as lychee. Originally hailing from West Africa, it grows prolifically not only in Jamaica, but many other Caribbean countries. Other popular food components are ginger (Jamaican ginger is often regarded amongst the finest in the world), plantains and coconut. But for me one item stands clear as the most notable of all Jamaican food stylings, and that is Jerk!

The Proper "Jerk" Fire

Jerk is a Jamaican method of preparing meats. The word is thought to be a derivation of the Spanish term charqui which refers to cooking over a fire. Jerking also refers to poking numerous holes in the meat to allow it to absorb more flavor from the marinade. In Jamaica, Jerk is food styling, a spice blend, a wet marinade and a style of cooking. The jerk marinade, whether a wet marinade or dry spice rub, can be as personal as mohos, sofritos or Garam masalas, but generally contain three key ingredients. Those are allspice, thyme and Scotch Bonnet peppers, with a variety of others.

Jerking Done Right

There are also differences in the method of cooking, or Jerking. Historically, early practitioners of the art would cook on wood fires, specifically green wood, which doesn’t really flame. It just smolders, giving off aromatic, flavorful smoke. This is akin to the ancient technique known as “boucanning”, which incorporates the French word “boucan” meaning to smoke, and is the origin of words such as bacon and buccaneer. It also provides a key ingredient in Jerk meats. This use of fresh, green wood has been widely replaced with charcoal, for functionality and availability.

To have authentic Jerk meats, you truly need to experience one of the roadside Jerk stands which are common in Jamaica, as well as many other Caribbean islands. One of the best, is a spot called Scotchies! This place is authentic, clever and delicious!

Scotchies Menu... it is all about the food!

You can spot Scotchies from a fair distance because it looks like a small house on fire, and there are always plenty of cars waiting for the opportunity to taste the smoky jerk deliciousness that is offered. The secret here is simple, owing largely to the cooking technique. Scotchies features the historically accurate green wood logs, building their cooking “tables” from corrugated tin sheets. The logs, most between 2-3″ thick, are set upon the tin sheets providing some of the heat and the necessary smoke source. There is generally a heat source below the tin sheets, most often charcoal, but gas is sometimes employed to get the logs smoldering. Once the temperature of the fires are correct, the marinated meats are laid directly atop the smoldering logs, then covered with another large tin sheet, trapping the heat and smoking the meats to completion. The Jerk meats are then chopped to order, wrapped in aluminum foil and returned to the logs to re-heat before serving. They are served in the foil wrap container and can be enjoyed on site, or taken away.

The menu at the Scotchies in Rose Hall was simple…so simple, in fact, that there was only one scotch taped to the cashier’s counter. They also offer a variety of side dishes, including rice and peas (red beans), steamed potato and pumpkin, roasted yams and breadfruit and more. Soft drinks, water and the ever present Red Stripe beers are also available.

Scotchies Basket of Jerk Pork

The service was too was simple. You place your order with the cashier, who gives you a ticket indicating portion size and food item. You give your ticket to the ever smiling team of smoky cooks and food wrappers, and minutes later, you receive your packages of foil wrapped goodness. Plastic plates and cutlery kits were available upon request.

Bucket of Scotchies Jerk Chicken Done Right!

I have enjoyed many variations of jerk pork and jerk chicken, as well as jerk fish, shrimp, lobster, goat and even vegetables. The marinade is critical to establishing many things about the dish, including moisture, flavor and heat, yet I believe that the most important factor is the development of the smoke component, which separates the men from the boys, so to speak! I found Scotchies flavors to be on the money! The allspice is upfront in both the chicken and the pork, while the Scotch Bonnet component is mild and subtle, creeping into the mix from the back of the palate, leaving a long, warm glow to a very happy mouth!

The chicken was incredibly moist, unlike many of my previous experiences with Jerk Chicken, which easily dries out in the process. The pork appeared a bit dry at first, but was really quite moist; pork butt was the cut used. Both were quite different in flavor as well as presentation. The pork was served in large diced cubes, while the chicken was a quartered bird then chopped into more manageable pieces. It was undoubtedly the moistest Jerk chicken I have yet to try!

The Cashier Stand at Scotchies...Nothing Too Fancy Here!

The sides we selected were not quite as impressive. The rice and peas were dry and lifeless, although you could taste the presence of the coconut milk and thyme, and feel some gentle warmth from the Scotch Bonnet. The steamed pumpkin was pretty much flavorless, and the roasted yam was thoroughly overlooked and tasteless, devoid of salt or any other seasonings. I guess they would both improve if mixed with the sauce from the chicken, or one of the available condiments.

Our adventure at Scotchies was over. We smelled smoky for days, but our taste buds were happy for the opportunity to taste some of the finest Jerk meats available in Jamaica. Scotchies in Rose Hall, Montego Bay. Scotchies is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week, but it is also open 24 hours daily..

As always, I ask myself, would I return, and the answer is unquestionably yes. I also ask myself, would I recommend this establishment to a friend, and that answer is this: Don’t miss the chance to check out Scotchies while in Jamaica! It is an outstanding representation of authentic Jamaican Jerk. (Note: I wanted to give 4 stars for food, but the side dishes brought it down to 3 & 1/2). When you visit Scotchies tell them Les Noteworthy from Dinnerreviews.com© sent you!

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