Jerk pork, grilled fish and mango chow: Caribbean barbecue recipes

Ilove barbecue season: that smoky smell, the balmy evenings and the sound of laughter all while dining alfresco. Let the marinades do the early work for you, with the barbecue adding the finishing touches. You can swap the mango in the chow for other seasonal fruits – it works brilliantly with apple, cucumber, and pineapple, too. And if the thought of raw chilli sends you running, simply reduce the amount and add a little extra coriander to cool.

Jerk pork belly
A relatively hands-off recipe that leaves you with a sweet and spicy jerk pork. Serve with the mango chow in fresh hard dough bread or a warm brioche bun – the double spice will be worth it.

Prep 20 min
Marinate Overnight
Cook 2 hr 30 min
Serves 4

500g pork belly
Fine sea salt or kosher salt

For the jerk marinade (or buy a jar of jerk seasoning)
1 large bunch thyme, leaves picked and washed (or 1 tbsp dried thyme)
1 large bunch coriander, washed
6 medium onions, peeled and quartered
2 whole garlic bulbs, cloves separated and peeled
1 tbsp allspice
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
4 tbsp soy sauce
6 scotch bonnet chillies, deseeded

If you’re making the marinade, blend all the ingredients in a food processor until very finely chopped and smooth. It can now be stored in a clean jar in the fridge for two to three weeks; alternatively, freeze it in ice-cube trays, store in a sealed plastic container and defrost as needed.

Score the pork skin all over with a sharp knife and rub with the marinade (or dry spice rub), covering it evenly with a thin layer. Make sure to add salt if your marinade or spice rub does not already include it; you can be reasonably generous if using kosher salt – about two tablespoons should do it. Leave to marinate in the fridge overnight.

When you’re ready to cook, heat the barbecue well in advance. If you’re using a gas barbecue, heat for 20-30 minutes before grilling; for coal barbecues, make sure the flames have died down and got that wonderful glow.

Lay the pork skin side down on the coolest part of the barbecue – you can create hot and cool zones by having one side on a lower setting for gas or by moving some of the coals to one side for coal barbecues. Cover with a lid and leave to crisp for 20-30 minutes – keep an eye on it, because you don’t want the skin to burn.

Once the skin is crisp, turn the pork over and leave to cook until the meat is tender enough to pull it apart easily with a fork. This should take about two hours. Once cooked, remove, cover with foil and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Grilled fish steaks
A quick and simple recipe for when you’ve arrived late but hungry to the barbecue. It’s the perfect balance to the sweet and spiciness of the chow below, too.

Prep 15 min
Cook 10 min
Serves 4

6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 banana shallot or 2 pink shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 spring onions, washed and roughly chopped
4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
1 tsp dried coriander
Juice of ½ lemon
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 swordfish or other meaty fish steaks (the fish needs to have some heft or it will fall apart), or mackerel fillets (if you use the latter, you’ll need to adjust the cooking time down slightly)

Blend all the ingredients bar the fish in a food processor until you have a smooth marinade. Pat the fish dry and put in a (preferably glass) dish big enough to hold all the steaks in a single layer.

Pour the marinade over the steaks, making sure to coat both sides evenly, and set aside while you heat the barbecue.

If you’re using a gas barbecue, heat for 20-30 minutes before grilling; for coal barbecues, make sure the flames have died down and got that wonderful glow. Grill the fish on the hottest part of the barbecue for five minutes, then turn and cook on the other side for another three or so minutes. The steaks should flake easily while maintaining their firmness. You may see a little pink still on the inside, but this will be cooked in the residual heat by the time you serve.

Mango chow
I have a lot of love for chilli, but never want it to mask everything else I’m eating. This dish does the exact opposite, with each element complementing another. This is a Trinidadian dish that should really feature chadon beni, a stronger version of coriander, but it still delivers with common coriander.

Prep 5 min
Assemble 15 min
Serves 4

½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 banana shallots, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
2 green mangoes
1 small handful coriander leaves, washed, dried and roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
1 tsp white-wine vinegar
1-2 chillies (I like scotch bonnet), deseeded and thinly sliced

Put the salt, pepper, garlic and shallots in a bowl. Peel the mangoes and cut into wedges to remove the seed. Thinly slice each wedge and add to the bowl, with the coriander, lemon or lime juice and vinegar.

Mix well with a spoon to prevent the chilli burning your hands, then taste and adjust the seasoning. This can be served immediately, but it’s best left to rest in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.