You know a spot is good when they don’t have a website, the guy behind the counter assures you “I’ll take care of you,” although he’s never met you, and in my best Guy Fieri voice, is literally “off the beaten path.” That is Tropical Times Caribbean in Maywood, IL that is known for their jerk chicken. Like gumbo and macaroni and cheese, everyone has their preference. Theirs is mine. I think it’s the BEST. The heat is perfectly balanced and they add grilled peppers and onions which is my favorite veggie combo. Single fellas, if you ever want to make a woman think you can cook, just put peppers and onions on the stove. It smells so good, she’ll think your Marcus Graham.”
The seasoning and tenderness of the chicken is pure perfection. Matter of Fact, I think it’s so good, if I’m coming to your party and you so happen to live near tropical Times Carribean, it’s a pre-requisite that jerk chicken is there. The last party I was invited to, I confessed to my girl Kelly that I was only coming for the chicken….oh and I suppose her birthday. I’m addicted to it… okay, I lack judgment at times, but it’s sooooooo gooood.
I have had jerk chicken many times, I’ve always thought it was overrated and never understood what all the hype was about. No seriously. Have you ever met someone that said “I don’t like…gumbo,” and your response was “you just haven’t had prepared the right way.” I think this was the case for me. Every time I would eat jerk chicken, it seemed overbearingly hot. Like, so much heat you can’t even taste the chicken or spices. You know that type of heat where you can’t think straight, eyes start tearing up, and you think, at that moment, this is how it’s going to end for you: death by jerk chicken. I’ve had it that way and I’ve had it where for some “cost effective” reason, there was no meat on the bone. Like I was eating jerk chicken bones.
Now you might know a spot in the Bronx who has the best jerk chicken; maybe when you vacation in Jamaica, you experience the realness, or if you are from the west side of Chicago, the best to you might be Jerk Taco Man, but to me this is the best I’VE had. So when I came home one day after work to an uncontrollable Jerk Chicken craving and I had to choose between driving in rush hour traffic and fulfilling this craving….. Jerk Shrimp Fried Rice came into play. I love thinking up unique culture fusions and just going with it. I mean who doesn’t like fried rice? Who doesn’t like shrimp? Marry those two and throw in some heat and you have the perfect trio. I’m a Midwestern girl, so I will always love comfort food. This is my version of taking your weeknight meal up a level. If you’re wondering, I made it to Kelly’s party: I got jerk chicken, she got 2 bottles of wine. Balance.
Clean ChEATer’s Jerk Shrimp “Fried” Rice
*1 1/4 Soy Sauce
6 tbs. Fresh Lime Juice
2 tbs. EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1 tbs. Worcestershire (optional)
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. ground ginger
11/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
Honey/Raw Sugar/Agave/Stevia to taste.
½ lb. Jumbo Shrimp (16/20 count)
1c. Brown Rice
2 carrots, chopped fine
½ red pepper, chopped fine
½ onion, chopped fine
Scallions to garnish
Cook rice as directed using chicken broth as the water. (If rice directions say 2 c. water use 2 c. broth)
Lightly season shrimp with salt & pepper.
Combine soy sauce, lime juice, evoo, Worcestershire, spices, and sweetener of your choice. Reduce until it thinly coats the back of a spoon
Using a pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, sauté veggies until slightly tender. Add shrimp and cook just until light pink, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside
Spray a pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine cooked rice, veggies/shrimp mixture, and about half the sauce.
Garnish with scallions. Devour.
-*Liquid Aminos are a great swap for soy sauce.
-Traditional Jerk uses scotch bonnet peppers which have a heat index of 100,000–350,000 Scoville units (SHU). The SHU scale measures the heat of chili peppers. Put it in perspective? Most jalapeño peppers have a heat rating of 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville scale. I used crush red pepper flakes because I wasn’t going back to the store, lol; but you can use whatever peppers you’re comfortable with.
-No garlic powder? If you have fresh garlic in your fridge, definitely use it.
-Throw diced pineapple in to add some tang.
-Worcestershire isn’t required, but I LOVE it. It adds such a great tanginess and depth to your dish.