The primary flavours of jerk seasoning are allspice accompanied by a strong heat. Authentic jerk seasoning is not mild. Other herbs and spices like ginger, garlic, and onion form the background flavour notes.
It also has some health benefits-
- Minerals: Like most spices, allspice is a good source of important minerals including iron, calcium, and magnesium. It is a very good source of manganese.
- Eugenol: Eugenol is an essential oil found in allspice. It has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties.
- Capsaicin: While some jerk seasoning blends may contain cayenne pepper, the traditional pepper in this seasoning is scotch bonnet. This is an extra hot hottest chilli pepper and is responsible for most of its characteristic heat.
- Vitamins: Thyme is a rich source of vitamin C and contains smaller amounts of a few B vitamins including B-2 and B-6. The allspice in jerk seasoning provides vitamin C. Green onions are another staple ingredient in jerk seasoning blends and are rich in vitamin A.
The historical use for this spice blend is for seasoning pork. Its use on other proteins is a relatively recent phenomenon. That said, it is a versatile spice blend that can be found in both powder and paste form. You can use it to flavor chicken, fish, or tofu along with pork.