Jerk Sauce. It’s something that sounds like it would come from John Scrovak‘s greatest hits of double entendre, and by it’s actual description doesn’t shy away from this. It’s a style in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with “jerk spice”, which is typically a blend of Scotch Bonnet chiles, allspice, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, thyme, salt and some variations in spices off that by preference of the cook. Final cooking is done by either grilling directly over fire or slow smoked similar to Texas barbeque. Today’s review looks at Race City Sauce Works‘ version of this sauce; Jerklokia.
Jerk as a cooking style is a fairly cornerstone style that stands out beyond it’s cultural norm usually in it’s original form and is served all across the Americas and Europe and is usually introduced to nearly anyone who has traveled the Western Caribbean islands. It almost always immediately makes you think of one specific place on earth, and that’s because the jerk cooking style is synonymous with Jamaica, so much that I would go out on a limb and say that nearly any meat that has been “jerked” could be considered a national dish for Jamaica. What we have today is a twist in which the traditional Scotch Bonnet has been traded in for it’s searing heat for some nuclear level heat from the Bhut Jolokia, a.k.a. Ghost Pepper, which you can generally estimate as being about 4-5 times hotter than a Scotch Bonnet and a few of the ingredients have been tweaked as well.
I have to say that reading through the ingredient list is a pleasure at this point. There are a host of contrasts indicating touches of sweet, salty, savory, spicy, tart, earthy and by far my favorite is seeing that Kuchela is added in, which is essentially a spicy and salty mango chutney from the Caribbean that I think is ridiculously good on halves of Scotch eggs when blended as 2 parts Kuchela to one part traditional English style mango chutney (adds a little sweetness). To get an idea of the depth and variance in flavors of Jerklokia, here’s the full list of ingredients: Scallions, Bhut Jolokia Peppers, Black Pepper, Ginger, Lime Juice, Spices, Garlic, Sugar Cane Juice, Kuchela (mango, vinegar, vegetable oil, mustard seed oil, spices, salt, chile peppers), Thyme, 7 Pot Peppers, Dark Chocolate, Dark Rum, Salt, Crushed Pineapple, Coconut Flake and Herbs. You’ll see a general lack of meaningless fillers, such as vinegar or water, and what’s left is a rather thick and coarse blend of what the aroma leaves you to believe is layer upon layer of flavor. In general there is a tart and salty black pepper aroma similar to a Worcestershire sauce with hints of citrus, onion, garlic and chiles. The plus I see here is that with the slow growing burn of the Ghost Chile, instead of the immediate punch of a Scotch Bonnet, there should be plenty of time to enjoy the myriad of other sensations the aroma baits you in with. Even though there is some 7 Pot included, I hope it won’t overpower the slow growing burn.
The taste stays true to the hints from the aroma and you get a slightly salty and citrus flavor that has a nice pungency from black pepper, onion and garlic immediately, chased just after by a variety of flavors from the herbs and spices for a few seconds and then the heat starts to build up on you and sits on the front and back of the tongue at the same. The heat level is fairly intense, but all of the other components seem to be as equally intense, so that even at the peak of the burn, you pick up the savory and earthy elements in the background, so that you still get a lot of enjoyable flavor along with the heat. I’m a bit torn on the heat level rating for this one. The sauce, on it’s own, creeps in to the Madness territory after a few spoonfuls, however, there’s little chance that someone other than a crazy EatMoreHeat.com reviewer would use this on it’s own by the spoonful. With it’s thickness and intensity of flavor, you’re most likely to use it as a marinade or as an additive when cooking, which would dilute the heat level a bit, so it’s likely that when prepared it’s more in the strong Mean range, so I’m going to score it this way. The flavors are intense, arrive in an enjoyable order and the heat and flavor levels continue on for quite some time after consuming it and stimulate your taste buds in a variety of methods that balance out well, and with such a Notable flavor level, I’m already inventing in my head ways that I want to use this in some recipes, but before I go too far off center with the sauce I think I’m going to go the traditional route first and make a point of enjoying some old fashioned Caribbean food and taking some chicken quarters out of the fridge, fire up the barbeque and then going out on the backyard and Jerking my chicken.