If you go
Gail’s Caribbean Cuisine that her jerk chicken and Trinidad curry chicken are not going to scorch the roof of my mouth.
In fact, the dishes pack plenty of the roasted chilies earthy flavor without being incendiary. If you want the full-wattage pepper, however, she provides it on the side. A little goes a long way.
Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica but widely adapted across the Caribbean. If it looks like barbecue, well, it is: Meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a spice mix that’s primarily allspice and those sneaky Scotch bonnet peppers. The seasoning is traditionally used on pork and chicken, but it finds its way to fish, beef, sausage, veggies and even tofu.
Other jerk-spice ingredients may include cloves, cinnamon, spring onions, cinnamon, nutmeg, thyme, garlic brown sugar, ginger and salt.
Another hard-to-find flavor is sorrel ( jamaica in Spanish), which comes from a small type of hibiscus flower. It packs a distinctive tart punch and a rich red glow, which find their way into a robust rum cocktail now on offer at her venture in The Hatchery.
On offer are sharable platters of Trinidad chicken curry with coconut cream, pork-rib stew, curried sweet corn and channa aloo (curried chickpeas and potatoes). You can also order i ndividual meal plates for about 70 yuan ($10): choose one of the above entrees (or jerk tofu) and enjoy with sides of stewed red beans, rice and peas, pickled pineapple chow and coleslaw.
That’s a generous amount of food that may not leave room for dessert, but we’re glad we were convinced to try it. Rum and raisin ice cream arrives on a round of spiced rummed pineapple and dusted with allspice and coconut. You’ ll want to lick the empty plate before they take it away.
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From 6 pm daily through mid-January at The Hatchery, 88 Dongsi 9th Alley, Dongcheng district, Beijing. 010-8950-8065.
Above: Trinidad chicken curry with coconut milk is a crowd favorite. Left: Gail Ramroop with Hatchery chef David Ball.