I visited a restaurant in Harlem called The Cecil this past week with a close homegirl. The Cecil serves a fusion of African, Asian, and American dishes. Nigerian suya was on the small plates menu and I had no idea what it was. I did not not order it, but the suya stuck in my mind to research later. I found out that suya is thin slices of beef grilled kebabs seasoned in a spicy peanut mixture. Suya is a common dish that can be found at ceremonial events and at a good old backyard BBQ. After my research, it occurred to me that I am an African American woman that knows very little about African food. It’s a forgotten heritage that a lot of African Americans don’t know they don’t know.
Adding jerk seasoning to apple cider vinegar.
I was inspired by the Nigerian suya to create this jerk pork skewers. Jerk is a traditional Jamaican spice mix in the form of a paste. It includes scotch bonnet peppers, allspice seeds, onions, scallions, garlic, nutmeg, and thyme. The brand I used in this recipe was Walker’s Wood Jerk Seasoning. It is the perfect blend of all the ingredients and is my favorite brand. I choose to use apple cider vinegar and ginger ale to mix with the jerk seasoning to marinade the pork. Pork is really lean and the apple cider breaks down the tissue to make it tender. The ginger ale adds a subtle ginger punch and sweetness.
Pour marinade over the meat. Soak skewers in water to prevent burning during grilling. I came up with this garlic guava dipping sauce to add a sweetness to the pork and cut the strong pepper flavor of the jerk. The garlic complements spice while the guava adds a candied component to the dish. Guava paste is typically found in the ethnic section of your local grocery store. It will take a while to dissolve, but once you add the vinegar and the water it should become easier.
- 1 pound pork tenderloin
- 2 tablespoons Walker's Wood Jerk Seasoning
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup ginger ale
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons guava paste
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1- 2 tablespoon water
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- vegetable oil
- If you are grilling outside prepare your grill ahead of time. If you are using a grill pan, you can warm it when you are close to cooking time
- Start by cutting your pork into thin cubes of meat. I have a 3-pound portion that I cut down into smaller chunks. Cubes should be about ½ inch thick.
- Combine apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon jerk seasoning, and ginger ale together.
- In a plastic or aluminum bowl add meat and pour in marinade. Place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
- Soak your skewers in cold water for 30 minutes while the pork is marinating to prevent them from burning during grilling.
- Remove pork from the refrigerator and discard the marinade. You will re-seasoning it with the remaining jerk seasoning and salt.
- Remove the skewers from the water and begin to slide the meat onto them. I had about 3 cubes of pork per skewer.
- If you are using a pan grill as I have, oil the ridges of the grill with vegetable oil and bring to a high heat. The pan will start to smoke. Make sure a window is open to release the excess smoke.
- Add skewers to the pan and grill on both sides for about 10 minutes each. You should get nice charcoal grilled marks on each side. Cooking time will slightly vary on a hotter outdoor grill, however, the color should be the same.
- Remove pork from grill and allow to rest
- For the garlic guava dipping sauce, sauté the minced garlic in a sauté pan on low to medium heat with olive oil until slightly golden.
- Add guava paste and begin breaking it down with a wooden spoon or fork.
- Add the 2 tablespoons of remaining vinegar and brown sugar to create a paste.
- If the paste starts to stick to the pan loosen it up water. Once the guava has completely dissolved remove from heat.
- Garnish the skewers and garlic guava dipping sauce with cilantro and slices of lime.