Jerk noodles: Not a euphemism


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Dark jerk chicken and jerk pasta
Conducting a little recon on the west side this afternoon, I came across Eastman's Jerk Paradise in Austin, which makes the startling claim to be the "originator of jerk pasta and jerk stir-fry." Well, I couldn't let that stand without investigating. Turns out jerk pasta is simply rotini noodles tossed with green and red peppers, onions, carrots, and shredded jerk chicken. The noodles are a little mushy but I like them better than the chicken itself, which tasted roasted rather than smoked. But overall it wasn't too bad. It had a nice heat, fell off the bone, and was much improved by the vinegary jerk sauce. The rice and peas were terrific.

I can't verify Eastman's claims to be the creator of jerk pasta and stir-fry—there are a couple recipes out in Internetland—but they do have a whole section of the menu devoted to "Jam-international cuisine," which includes a jerk chicken taco, jerk turkey greens, jerk soup, jerk chicken lasagna, and Jamaican fried chicken. That's in addition to pretty much the whole canon of island food like curry goat and chicken, brown stew chicken, oxtails, jerked seafood, callaloo and saltfish, and a starch bomb known as "ground food" that includes dumplings, white yams, Irish potatoes, and green bananas. For the vegetarians there's the Bob Marley plate, which offers a choice of tofu, stew beans, stir-fried cabbage, and ackee, the national fruit of Jamaica. Enjoy it all in the nice bright-yellow dining room, under the benevolent, rheumy gaze of Tuff Gong.

Eastmans Jerk Paradise

Eastman's Jerk Paradise, 5952 W. North, 773-887-3236


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