Tilapia’s a “Jerk” (Jerk Fish)

There are some foods that just get under your skin, you know? In a good way. Like these and this and this and this. I could go on and on! And Fall is the start of a whole new host of flavors to play with. Not to mention feelings to experience. You can tell it’s Fall when pumpkins start showing up on people’s door steps and even though it’s sunny outside, there is a definite chill in the air. Love it!
The other day I was feeling a little winteresque but wasn’t quite ready to give up the lightness of Summer yums. I peeked in the fridge and made a list of all the things that needed to get eaten and I noticed, I still had ground cherries from the CSA.
What WAS I going to do with them? Ground cherries remind me of gooseberries and cherries – both of which could make ultimate sauces, like here. They’re kind of sweet, kind of tart. So I threw together a jerk Tilapia dish, incorporating half the ground cherries into the marinade itself and using the other half to create a local jerk salsa to top it off. Jerk is a traditional Jamaican dry rub or wet marinade filled with spices and heat, often topped with mango and pineapple salsa. Typically it’s applied to chicken but I didn’t feel like chicken. I wanted fish – not over Summer entirely yet, remember? So I googled some shit. And as it turns out, wild Tilapia – a firm white fish meat that’s lean, mild, and sweet – is perfectly suited to this kind of treatment. 
And my goodness! What a happy ending this one turned out to be! Ow Ow! This definitely got under my skin. In a good way. It was warm, comforting, complex, and delicious yet light and refreshing too. Don’t be put off by all the ingredients – they’re mostly spices and stuff you’ll likely have in your pantry anyway and it’s really a rather quick process. You can buy jerk rub or marinade from the store but you aren’t going to get the same flavor you would had you made it yourself. So, here we go!
Tilapia's a Jerk
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  1. 4 Fillets of Wild Tilapia, patted dry and well seasoned with salt and pepper.
  2. Half Handful Ground Cherries, shucked, rinsed and patted dry.
  3. 3 Red Chiles, seeded (if you like less heat) and chopped.
  4. 3 Cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped.
  5. Small Handful of Chives, chopped.
  6. 2 Tbsp Ginger, peeled & finely grated.
  7. 1/2 Spanish Onion, chopped.
  8. Juice & Zest of 2 Limes.
  9. 2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme, stemmed.
  10. 2 Tbsp Ground All Spice.
  11. Big Pinch of Nutmeg.
  12. Big Pinch of Cinnamon.
  13. 1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika.
  14. 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar.
  15. 3 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar.
  16. 2 Tbsp Tamari Soy Sauce.
  17. 4 Tbsp Dark Rum (oh yeah, baby!).
  18. 1 Tbsp Orange Liquor.
  19. Black Pepper, finely ground to taste.
  20. Couple Glugs of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Throw all of the above (except the fish) into a food processor...
  3. ....and puree the crap out of it.
  4. Pour over and under and all over the fish in a baking dish and let sit for 30 minutes.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, remove, top with Ground Cherry & Apple Salsa and serve with Creamy Coconut Basmati Rice!
  6. Eat.
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