Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meats are dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. Jerk seasoning is traditionally applied to pork an...d chicken. Modern recipes also apply jerk spice mixes to fish, shrimp, shellfish, beef, sausage, and tofu. Jerk seasoning principally relies upon two items: allspice (called "pimento" in Jamaica) and Scotch bonnet peppers (among the hottest peppers on the Scoville scale). Other ingredients include cloves, cinnamon, scallions, nutmeg, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper.
Jerk chicken, pork, or fish originally was smoked over aromatic wood charcoal. Most jerk in Jamaica is no longer cooked in the traditional method and is grilled over hardwood charcoal in a steel drum jerk pan. The wood ("pimento wood"), berries, and leaves of the allspice plant among the coals contribute to jerk's distinctive flavor.