Cast Iron

Citrus Jerk Bass with Fonio

June 28, 2018
3 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

This recipe is featured in the story, This Smoky, Citrusy Grilled Bass Is an Homage to My Great-Aunt's Jerk Seasoning, sponsored by Bosch.

Jerk dishes take me back, way back. First to my great-aunt, whose cooking connects me to the West Indies every time I get a taste of pork or chicken that's been dry rubbed with that island mix. The irony is that as a kid, growing up in a family that hailed from Barbados and Puerto Rico, I didn't really like island food. I wanted to eat American food like meat loaf and spaghetti.

But once I became a chef, I fell in love with all the flavors I grew up with. This is basically my homage to my aunt's recipe. All I've done here is add citrus to it to brighten up the flavors. JJ Johnson

Test Kitchen Notes

Reprinted with permission from Between Harlem and Heaven by JJ Johnson and Alexander Smalls, copyright © 2017. Published by Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan.
—The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Citrus Jerk Bass with Fonio
  • For the Citrus Jerk Bass:
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, whole
  • 1/4 Scotch bonnet pepper, chopped with seeds, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 (4-ounce) bass fillets, skin on and descaled
  • Fonio
  • For the Fonio:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup small-diced shallots
  • 1/2 cup sliced okra
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup fonio, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup torn Thai basil
  1. For the Citrus Jerk Bass:
  2. Combine all the ingredients except the fish and fonio in a blender and puree until smooth and completely combined.
  3. Take the fish and lightly score the skin diagonally in four places with a sharp knife, making sure not to cut too deeply. Place the fish in a nonreactive container with a lid and cover with the jerk marinade. Cover and refrigerate for no more than 2 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F and put a cast-iron grill pan in the oven to heat until it's very hot (test by sprinkling a drop of water on the pan to see if it sizzles).
  5. Remove the fish from the marinade and pat dry. Place in the hot pan skin side down and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook for 5 more minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  6. Remove from the pan and serve over fonio.
  1. For the Fonio:
  2. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sweat the ginger, garlic, and shallots and cook for 3 minutes, until the onion becomes translucent. Add the okra and tomatoes.
  3. When the tomatoes burst, add the fonio and stir with the vegetables to coat. Add 1 1/2 cups of water, bring to a simmer, cover tightly with the lid, and turn the heat to low. Cook for about 20 minutes.
  4. Fluff with a fork and let it steam for 5 minutes. Stir in the torn Thai basil.

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JJ Johnson

Recipe by: JJ Johnson

James Beard-nominated chef, cookbook author, and co-founder of InGrained Hospitality

2 Reviews

Jennifer N. June 14, 2020
Excellent made with corvina. Should have served homemade ginger beer with it. We will be making this again! Thanks!
Jennifer N. June 14, 2020
Yum! The only thing i did’t have was okra, but that would have been over the top amazing! We served it with a collards salad. My husband and i are going to try the recipe with shrimp and chicken. We used corvina. Really enjoyed this. Should have cracked open one of our home brewed ginger beers to go with it. Thank you!