JB’s Soul Food and Jerk Chicken, Peckham

February 7, 2015


People find JB’s Soul Food and Jerk Chicken restaurant by “following the smoke trail” according to its owner, Jamaican-born Jennifer Hawes. This smoke is essential for good jerk – the Jamaican method of cooking meats, vegetables or seafood over a fire pit (ooooh) or grill (bit more convenient). Ingredients are marinated in a spiced, sweet and hot seasoning and then traditionally cooked over pimento wood in a hole in the ground. Nowadays people tend to use a jerk ‘drum’, a grill made from an oil drum mounted sideways. The cook lifts up the top half of the drum, fills it with coals and grills inside it. “Some people do it in the oven, says Jennifer, and some people do it BBQ but it’s not BBQ, it’s jerk, so it has to be on the drum.”

Jennifer’s husband does all the seasoning and grilling of the meat and I know to not bother asking for even a hint at his recipe, because a jerk cook will never share. The most important ingredients however, are no secret, “years ago” says Jennifer, “there wasn’t anything like all this chicken seasoning, all purpose seasoning…so in Jamaica, we used only natural seasonings: the spring onions, the onions, the thyme, the scotch bonnet chillies, the pimento seed (allspice berries), and garlic.” The quality of ingredients are very important to her still, and she has some of them brought from Jamaica, “we wanted to have the Jamaican taste…a lot of people {who} come in here, people who have been to Jamaica, even Jamaicans themselves say, this is it…and we want to keep it to that standard.”

Jennifer and Bill met in Jamaica, and came to Peckham in 1991, “you know you hear about places, that you want to come and see what it is like, for yourself” says Jennifer, “we had family here, so we came and we end up liking it.” The couple plan to open another restaurant in Peckham at some point, in a more central location, but they don’t want to be too hasty, “we’re not going to take on anything too big and elaborate we can’t manage, because it’s going well, so we don’t want to spoil it.” Her husband still works full time as a fabricator, so they see very little of each other. He comes and seasons the meat in the evening, while Jennifer works full time in the kitchen during the day. I just love cooking” she says, “I grew up with my mum cooking every day, and I used to watch what she does and you know, it’s just part of me.”

Jerk Chicken

They serve all the classics: curry goat, brown stew, ackee and salt fish, oxtail, jerk chicken and also pork on weekends. The jerk tastes like the real deal: smoke, sweetness, spice. There’s the unmistakable pimento buzz and the scotch bonnet poker. Jerk chicken is always cut into lots of pieces, right through the bone, and each piece at JB’s is juicy, charred by flicks of flame and shining with a final coating of sweet, spicy sauce.

JB’s Soul Food and Jerk Chicken
27A Peckham High Street
SE15 5EB

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  • Reply Alicia (foodycat) February 7, 2015 at 10:36 am

    Phwoar – that looks good!

  • Reply smirker February 10, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    It’s been a while since you found a jerk u liked… i’ll be heading over there this weekend!

    • Helen
      Reply Helen February 11, 2015 at 7:47 am

      Yeah, this is certainly the first decent one in Peckham for ages. Don’t go to Tasty Jerk in Elephant (not the same as the places in Croydon and Thorton Heath) – it’s awful. Worst I’ve ever had.

  • Reply Charlie February 15, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    I’m half Jamaican and I absolutely love the food, it reminds me of my childhood. May have to make the trip down to Peckham for this!

    • Helen
      Reply Helen February 17, 2015 at 12:19 am

      I still think the best place is Tasty Jerk, but it is in Thornton Heath!

      • Reply lilliput April 9, 2015 at 9:09 pm

        So is tasty jerk still open? I thought they were shut down for poor hygiene?

        • Helen
          Reply Helen April 10, 2015 at 9:27 am

          I think that was the Croydon branch? I can’t remember now but I think the Thornton Heath branch is still open yes.

  • Reply Torn Clark February 18, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    I had the occasion to visit this wonderful place last week – gotta tell you, the flavours are unparallel!

  • Reply Fergus Jordan February 22, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    That looks amazing, next time I am in London I will visit for sure.

  • Reply Drambow March 2, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Tasty Jerk in Thornton Heath is just Awesome!!!!!
    Nothing else to say

    • Helen
      Reply Helen March 2, 2015 at 6:57 pm

      I agree! My favourite.

  • Reply Ruth March 4, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Don’t laugh, but I’ve lived in the area for about the same amount of time you have (based on your other posts) and I have NEVER had jerk chicken. Part of the reason for this being your remarks that there was nowhere local that did it well. Time to try this place out, I think – it’s only a short walk from me.

    • Helen
      Reply Helen March 5, 2015 at 9:33 am

      Yeah the only good places just closed down suddenly. Weird! Give this place a go and let me know what you think.

    • Helen
      Reply Helen March 5, 2015 at 9:34 am

      I forgot to say, I would like to see them making their own hot sauce however.

  • Reply Ryan March 22, 2015 at 9:56 am

    I use to love eating here but suddenly the food has become way too spicy to eat. I’m not sure why they’re using so much pepper in their food. Maximum amounts of pepper is not Caribbean cuisine (I should know I’m from Westmoreland, Jamaica). When you cook Caribbean food you put the pepper to one side – usually in a bottle or container, doing this will allow the customer to choose how much pepper they actually want added to their food. People in the Caribbean only use loads of pepper when they’re trying to cover up the blandness of their food. The food here is excellent but unfortunately my family and I will have to eat elsewhere, the food is almost uneatable due to the loads of the pepper.

  • Reply Michael April 13, 2015 at 12:27 am

    I have recently discovered this place and wow I wish I found it sooner. The jerk smell drew me in first, I could smell it from a couple streets away! I really enjoyed it, it reminded me of the jerk chicken you get at notting hill carnival.
    I have also tried the curry goat and I won’t lie I was preparing for disappointment because I never really like curry goat but this one had so much flavour its become my new favourite jamaican dish. I will definitely recommend this place to anyone.

  • Reply James November 23, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Very good hygenine within the shop. The cleanliness of the shop is up to scratch. Lovely takeaway.

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