Wah Gwan Seasonings by Chef Marcus Anthony

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Wah Gwan Seasonings by Chef Marcus Anthony

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Thursday, November 19, 2020

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I know I'm home when I hear 'Wah gwan'! Home to me means being in the kitchen sharing the gift of cooking. It was only right that my seasoning company and signature all purpose seasoning be named Wah Gwan. Jamaican culture exudes happiness and love and all of that emotion can be felt in the greeting of Wah Gwan
— Marcus Anthony

Marcus Anthony's stomping ground as a youngster was Long Island, NY. His Jamaican parents, dad Ronald Davis (now deceased) and mum Deloris Nelson Davis, however, ensured his heritage remained top of mind.

“I grew up in Long Island, New York while maintaining deep roots in Jamaica, he tells Thursday Food. “My father was from Trench Town and my mother from St Andrew. They both migrated to the US on different paths but ended up meeting in Queens, New York, at my mother's cousin's who was a mutual friend of my father.

“My father, a welder, joined his brother working on large tanker ships travelling the world. I, too, followed in my father's footsteps becoming a second-generation steamfitter.”

It would not be, even after 19 years, Anthony's final career stop. Welding was his primary passion, be it at the top of a skyscraper or deep underground at One World Trade Center. Food, was at that time his second.

The self-taught chef was inspired by the late great Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert, plus several not-so-well-known culinarians and too, by travel. “Cooking is a simple formula of knowledge... stepping out of your comfort zone will reward you with a new kind of power” became his raison d'etre. Indeed, his power and confidence would come from childhood years spent stalking the kitchens of his friends' parents, especially when they were from Haiti or other Caribbean islands where cooking styles differed from the Jamaican traditions of his home.

“I didn't realise it until years later, but I was always studying food, flavours and techniques. I had, too, been testing and trying blends of spices thinking there must be an all-purpose seasoning that bridges cultural and situational cooking... I wanted a blend that I could season my tacos and pasta with and sprinkle over eggs in the morning,” he continued.

The gift, several years ago, of sweet, smoked Spanish paprika and dried yellow Scotch bonnet pepper was the kick that was missing. “My cooking always included Scotch bonnet; I mean, I'm Jamaican and love spice! Paprika, as well, was a staple. What happened though when these spices were combined and blended with a handful of other spices was nothing short of incredible!” he noted.

Anthony has pressed pause on welding and now works full-time as a chef and educator in the media arena creating video content. His Wah Gwan seasoning product line was formed around his primary all-purpose seasoning, Wah Gwan. In addition to the all-purpose seasoning there's his signature Dry Brine, G Salt (finishing salt) and 100 % pure dried Scotch bonnet pepper powder.

The full line of products are available for purchase at marcusanthonytable.com.

Wah Gwan Jerk Chicken
Ingredients:
2 whole chickens split in half down the top and spine.
4 tbsp Wah Gwan
4 tbsp Dry Brine
4 limes
2 bottles of beer for basting (ideally Jamaican beer)

Jerk marinade:
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 bunch scallions
1 large piece of ginger, sliced
1 bulb garlic cloves, peeled
6 sprigs fresh thyme
10 pimento leaves, if available
6 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
1 fresh Scotch bonnet pepper
2 cups of soy sauce
2 tbsp Worcheshire sauce
cup fresh lime juice
4 tbsp Jamaican dark rum
2 cups olive oil

MAT Wah Gwan citrus jerk glaze
cup olive oil
cup reserved jerk marinade
2 tbsp Wah Gwan
bulb of garlic
cup Jamaican dark rum
cup beer
cup espresso
cup honey
cup maple syrup
1 peel from a lime
cup citrus juice tangerine orange
cup cubed mango

Method:
Place the chickens on a clean work surface and season generously with Dry Brine and Hot Wah Gwan (if you are sensitive to heat, my regular Wah Gwan is perfect) on both sides. Rub the seasoning all over. Slice the limes in half and squeeze the juice from the lime over the chicken, using the limes to rub the lime juice in thoroughly. Optimally, this will sit overnight; however, you can move on to the next step if needed.
Jerk marinade

Place all of the marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend well. Pour the marinade into a bowl or jar and set aside. Save the extra marinade in the fridge for up to one month or seal and freeze for up to six months.

In a large bowl, pour your jerk marinade and place your chickens on top. Rub the marinade all over the chickens making sure to coat the inside and outside of each one. Cover and place in your fridge for a minimum of 4 hours but optimally 8-24 hrs.

Long, slow cook

If using pimento leaves, soak enough in water to make a leaf bed for your chicken. (NB: I get pimento leaves shipped straight from Jamaica because I'm always striving for that true Jamaican jerk flavour. You can absolutely skip this step and your jerk will still taste amazing.)
Set your smoker to 225F or if using a charcoal or propane grill, prepare for offset cooking.

Cover the grates with pimento leaf and place your chicken on top. Insert an instant read thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken and close your grill.

Monitor your heat over the course of the 8 hours to optimally get an internal temperature of 165F.

Periodically, baste your chicken with the extra marinade and splashes of your favourite beer.

For the last 30 minutes of cooking, baste with the jerk glaze.

Smoke for as long as you like but once the temperature is at 165F the chicken is ready. The ideal colour is a dark amber brown with crispy edges. This takes time, but it's so worth it.

Remove the chicken from the grill and place on a cutting board. Chop handful size pieces and serve with your favourite sides.

Wah Gwan citrus jerk glaze

In a pot on medium heat, add olive oil. Bring to temp and add marinade. Cook for 2 minutes two cook the rawness out of the marinade. Add Wah Gwan and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, then add garlic clove cut side down. Cook for another minute or so then add all of the next ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium high and let the glaze thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mediterranean-inspired Grilled Fish

Who says you don't have time to make dinner? I have waited in line at Shake Shack longer than it takes to make this!

Sometimes, a cooking vessel can make all the difference when making a meal. The pan that has changed my life is a small, oval shaped, stainless, BBQ grill tray. I started using this to broil single or double servings of food and the results are always amazing and the path of least resistance to cooking and cleaning up after. One-pot or one-pan cooking is always appealing because it's self-contained; all of your ingredients marry with minimal effort and clean-up is a snap! I love to use the broiler in the oven which allows for browning while a sauce is being made from the other ingredients surrounding your protein. Though we are talking about an easy and tasty fish recipe, this is also about the process of combining simple flavours that will blow your guests away. Or blow your own mind if eating for one!

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Servings: 2

Ingredients:
1 lb of your favourite fresh fish fillet (my favourites are sea bass, snapper or barramundi)
1 large shallot or quarter of an onion
3 cloves of garlic, less or more depending on your taste
3-4 fresh tomatoes, cored and diced
1 lemon
2-3 splashes of olive oil
Herbs — dill, thyme, parsley, oregano or whatever is fresh and your favourite. You can't mess this up.
2 tbsp Wah Gwan
Salt and pepper to taste.

Method:
Turn oven on broil-high.
Grab your grill trays and the fish, whichever fish you like. Keep in mind, the more you crowd your tray or pan, the more steam it will make during the cooking process; this leads to less browning and more boiling. Remember, you can always divide this dish into two trays or if you don't have multiple trays, use a shallow pan or baking dish.
Next, pour a nice splash of olive oil in your tray. If your fish is a fillet with the skin on, score your skin, with a few 1'' slits.

When cooking a light fish, I season with salt, pepper and a light sprinkle of Wah Gwan. When seasoning anything, sprinkle from up high to get even distribution and also rub a bit of seasoning into the slits. Turn fish over and do the same. Rub your fish around in the oil and lay your fillet skin side up in your tray.

Next, in a mixing bowl add chopped shallot or onion, the tomatoes, minced garlic and chopped herbs, ideally fresh herbs if they are available and some zest from a lemon. I tend to use parsley, thyme, oregano and dill. In your bowl give a thorough mix and add a splash of olive oil and salt and pepper. Season lightly with each step to build on the flavour.

Spoon this mixture around your fish and a bit on top but spread out so you see the fish with bits of mixture throughout. We want the top to brown so leave the fish skin upright and exposed to the heating element. Place your oven grates in the middle rack and turn your broiler on high. Once the oven is heated and the broiler is at temperature, place your trays in the oven on the middle rack, close the door, and let the magic happen.

Turn your oven light on if you can and monitor it through the process. This should take about 10 min depending on the thickness of your fish and your preferred cooking temperature of the fish. I love to pull my fish just slightly underdone since it will still continue to cook after it's out of the oven. I always buy the freshest fish at the market for this reason. I love these trays so much I bring them straight to the table and serve with slices of lemon.

Enjoy!


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