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Jackass Corn

I heard about jackass corn when I was younger but I don’t remember seeing let alone trying it. Lacking any context, I imagined it was a variety of corn – one that jackasses liked to eat. I know that’s pretty literal but what else could I think?

I hadn’t thought of or heard about jackass corn until sometime last year when my friend, Sandra, and I walked into 14 Parish Restaurant, a small take out spot in Hackensack, NJ. The typical assortment of sweets  – rock buns, gizzadas, grater cakes – sat on display in a glass case on the counter but there was one item I didn’t recognize. Curious, I asked what it was.

Jackass Corn

J

I chided the young cashier for not knowing and he went back to the kitchen to ask.

“It’s jackass corn,” he said when he returned, his face still wearing a puzzled look.

Jackass (or donkey) corn is a hard biscuit made of flour, water, coconut milk, and nutmeg. It is rolled flat, cut into rectangles and baked. According to the Dictionary of Jamaican English, it’s called jackass corn because when you eat it, it sounds like the sound a donkey makes when it’s eating corn.

Jackass Corn
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  7. 3 tablespoons water
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, sugar, nutmeg and salt. Stir in the coconut. Add the water and mix, forming a very stiff dough that will not crumble.
  2. Roll out the dough on a floured board to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut the dough into small rectangles. Place the pieces onto a greased cookie sheet and prick each one with a fork. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a plate to cool.
Adapted from Lucinda's Authentic Jamaican Kitchen
Adapted from Lucinda's Authentic Jamaican Kitchen
InsideJourneys http://insidejourneys.com/
Jackass corn used to be a popular snack enjoyed by school children as well as adults. It fell out of favor perhaps because it’s likely seen as irrelevant, or unsophisticated next to prepared snacks like potato chips and Cheese Trix.

But one of the unforeseen and unintended impacts of migration is that Jamaicans, like other immigrant communities, cling to the traditions that keep them connected to home. One of the many food items they hold on to is jackass corn, which explains why it would be available for sale in a small restaurant in New Jersey.

As I expected, the owner said he sells mostly to people of a certain age. Since I’d never tried them, I handed over $2 for two biscuits which came wrapped tightly in plastic. My aunt couldn’t believe it when I told her what I had found.

I couldn’t bring myself to eat my treat right away and kept the jackass corn for almost a week before finally ripping off the plastic. I tried the first one.  It was slightly sweet, with a hint of nutmeg, crisp but not as hard as I expected. I made a cup of tea, fresh mint, and had the second one. You can also have jackass corn on its own as a snack.

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For more recipes, check out Lucinda Scala Quinn’s cookbook, Lucinda’s Authentic Jamaican Kitchen

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Comments

  1. You had me at coconut and nutmeg! Those are two of my favorite flavors. What a great find, and it sounds extremely easy to make.
    Nancie recently posted..Korean Dakkochi for Foodie TuesdayMy Profile

  2. It’s great what immigration does to the world culinary scene, isn’t it? I love little discoveries like this one. I’ve linked up a post today that’s not exactly food, but closely related, WINE, I hope this is OK!
    Phoebe recently posted..Roquefort and Beyond: A Local Wine GuideMy Profile

  3. I can honestly say I have never heard of jackass corn. Ya gotta love reading blogs, you learn something every day!
    Patti recently posted..If Every Grain Held a Story ~My Profile

  4. You’re right, Phoebe, food is definitely closely related to wine. Not a problem at all.
    Thanks for linking up!

  5. It sure doesn’t look that difficult, Nancie, though I haven’t tried it yet. Let me know if you do.

  6. It’s interesting that as people get globalizedand so is their traditinal food. I never head of jackass corn before. I’d like to try it if I see one. I tend ot like things with coconut and nutmeg.
    Marisol recently posted..Panama: A Visit to an Embera Tribe VillageMy Profile

  7. Where else am I going to find out about jackass corn?! You’re always full of fascinating foodie lore. 🙂 The combiination of coconut and nutmeg sounds delicious. Here in Grenada (just for a week) I’m finding that nutmeg tastes very good on just about everything. It’s even in the salad vinaigrette here.
    Lesley Peterson recently posted..Postcards from GrenadaMy Profile

  8. Hahaha, nutmeg is a fabulous flavor but I’ve not had it in a salad vinaigrette. Interesting. I’m sure you’ll be bringing some of it home.

  9. Yes, we do travel with our foods. I still remember the days when I’d bring back foods (let’s face it, they taste much better) from home whenever I visit. Now, we can get most of the same foods here.