Jamaican Escovitch Fish

Jamaican Escovitch Fish on a dish
Overview of Jamaican Escovitch Fish on a plate
Close up of Jamaican Escovitch dressing picked up with a fork
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Jamaican Escovitch Fish is a Caribbean twist on the colonial dish, Escabeche, where the fish is cooked in a spice-infused sauce. However, in Jamaica the fish is first fried whole, and then covered in a mixture of vegetables that have been cooked in a vinegary sauce. The fish is then allowed to marinate in this mixture before serving with rice or a local flatbread made with cassava called Bammy. The combination of the fried fish covered with a briny tangy sauce of local herbs, spices and fresh vegetables really encompass the dynamic flavors and cultural mixtures of our Caribbean region.

Author: Rachel Ottier-Hart
Average: 4.9 (9 votes)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins


Escovitch Sauce


Frying the Fish - Traditionally the fish for this dish should be deep fried using a large heavy pot or deep fryer that is large enough to hold the entire fish or the entire fish fillet. It should be filled with enough oil to allow the fish to be full
In a large bowl, add lime juice and enough water to thoroughly wash and rinse the fish.
Whole snapper being rinsed in a bowl of water
Pat the fish dry removing all excess water with paper towels.
Whole snapper on a cutting board being patted dry with a paper towel
Along the skin side of the fish, cut 3-4 slashes into the flesh; this will help the seasonings penetrate the meat and prevent the fish from curling during frying.
Overview of a whole snapper on a cutting board with a knife slicing the skin
Rub the fish thoroughly with the green seasoning and Old Bay to ensure the fish is thoroughly coated.
Snapper on a cutting board being rubbed with seasoning
Prepare a cooling station for fried fish with a tray topped with a cooling rack or paper towels to collect the excess oil.
Sideview of a lined baking sheet with a cooling rack on top
Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot on the stovetop or your set-up a deep fryer filled with your preferred oil to 325 °F. Gently place the fish into the hot oil and allow the fish to cook. 3-5 minutes for whole fish or 2-3 minutes for filets, per side. Once the intensity of the bubbles decreases and the fish is a golden brown, it is done!
Whole fish being fried in a pot of oil
Remove to a cooling station and allow the fried fish to rest for 2-3 minutes before arranging in a serving dish.
Whole fried fish on top of a cooling rack
Escovitch Sauce
Using a deep saute pan, add 3 tablespoons of the oil to fry the fish and warm on medium to high heat.
Sideview of a wok with oil heating up
Once the oil is hot, add the onion, seasoning peppers, and carrot to the pan and toss cooking until the onions turn translucent (2-3 minutes).
Vegetables being stirred with a wooden spoon in a wok
Add the garlic, bell peppers, ginger, tarragon, allspice, black pepper, coriander, bay leaf, and cloves and sauté for another minute.
Spices and seasonings being mixed into vegetables in a wok using a wooden spoon
Spicy Option: Add scotch bonnet peppers along with other vegetables in Step 3.
Add the vinegar and brown sugar, stir using a spoon to incorporate all ingredients and dissolve the sugar thoroughly.
Vinegar and sugar being added to a wok of vegetables
Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for another 5 minutes or until all vegetables are tender.
Escovitch simmering in a covered wok
Once the vegetables are tender, remove from the heat and add salt to taste.
Seasoning being added to Escovitch vegetables
While still hot, scoop the vegetables and sauce on top of the fish. Serve with rice or Bammy flatbread.
Sideview of a completed plate of Jamaican Escovitch Fish

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