Jamaican Escovitch Fish Recipe

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Jamaican Escovitch Fish on a dish

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.

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Time & Serves

Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins


  • 1.5 kg Red Snapper (whole fish or filets)

  • 1 Lime or 2 tablespoons of Juice

  • 1 tablespoon Green Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning

  • 500 ml Frying Oil (soy or peanut)

Escovitch Sauce
  • 1 White Onion, peeled and thinly sliced 

  • 2 Large Seasoning Peppers, julienne

  • 1 Medium Carrot, peeled and julienne

  • 3 large cloves of Garlic, sliced

  • 1 Bell Pepper, cored, seeds removed & julienne (any color)

  • 1 thumb Peeled Ginger, julienne

  • 3 Sprigs of Tarragon, chopped

  • 9 Whole Allspice Berries

  • 9 Whole Black Peppercorns

  • 9 Whole Coriander Seeds

  • 1 Large Bay Leaf

  • 3 Whole Cloves

  • 400ml Vinegar (white, apple cider, rice, red/white wine or malt)

  • 1 tablespoon Brown Sugar

  • Salt To taste

  • Spicy Option: 1-2 Scotch Bonnet Peppers seeded & sliced

  • 3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil 


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
Rachael Ottier Hart

Join Rachael on a global culinary journey. With a passion for travel and diverse cuisines, she crafts recipes that weave flavors, scents, and stories into each dish, igniting your wanderlust with every bite.

More posts by Rachael Ottier Hart

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fried red snapper recipes, escovich fish recipe, jamaican fish, escovitch fish, jamaican seafood

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Rachael Ottier Hart

Join Rachael on a global culinary journey. With a passion for travel and diverse cuisines, she crafts recipes that weave flavors, scents, and stories into each dish, igniting your wanderlust with every bite.

More posts by Rachael Ottier Hart