One of the things I looked forward too the entire trip to Jamaica was the FISH. From the jerk, to them being steamed with okra and crackers to my favorite… escovitch! Red Snapper (or Parrot fish) seasoned, perfectly fried, then topped with the spicy pickled dressing known as escovitch sauce. For most the thin slices of Scotch Bonnet were to be avoided, but they were like little prizes between the sweet peppers, scallions, onions and other ingredients in the vinegar based sauce. Any trip to the Caribbean is more than just a homecoming, it’s a culinary extravaganza for me and Jamaica did not disappoint!
3 red snapper
pinch sea salt
pinch black pepper
3 sprigs thyme
celery leaves (optional)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 large shallot
1/4 red onion sliced thin
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper (no seeds)
6 pimento berries (allspice)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 sprig thyme
Note: If doing this recipe gluten free, be sure to go through the entire list of ingredients to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary needs.
Wash, clean and pat dry the Red Snapper (I used relatively small fish – on sale). Then I gave then a couple shallow cuts along the belly to allow for the dressing to penetrate after grilling and to help cook faster while grilling as well. Open up the belly cavity and stuff with a sprig of thyme, a piece of scallion and the leaves of the celery (if you have any). Then sprinkle some black pepper and salt on the surface (you can do the same with the cavity if you want, but I’m trying to cut back on my salt intake) of the fish. The final step is to drizzle on some olive oil on the fish (evenly on both sides) so they don’t stick onto the grill.
I would recommend making the escovitch dressing (sauce) about and hour or two in advance so it can marinate in it’s own juices and all the flavors can come together. Basically all you’re doing is slicing all the ingredients very thinly (add the celery and shallot though they’re not traditional – great texture and flavor), add it to a bowl, then go in with the sugar, salt, pimento berries, lemon juice and vinegar. Give it a god mix and place in the fridge. Optionally you can add some thinly sliced bell peppers to the mix if you want.
Remove the dressing out of the fridge about 1/2 hr before you start grilling the fish so it comes back to room temperature (you can also place it in a pan and warm in on the grill if you really want). Brush your grill grates with a bit of veg oil so the fish does not stick (no matter it may still stick) and grill as you would normally do. I did mine directly over a medium flame (coals fire) as I wanted some charred bits and I gave it about 4-5 minutes on each side. Have the escovitch dressing next to your grill as you’ll need it as soon as you take the grilled fish off the fire.
Have a platter ready and as soon as the cooked fish come off the grill, pour the escovitch dressing directly over the fish! The warm fish will brighten-up the flavors of the sauce and really heighten what I believe is the best way to dress grilled fish!