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Jamaican Style Escovitch Fish.

This Jamaican style escovitch fish takes be back 21 years, when my friends and I would head down to Toronto to shop for records (remember 45′s and 33′s?) for our aspiring DJ business. That trip usually had us end up in the Jamaican community on Eglinton Ave where there were not only many record stores selling the latest dancehall tracks from Jamaica, but quite a few restaurants where we would get our curry goat, rice and peas and this lovely escovitch fish.

Over the years I’m had the opportunity to sample escovitch fish from many sources (even in Jamaica), but I have to admit that this recipe I’m about to share is as classic as it gets and I’m sure you’ll be quite please with the results.


You’ll Need…

1 Red Snapper (about 2 lbs)
1 scallion (green onion/spring onion)
3 sprigs thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 lime
Vegetable oil for frying (about 1 cup)


3/4 cup vinegar
1/4 teaspoon allspice (see note below)
1 large onion
1 carrot
1 cup green pepper
1 scotch bonnet pepper
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon white sugar

Notes: I used the entire scotch bonnet pepper (including seeds). You can control the heat by using less and by not including the seeds. Typically pimento berries (allspice) are used in the sauce, but all I had available is the ground allspice. By adding the sugar it really balances the escovitch sauce, so though it may sound strange.. give it a try. If you don’t have a lime for washing the fish, you can use the juice of a lemon or a couple tablespoons of vinegar.

Clean and trim your fish even if your fishmonger already scaled it, do pass a knife over it to ensure there are no scales. Then pour the juice of the lime over it, give it a massage, then rinse with cool water and pat dry. Then using a sharp knife cut a couple slits across the belly of the fish (both sides) as you see in the picture below. This will allow for faster cooking and to help the salt, black pepper as well as the escovitch sauce to really infuse the fish.

Using the back of your knife hit the scallion to bruise it a bit to release it’s flavor, then fold it and tuck into the cavity of the fish. Also add the springs of thyme.. we want to perfume the fish from the inside as it cooks. Now rub the salt and black pepper onto the fish (both sides) and get ready to fry.

Make sure to pat your fish dry after you washed it as I mentioned earlier, or you will have a lot of hot oil splattering when you start the frying process. Heat the vegetable oil on a medium flame, then gently add the seasoned fish to the pan. Allow this cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until you have a nice golden colour and crisp outside. You’ll need tongs and a fork or spoon to flip the fish.. do be careful as we’re working with hot oil.

Remove from the pan and place on paper towels to soak up some of the excess oil

Next up it’s time to put the escovitch sauce together. Julienne the carrot, sweet pepper (use different colours if you like) and chop the onion and scotch bonnet pepper (slice thin.

In a saucepan add all the ingredients for the sauce, then place on medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Allow this to simmer for 3-5 minutes.. basically until the onion and sweet pepper (bell pepper) gets a bit tender. Here’s is where you can personalize this sort of pickle a bit. I like my sauce with a bit of crunch so I cooked it for 3 minutes.. you can cook for longer if you wish.

I know the average person from the Caribbean reading this recipe will shake their head thinking.. “vinegar”?  Vinegar is not something we use  or like in foods in most of the Caribbean (except for washing meats). But I assure you that the raw taste of the vinegar will be infused with the lovely flavors of the pimento (allspice) and the vegetables we add. The hint of sugar will also give it a sort of sweet and sour kick, which works well on the fish.

Place the fried snapper on a platter and pour the excovitch sauce all over it.. enjoy! You can store any remaining escovitch sauce in the fridge for a couple weeks.

Back in those days we never had enough money to get a fish each, so it usually meant sharing a plate with each other… the little extra money we had went to getting the latest Shabba Ranks record. Good times for sure! My good friend still does the DJ thing (he’s very passionate about music) and have made it into a huge business for him.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the latest cooking videos, connect with me on twitter and join our community on facebook. oh yea! leave me a comment below – it’s appreciated.

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29 Responses to “Jamaican Style Escovitch Fish.”

  1. Rebekah says:

    HI chris how mch is it for a snapper and is there another fish you can use as an alternative

  2. Ms. Lady says:

    Hello Chris, I am an American lady cooking for a Jamacian man, I love your authentic jamacian recipes. Whenever we have a taste for island food I follow your recipes. I was just wondering Do you have a recipe for carribean conch fritters/ conch balls with a dipping sauce? If you do can you post it? I am going to try this snapper recipe sometime this week for the family. And like everything else I know its going to be wonderful. Thank you soooooo much for your time explaining step by step. You are the best!

  3. caroline says:

    Great Job – Thanks

  4. stephyb says:

    Chris, this looks real interesting. I have to try it your way for the easter holiday coming up. Love how you put the thyme inside the fish. Can’t wait.

  5. Momma says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to educate your audience! You Rock Chris! Thank you to your wife as well for helping to support you while you spend time in the kitchen teaching us about some of the most flavorful food I have ever eaten!

    Rock on Brother!

  6. spicy trini says:

    Chris, try 1/2 cup vinegar plus 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. This mixture takes your recipe to another level. The taste is the bomb.

  7. Sandra Carter says:

    Hey Chris, do you hear that?? You hit the ball out the park again. I am a Trinidadian that loves Escovitch fish. Love, love, love this recipe. Thanks you.

  8. gmatic says:

    Fabulous explanation of an Escovitch fish. Your story along with your recipe is an inspiration among inspirations. I’ll be trying this one soon as I get paid.

  9. jennie says:

    I just returnrn home to California from a 8 day stay in Jamaica I’m originally from NYC so I have eaten lots of Caribbean foods but it was nothing like the freshest of the food in Jamaica so I had to cook some escovitch fish one of my favorites dishes and I must say this recipe hit it right my pic looks just like yours and the taste mmm…good will make for company now omg….delicious

  10. loraine says:

    HEy Chris, did that escovich fish yesturday,had to omit tha pepper but, twaz tasty,keep sending those good recipes, also tried that coconut fried plantain good also

  11. yvonne says:

    Chris, your recipes deserve 3 gold stars…my hubby licks him fingers, my daughta comes home 4 tea instead of eating kfc! We luv u 4 sharing…recipes r amazing x

  12. Sojourner truth says:

    I love the way you taught this dish with such clarity. Thank you so much. It is greatly appreciated. Keep doing what your doing!! Sista!!!

  13. cinzia merlot says:

    hey Chris… I am going to Jamaica for six weeks to set up our winter home… next year it will be for six months… I am trying to learn to cook the Jamaican way… thanks for your site… love the fish! Can't wait to make it for a friend that was born on the island but now lives in Canada.. will let you know how I do with it.


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