In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

Jamaican Fish Tea (soup).

I know the title of the recipe will rub some people wrong in some way or the other, as every time I place a country’s name in one of my recipes, it’s just the norm. Hateful and sometimes ridiculous comments. Yes, throughout the Caribbean we have fish soup in one form or the other and they are usually very similar. For example, in Trinidad and Tobago (and many of the islands in the southern Caribbean) we have Fish Broff (broth).

You’ll Need…

1 fish head (about 2-3 lbs)
12 cups water
6-8 cups fish stock
3/4 tablespoon salt
1 onion (diced)
2 stalks celery (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (smashed)
6-8 sprigs thyme
3 med potatoes (cubed)
1 large sweet potato (cubed)
1-2 lbs pumpkin (cubed)
8-10 okra (chopped)
1 scotch bonnet pepper
2 small corn (cut into small pieces)
2 small carrots (diced)
1-2 lbs Jamaican yellow yam (diced)
6-8 pimento (allspice) berries
1/2 lime

May I recommend cubing the sweet potato, pumpkin, potato and yellow yam the same size for uniform cooking (time). In a traditional Jamaican Fish tea you’ll find that they use those packaged fish soup mixes (like Grace) and sometimes they may use all-purpose seasoning powder as well. I’m not the biggest fan of using such.

Prep the ingredients and set aside. I usually put the pumpkin, carrots, potatoes and yam in a bowl and cover it will cool water to prevent them from going discolored.

I’m using the head of a King Fish, but you can use your fav fish and if you’re concerned about the bones etc.. use boneless. Keep in mind that the true flavor will come from those bony parts. I washed the fish with the juice of a lemon (not mentioned in the ingredient list above) and cool water.

Put you big soup pot onto a high flame and go in with 12 cups of water. Place the fish into the pot as the water comes up to a boil, along with the thyme (see the video below for a lovely time), celery (leaves too), garlic, onion, salt, scallion and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.

It’s now time to add the body of the soup.. carrots, pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, Jamaican yellow yam and give it good stir. Top with the fish stock!

Float the Scotch Bonnet pepper, and try your best NOT TO BREAK IT or you’ll release the raw heat. Once you see it boiling, skim off any scum at the top (discard) and reduce to a simmer. Do add the pimento berries at this point.

After 14-20 minutes you can remove the thyme and you may also remove the scotch bonnet pepper now (we got the flavor from it) so you don’t risk breaking it. At this point I like removing the fish pieces out of the pot, remove the bones and add back the pieces of fish to the pot. It will take a few minutes and be sure it’s cool enough to handle.

Now add the okra and corn (I used Canadian sweet corn) and cook for (see my tip on fish stock addition in the video below) for 10 minutes and then get ready to personalize.. check and adjust the salt and if you like heat you can always break that Scotch Bonet pepper!

As you turn off the stove, add the lime juice and top with chopped parsley if you want. Serve hot and with a wedge of lime.

Be sure to tell everyone that they may encounter fish bones and should you have excess, be sure to freeze for a later date. See my tip on thawing/reheating in the video below.

I’m sure my Jamaican Fish Tea will be different than yours, but I can GUARANTEE YOU, it doesn’t lack in flavor! Drop me your comments below, tag me on Instagram and don’t forget you can now get my cookbook – The Vibrant Caribbean Pot, 100 Traditional And Fusion Recipes @

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  1. Steph
    April 15, 2023 / 3:36 pm

    Niceness. Would you consider taking the fish out before it starts to break down?

  2. Sarah Ouano
    January 31, 2023 / 10:11 am

    Hello! This Jamaican Fish Tea looks amazing. I am currently writing a children’s book on the many ways we eat (medical devices, utensils, our hands, etc), and one of my characters is a child in Jamaica whose grandmother makes fish tea on special occasions. Would you be willing to let me include your recipe for Fish Tea in the appendix of the book? I would love to give you source credit and a copy of the book for your family! Thanks for considering, Sarah Ouano, ND

    • admin
      February 2, 2023 / 10:15 am

      Hello Sarah, it’s Chris. Feel free to use it as long as credit to “Recipe is courtesy of Chris De La Rosa of” is given. All the best. Looking forward to seeing the end result. Chris

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