Authentic Jamaican Escovitch Fish

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Caribbean food is just an amazing and underrated cuisine. Today, I bring you a hidden Jamaican gem: Escovitch Fish.

Easy and flavorful dinner idea that will make you feel like in a beachfront restaurant. It has bold flavors that are combined harmoniously.

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What is Escovitch fish?

It’s basically a whole fish fried. It’s seasoned with all-purpose seasoning: black pepper, paprika, onion, and garlic powder. A powerful seasoning mix.

The wow factor of this recipe is the pickle vegetables that are used as a garnish for the fish. These vegetables are sweet and sour while keeping some degree of crunchiness.

These vegetables have a kind of spicy sauce that will soak the fish and give that pungent flavor of escovitch fish.

What type of fish do you need?

This recipe calls for snapper, especially red snapper.

As you may know from my fried fish recipe, I’m in love with red snappers. Sadly, I don’t always find fresh red snapper in my local grocery store.

The day I took these photos I used yellowtail snapper. It turns out just as yummy.

The snapper family is super diverse, so you have a wide variety to choose from.

Snapper has lean and firm meat that is perfect for frying and baking it.

What are scotch bonnet peppers? 

Scotch bonnet peppers are a spicy type of pepper that is common in the Caribbean island.

It’s a bit spicier than regular habaneros or malaguetas. It has a sweet taste that makes it great for sauces.

It can be kind of difficult to find in the US and Europe. As always, I believe in swapping ingredients and not making a big deal of it. If you get scotch bonnet pepper, that’s great for this recipe. If not, consider the next options:

  • 1 habanero
  • 1 malagueta
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder

For those that don’t tolerate spicy food, you can just pierce the pepper and, at the end of the cooking process, remove it. This way it will release some spiciness but you won’t have the chance to eat a spicy piece of pepper.

And for my spicy people, just cut the pepper into tiny slices and enjoy. 

Spice mix
Seasoning the fish

Recommended Jamaican Recipes

5 from 1 vote
Escovitch Fish
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins
Caribbean food is just an amazing and underrated cuisine. Today, I bring you a hidden Jamaican gem: Escovitch Fish.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Caribbean, Jamaican
Keyword: escovitch fish
Servings: 4 people
Fried fish
  • 4 medium-size snappers (note 1)
  • 1 lime
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 8 spring onions sprigs
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose seasoning
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • ½ tbsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tbsp onion powder
  • ½ tbsp garlic powder
  • ½ tbsp oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper (note 2)
  • ½ medium-size red bell pepper (note 3)
  • ½ medium-size yellow bell pepper
  • ½ medium-size green bell pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 tbsp peppercorn
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Cover the cleaned snappers with lime juice. In a small bowl mix all the spices (except the spring onion and the thyme sprigs). Season the fish with this mix. Make sure it is well coated. Place 1 sprig of thyme and two of spring onions inside each fish (see the picture above). Let it marinate in the fridge for 1 hour at least. I would recommend overnight.
  2. Cut the onion, bell peppers and carrot into thick julienne. Pierce the scotch bonnet pepper with a knife. Cut the garlic cloves into slices.
  3. In a pot add the vinegar, sugar, peppercorn, and thyme. Let it boil. Lower the temperature to medium heat.
  4. Toss the carrot and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Then add the rest of the vegetables. Let it simmer for 5 minutes until the onion is transparent but still a bit crunchy. Season with salt.
  5. Fry both sides of the fish until they have a brown crust and the inside is fully cooked but not dry. Let it drain the excess oil and serve covered with the vegetables.
Recipe Notes

1. Cleaned and scaled.

2. You can swap for any variety of spicy pepper. Adjust accordingly to how much heat you want. Also, you can use 1 tsp of cayenne powder instead.

3. If you don’t have all three types of bell pepper (red, yellow and green), you can just use the one type you have in hand and add 1 whole bell pepper.

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