This authentic Jamaican seafood recipe is savory, tangy, and has a little kick. Traditionally made with red snapper, firm white fish is sauteed with peppers, carrots, and onions.
With a Jamaican business partner, it probably doesn’t surprise you that I’ve been learning a lot about Caribbean cooking over the last few years.
In fact, if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my other Jamaican recipes including Jerk Pork, Fish Tea (soup), and Jamaican Rice and Peas.
This time I decided to tackle a seafood recipe I fell in love with during my visit to Jamaica earlier this year: Escovitch Fish.
Traditionally made with red snapper, you can use either a whole fish or individual fish filets. The whole fish takes a little longer to cook so I decided to share with you an easier, weeknight version using fish filets.
To make sure I got the recipe right, I invited Vince in the kitchen with me, Chef and Owner of Irie Kitchen, a local organic Jamaican restaurant here in West Michigan.
One of the first tips I got from Vince is to gently slice the fish about 3 or 4 times, being careful not to penetrate all the way through. This allows the seasoning to get inside of the fish which results in a much more flavorful end dish. Additionally, this prevents the fish from curling up when cooking in the frying pan.
Next, you’ll want to season the filets liberally on both sides with a combination of Jerk seasoning and your favorite all-purpose seasoning such as seasoning salt. Then, saute the fish in a hot pan and cook until golden brown on both sides before removing from the pan.
In that same pan, you’ll begin cooking the carrots, peppers and onions. For added seasoning, we add in a bunch of aromatics including fresh thyme and a Scotch bonnet.
Be sure to add salt and pepper as you go so that you develop the flavor throughout the dish.
For added tanginess, the veggies are seasoned with vinegar and a pinch of sugar. Taste as you go and don’t be afraid to add more vinegar or sugar if you prefer.
Before serving, return the fish to the pan to warm it back up. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly before serving,
The end result is a savory fish dish that is sweet, tangy and slightly spicy. Perfectly balanced and full of flavor, this authentic Jamaican seafood recipe is naturally gluten free, low carb and high protein.
Frequently asked questions:
Can I use fish other than snapper?
If you can’t find snapper, you can use any firm white fish such as halibut or white fish. That said, snapper is the most authentic fish used traditionally in Jamaica.
What can I use if I don’t have jerk seasoning?
Creole seasoning or any other all-purpose seasoning blend will work just fine.
What is a good substitute to a Scotch bonnet?
A habanero pepper is a great alternative. You can also omit it to keep the dish mild.
Can I cook the fish in the oven instead?
Absolutely! Simply bake it or broil it until it’s fork tender then top with the veggies.
Before serving, I like to garnish with a little freshly minced scallions. It’s delicious on its own or you can serve with Jamaican rice and peas.
Your fork is waiting.
Jamaican Escovitch Fish
- 4 snapper fillets (ideally red snapper)
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1 tablespoon jerk seasoning (or your favorite seasoning such as Creole)
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ¼ cup vegetable oil (or oil of choice)
- 1 medium carrot (peeled and cut Julienne )
- 1 medium onion (thinly sliced)
- 2 bell peppers, any color (cored and sliced)
- 1 Scotch bonnet (whole)
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon Jamaican all-spice (or regular ground all-spice)
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ cup Nakano Natural Rice Vinegar (or red wine)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- salt and pepper
- minced scallions (optional garnish)
- Season fish on both sides evenly with seasoned salt, jerk seasoning, and cayenne. Heat half of the oil (2 tablespoons) in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Saute fish until golden brown about 7-9 minutes, flipping once. Remove fish from pan; set aside.
- Add the remaining oil to the same pan along with the Julienne carrots and a pinch salt and pepper. Saute carrots until they start to tenderize, about 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in peppers, onions, and another sprinkle salt and pepper. Saute until they start to caramelize, about 6-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in all remaining ingredients (Scotch bonnet through sugar) and stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are tender, another 5-6 minutes.
- Return fish to the pan and cover with the peppers to warm the fish back up. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Divide between two bowls to serve. Garnish with minced scallions if you wish.
Escovitched fish is Escovitched fish. Everyone don’t use the same technique to cook it. Some of us cook it the way our parents and grandparents cook it. Just because one have never seen it cook the way they are use to,does not mean it is not Escovitched. The fish was fried like it was supposed to and the vegetables was also done the way it was supposed to.It was also placed on top of the fish like it supposed to. A job well done. What else do you guys want. That is Escovitched fish and it looks delicious.
I’ve tried a few different recipes for Escovitch Fish, and this is by far my favorite. I like that you offered substitutions for ingredients that might be hard to come by for some people, like habaneros for scotch bonnet peppers. Rice vinegar tastes the best in this dish, I’ve tried white and malt before. I like that you sautéed the veggies instead of just boiling them. Don’t pay any mind to the ones complaining about it not being authentic. Different families have different recipes. It was delicious.
Thanks so much for the lovely comment Alice! I’m glad you liked it.
Definitely not esco fish not even Jamaican style cooking a swear.
My Jamaican friend cooked the whole thing with me. :)
I’m sorry to put a dampener on ur vibe but that is not escovitch fish that’s more steam fish with vinegar. I KNOW JAMAICAN FOOD GREW ROUND IT AND NEVER SEEN THIS IN LIFE SORRY!!!
Hi Brandy, The recipe was developed by a Jamaican so I’m guessing you just have a different definition of Jamaican food but regardless I hope you find a recipe you love!