The Jamaican Escovitch fish recipe is a must-try! This Escovitch fish recipe is crispy fried fish topped with a spicy pickled vegetable medley. So easy to make, and it tastes amazingly good. A great dish, especially if you like spicy food!
What is Escovitch fish
Escovitch is crispy fried fish soaked in a spicy pickled sauce with lots of white onion, thin strips of carrot, pimento berries (allspice) and scotch bonnet pepper. You can add bell pepper to the vegetable medley, but I went the traditional route and left it out.
Nearly every kind of fish is escovitch in Jamaica. If you’re not in Jamaica, red snapper is the best fish to use to get an authentic Jamaican taste.
Escovitch fish ingredients
Not many ingredients are required – part of the Magic of this recipe!!
- Fish: Firstly, use fresh fish—the fresher the fish, the better. Escovitch requires the fish to be crispy fried. Fish that aren’t fresh tends to break apart when frying. The type of fish you use doesn’t matter. Also, you don’t have to use a whole fish. You can also Escovitch fish fillets.
- Hot pepper: Like many Jamaican dishes, escovitch fish is or should be spicy, so scotch bonnet pepper is essential. Use scotch bonnet pepper for the escovitch sauce and to fry the fish.
- Pimento (allspice): Pimento (allspice) is an essential spice in Jamaican cuisine—one of the main ingredients that give Jamaican cooking its unique taste. No Jamaican cuisine has an authentic taste without pimento (allspice), including Escovitch fish. In the Escovitch recipe below, we use pimento berries (allspice) to fry the fish and in the pickled sauce.
- Carrot, onion: Onions and carrots are the vegetables for the Escovitch sauce. Add bell pepper to Jamaican Escovitch sauce (see recipe card below).
- Vinegar, sugar: You can’t make a picked sauce without vinegar and sugar. Use white distilled vinegar. You can also use granulated sugar, but you may have to adjust the amount because the measurement below is for brown sugar.
- Salt and black pepper: Traditionally, we season fish with salt and black pepper. However, you can also use fish seasoning if you wish.
- Garlic: Adding garlic to the frying oil adds more flavour to the fish.
How to prepare Escovitch fish recipe?
Here is how to cook Jamaican escovitch fish with an easy-to-follow recipe:
- Season the fish: After cleaning the fish, dry it. You may use a paper towel to remove all the water from the fish. You are frying the fish crispy brown, so you don’t want the fish wet or cold. Combine the salt and black pepper to make the fish seasoning. Rub the seasoning all over and into the fish.
- Oil: You don’t need a lot of cooking oil to pan-fry fish, but the temperature of the oil is essential to make the fish crispy. Bring the oil near the smoke point before adding the fish. Also, place the pimento berries, scotch bonnet and slice garlic in the oil before adding the fish to the oil.
- Fry fish: Once the garlic starts to brown, add the fish to the oil. Fry on both sides until crispy brown. After placing the fish in the oil, turn the heat down so the fish don’t brown before it cook inside.
- Vegetable slices: You want thinly sliced vegetables for the escovitch sauce. Slice the carrot into thin strips and chop the whole onion to get the ring slices. The more scotch bonnet pepper you use, the spicier the escovitch sauce. I suggest removing the pepper seed as it is the hottest part of the pepper. One scotch bonnet is enough for the recipe below, but use two if you are a daredevil like myself.
- Escovitch sauce: In the same pan, you fry the fish, sauté the carrot, onion, pimento (allspice) and scotch bonnet pepper for about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- Escovitch fish: Pour the sauce over and leave it to sit. The best time to eat the Escovitch fish is the day after when the fish have absorbed all the flavour from the pickled sauce. How easy is it to make this Jamaican Escovitch fish recipe?
How to store Escovitch fish?
The best time to eat escovitch is the day after you make it, when the fish after soaking up all the pickled sauce. If you store the Escovitch fish for over two days, put the fish in the refrigerator. Escovitch fish will last in the fridge for up to four weeks. However, the onion and carrot will lose their crispness after week three but are still safe to eat. But you won’t have this tasty Escovitch fish around for four weeks.
Side for this Jamaican Escovitch fish recipe
In Jamaica, escovitch fish can serve with just about any side, but a few are more common than others. These sides are bammy, festival dumplings or hard-dough bread, which you can get as a side at public events or restaurants. But with the recipe below, you can have escovitch fish anytime at home and eat it with whatever you like.
Jamaican Escovitch Fish Recipe
- 850 g (1.87 lb) Fresh fish
- 2 tsp Salt
- ¾ tsp Black pepper
- 1 ½ tbsp Brown sugar
- 3 Garlic cloves
- 60 g (2.12 oz) Slice onion
- 150 g (5.29 oz) Carrot strips
- 3 Scotch bonnet pepper De-seed two and slice. Leave the other two whole
- 30 Pimentos berries (allspice)
- 6 tbsp White distill vinegar
- Cooking Oil
- Wash the fish in water with the juice from the lime/lemon. Drain away the excess water and dry the fish.
- Mix 1 tsp salt and the black pepper to make the fish seasoning. Rub the seasoning all over and into the fish. Cut small deep gashes on each side of the fish and rub the seasoning into it.
- Add cooking oil to a frying pan, just enough to cover one side of the fish at a time (you are NOT deep frying the fish). Place on high heat. Let the oil hot to smoke point.
- Cut the garlic cloves in half and drop them into the oil with 5 grains of pimentos berries and a whole scotch bonnet pepper.
- Carefully place the fish in the hot oil. After 2-3 minutes, turn the heat down to medium-low (you don't want the fish to brown before they cook). Fry both sides of the fish until it is crispy.
- Pour away the oil in the frying leaving about 1 tbsp. Add the onion, the rest of the pimento berries, the slice of scotch bonnet pepper, carrot strips and sauté for 2-3 minutes on low heat.
- Add the vinegar and brown sugar, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Pour the sauce over the fried fish and leave to absorb the flavour.
- Use only one scotch bonnet pepper in the Escovitch sauce if you can’t take too much spice.
More Fish Recipes
Let’s stay connected! Find me on:
- Also subscribe to my newsletter for recipe updates!
THANK YOU for all of your support, for visiting my blog, commenting, and sharing my recipes with your friends and family. I am SO thankful for you!
If you try this Jamaican escovitch fish recipe, then don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment below. I would LOVE to hear about your experience and your comments just makes my day!