Escoveitched Fish

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Have you ever heard of escoveitched fish? It is a deliciously spicy, tangy delicacy sold on many of Jamaica’s beaches and seafood restaurants done to order from the freshest fish delivered daily.

The name stems from the Spanish word “escabeche” which means pickled. Before the days of electricity, fish would be fried and then preserved in a spicy vinegar sauce that would keep the fish edible for several days.

This dish has come a long way and is truly a Jamaican delicacy that must be tried. It’s one of our best street foods, or rather, beach foods sold in the food stalls dotting public beaches and is too delicious to miss!

Here’s the recipe for the sauce if you’ve tried and have decided that you must recreate it at home. Snapper, parrot or lionfish is the most common type of fish used in Jamaica to prepare the dish but it will go well with most varieties.

Escoveitched Fish

  • 2 lbs fresh fish, whole or sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed pimento (allspice) grains
  • Oil for deep frying

Escoveitch Sauce

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced into rings
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 chayote (known as chocho in Jamaica) peeled and cut into strips (substitute bell peppers if chayote isn’t available)
  • 6 whole pimento grains
  • Hot scotch bonnet peppers to taste

Make diagonal slashes in fish. Mix together the salt, black pepper and crushed pimento. Place a little of this mixture inside each slash. If using whole fish, rub the mixture inside the fish itself. If using sliced fish, rub the mixture over each slice.

Deep fry in hot oil until golden brown. Set aside.

Place all the ingredients for the escoveitch sauce in a pot, and bring to a boil. Boil for only a few minutes to prevent the vegetables from losing their crunch.

Pour the sauce over the fish.