Jamaican style Escovitch fried fish is easily in my all time favourite list of Jamaican recipes. It is surprisingly easy to prepare and cook and can be enjoyed hot or cold, which makes it an excellent special occasion, dinner idea, barbecue or picnic food. Whether you serve it with hard dough bread, bammy or fried dumplings it will sure to be a winner and will make your guests want to ‘lick finger’ and come back for more!
This dish can be prepared in advance for a fuller flavour and many people feel it always tastes better the day after it has been fried. Once cooked Escovitch Fish can be stored at room temperature, for a day or two in a sealed container as the vinegar pickles the fish and vegetables and acts as a preservative.
You will need:
- a large bowl for the fish
- a sharp knife and chopping board to prepare the seasoning
- a Dutch Pot or large frying pan to fry the fish
- a small to medium sized pot (saucepan) to boil the Escovitch dressing
Throughly wash your hands and scrub underneath your nails if you can. Gather all your ingredients and cooking implements together and put them on the counter top so you have everything within reach and you will also save time and make it easier for yourself.
If you want to eat this with Fried Dumplings, you can find the recipe here.
Jamaican Escovitch Fried Fish Ingredients:
- Whole fish or pieces of sliced fish, use firm meaty fleshed fish, such as: Snapper, Bream, King Fish, Tilapia
- Cooking Oil, to cover bottom of vessel used for frying by about 1/2 inch.
- 1 lime, or splash or two of vinegar (to clean fish).
- Salt and pepper to season fish.
- 1-2 cups of Plain (counter) flour to lightly dust over fish.
For Escovitch Dressing
- 1/2 to 1 Onion peeled and cut to form rings
- 1 Carrot, peeled and sliced into Julienne strips
- 1 Cho Cho, peeled and sliced into Julienne strips
- 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper, sliced into rings, or Julienne strips
- 3 large tbs of the cooking oil used to fry the fish
- 2-3 cups of preferably White Vinegar
- De-scale and clean your fish; firmly hold the fish and scrape a sharp knife along the flesh without breaking it. Moving against the direction of the scales until they pop off (this can be messy so do outside or over a clean and empty sink). The skin will feel smooth and slippery when all the scales have been removed.
- Clean away any blood and guts and clean thoroughly in water and lime juice, or a little vinegar, rinse, shake dry and place in a clean bowl.
- Add ground black pepper and salt and mix until the fish is covered in the seasonings, if using whole fish season inside the cavity. Cover and leave to marinade in the fridge for up to a day if time permits, if not, even 30 minutes marinade is better than nothing!
- Add the flour to a deep sided dish and once the fish has marinated, stab each piece with a fork and place it the bowl, lightly dusting all sides with the flour.
- Set on a dutch pot, or other deep heavy bottomed pot with enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot by about 1/2 inch. Leave to get very hot on a medium to low heat. Once the oil is clear and crackling carefully add the prepared fish to the oil, browning on both sides until crispy, which should take about 2-3 minutes on each side.
- Set aside in a dish.
- Wash and chop vegetables into Julienne strips or rings, as noted above, set aside.
- Using a pot (saucepan) boil 2-3 cups of vinegar with 3 tablespoons of the oil used to fry the fish.
- After a few minutes, add the carrot and onion. Boil for a couple of minutes before adding the Cho Cho and Scotch Bonnet Pepper. Boil all ingredients until the onion has become translucent and turn off the heat.
- Spoon this mixture over the fish and leave to sit for at least 1/2 hour, but if you can manage to wait, one day old Escovitch Fish always tastes better!
- Lay the vegetables over the fish and spoon the remaining liquid over the top.
- Serve with Bammy, Fried Dumplings, Hard Dough Bread, Fried Plantain , Rice and Peas, or even Chips and so on…. YUM!