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Brown Stew Fish

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Jamaican brown stew fish is a delicious dish featuring fried snapper, cooked with onions, bell peppers, garlic, a Scotch bonnet with a sauce that is finished with browning sauce This traditional dish is packed full of the flavors of the Caribbean.

A black skillet containing brown fish stew with a bowl of rice and peas and Scotch bonnet peppers set alongside

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Full Recipe Ingredients/Instructions are available in the 
recipe card at the bottom of the post. 
You can find important tips/tricks in the
blog post.

Jamaican brown stew fish is one of my favorite Caribbean stew fish recipes. I use snapper as it is a firm fish which can be fried first and doesn’t break apart before the rest of the ingredients are added to the dish.

I use the whole fish in this recipe, nothing goes to waste. Also, using the whole fish imparts lots of flavor into the finished dish.

To brown this stew fish, I use browning in the sauce. Browning adds a caramel color to darken the sauce, and also a real depth of smoky flavor. A Scotch bonnet adds a kick of heat, but if you prefer it less spicy leave it out. You can find browning in most major markets or you can make your own homemade browning.

My brown stew snapper recipe is really quick to prepare and can be on the table in 20 minutes. There is no need to marinate the fish for hours simply season in a blend of dried herbs and spices, then cook.

This family favorite recipe is one I grew up with and if you like the flavors in this traditional Jamaican dish then you should try my Brown Stew Chicken recipe too.

Ingredients

Brown stew fish recipe ingredients set out in white bowls

Here is what you will need for this recipe.  

  • Whole snapper
  • Brown sugar
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Kosher salt
  • Paprika
  • Dried thyme
  • Black pepper
  • Allspice
  • Oil
  • Yellow onion
  • Green bell pepper
  • Scotch bonnet
  • Garlic
  • Ketchup
  • Browning sauce
  • Water

How to make my brown fish stew recipe 

My Brown Fish Stew recipe simple to prepare and cook. You can also print this recipe out using the recipe card below.

A white bowl containing spiced and seasoned snapper fillets

Prepare the fish by washing the fish in water with lime juice, remove any remaining scales, cut the fins, and pat the outside of the fish dry.

Season fish with brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, paprika, thyme, black pepper, and allspice.

A black skillet with cooked snapper fillets

Heat enough canola oil in a large skillet to cover half of the fish filets over medium heat, until the oil, reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry the fish in the oil on both sides, about 5-6 minutes on each side.

Remove the fish and pour out the oil, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pan. 

Add onion, bell pepper, and scotch bonnet to the pan and stir until softened, about 5 minutes.

Now add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute. 

A close up image of a black skillet with brow stew fish

Add ketchup, browning, and water, and bring to a simmer. Return fish to skillet and cover the fish in the sauce. Serve and enjoy.

Expert Tips

These tips will help you make the best brown stew fish you’ve ever tasted. 

  • This is a quick cook, so get all your ingredients set out before you start cooking.
  • Wash the fish and pat it dry, the fish will cook better if dry.
  • Don’t be heavy handed with the seasoning, be accurate and use the quantities detailed on the recipe card, that way you will not overpower the flavor of the fish.
  • Make sure you get the oil nice and hot before you add the fish. I like to use a thermometer to ensure the oil has reached the right temperature.

Variations 

This brown stew fish recipe is full of flavor, but here are some suggestions if you want to mix things up.

  • I’ve used red snapper, but you use any meaty fish, for example parrot or king fish. Use a fish that isn’t too delicate and won’t break apart when being fried.
  • Add in extra veggies, like okra or some carrot.
  • If you don’t like your food too spicy, then leave out the Scotch bonnet.
  • If you prefer to air fry the fish, rub a little oil over fish and season the fish with fish seasoning on the outside and inside. Place fish in the air fryer basket and cook on 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 14-16 minutes or until the internal temperature of the thickest part reaches at least 145F and the inside of the fish is flaky. Then proceed with the remainder of the recipe. 
A black skillet with cooked snapper fillets and vegetables

How to adjust this brown stew fish recipe  

This recipe serves two but can be adapted to make a bigger or smaller batch. Here are the best ways to do this. 

Double: To feed larger groups of diners, double or even triple the recipe. However, if feeding larger numbers use more than one skillet. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan otherwise the fish will steam, rather than fry and you won’t get that delicious crispy skin.

Halve: If cooking for one you can cut the ingredients in half.

How to serve Jamaican brown stew fish 

This fish stew packs a real flavor punch, so I like to keep any sides simple. Serve the stew over rice with a side of cabbage.  Try my Jamaican Rice and Peas (Pressure Cooker), along with either this delicious Jamaican Cabbage or these fried dumplings.

A black skillet with brown stew fish and a bowl of rice set alongside

FAQs:

Can brown stew fish be prepared ahead?

This is a dish that is best served fresh. If you want to get ahead then I suggest getting all the ingredients prepared earlier in the day, then you can store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook.

How do you store leftover fish stew?

I think this is dish best served fresh from the pan, ensuring that delicious crispy skin. However, once cooked, leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Can you freeze fish stew?

Once cooked and cooled place the stew into an airtight container and store in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Try to ensure that the fish is covered in liquid to stop it from drying out.

Here are some of my other favorite Jamaican recipes for you to try:

If you have tried this Jamaican brown stew fish recipe, or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below!

A black skillet with cooked snapper fillets and vegetables
Print Pin
5 from 2 votes

Brown Stew Fish

Jamaican brown stew fish is a delicious dish featuring fried snapper, cooked with onions, bell peppers, garlic, a Scotch bonnet with a sauce that is finished with browning sauce This traditional dish is packed full of the flavors of the Caribbean.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Caribbean, Jamaican
Keyword brown stew fish, brown stew snapper recipe, caribbean stew fish, jamaican brown stew fish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 1246kcal
Author Tanya

Ingredients

  • 2 fresh snapper fillets cut into quarters
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 yellow onion halved and sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper halved and sliced
  • 1 Scotch bonnet seeds removed and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp browning
  • 3/4 cup water

Instructions

  • Prepare the fish by washing the fish in water with lime juice, remove any remaining scales, cut the fins, and pat the outside of the fish dry. Season fish with brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, paprika, thyme, black pepper, and allspice.
  • Heat enough canola oil in a large skillet to cover half of the fish filets over medium heat, until the oil, reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry the fish in the oil on both sides, about 5-6 minutes on each side.
  • Remove the fish and pour out the oil, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pan.
  • Add onion, bell pepper, and scotch bonnet to the pan and stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for an additional minute.
  • Add ketchup, browning, and water, and bring to a simmer. Return fish to skillet and cover the fish in the sauce. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Suggested Tools

12" skillet
tongs
whisk
spatula

Notes

  • If you prefer to air fry the fish, rub a little oil over fish and season the fish with fish seasoning on the outside and inside. Place fish in the air fryer basket and cook on 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 14-16 minutes or until the internal temperature of the thickest part reaches at least 145F and the inside of the fish is flaky. Then proceed with the remainder of the recipe. 

Nutrition

Calories: 1246kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 187g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 12g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 333mg | Sodium: 2990mg | Potassium: 4087mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1777IU | Vitamin C: 76mg | Calcium: 349mg | Iron: 3mg
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