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Jamaican Escovitch Fish

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This classic Jamaican Escovitch Fish recipe is a delicious Caribbean staple. Made with red snapper fish and a colorful pepper and vinegar-based sauce, this is one dish you must make!

escovitch fish filet with festival in background

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Growing up near the beach has its perks. My step-dad loved to fish and would bring home all kinds of fish. Escovitch fish made an appearance quite often in our house and it would never disappoint.

Escovitch fish is a popular dish in Jamaica. Traditionally, it’s made with seasoned whole red snapper fish that is fried in oil to make the skin crispy, before being topped with a mixture composed of onions and bell peppers, scotch bonnet pepper, and vinegar. Sometimes the fish is marinated in the vinegar marinade overnight.

Rather than frying my fish, I choose to air fry it, a suggestion given to me by my aunt. This is how she makes her escovitch fish and it is absolutely delicious.

If you don’t have an air fryer, the fish can still be fried in oil on the stovetop before adding the sauce. 

How to make Jamaican Escovitch Fish

First, gather your ingredients and prep your whole fish. I like to wash the fish in water with lime juice, remove any remaining scales, cut the fins, and pat the outside of the fish dry. I do this same process for my air fryer whole fish recipe.

ingredients for escovitch fish

Season the fish with a little oil and dry seasonings. I use my homemade fish seasoning but you can use whatever seasoning you like, like salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. 

If using the air fryer, place the fish in the air fryer basket and cook at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 14-16 minutes. If your whole fish is too large to fit in the basket, cut it in half.  

Meanwhile, while the fish is cooking, make your escovitch sauce on the stove. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar, onion, carrot, green and red bell pepper, and scotch bonnet pepper. Sauté the onions and peppers until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. 

peppers that were sauteed in vinegar

Add the remaining vinegar, dried thyme, allspice, granulated sugar, and black pepper. Simmer over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. 

peppers in vinegar sauce and seasoning

When the fish is done, place it on a platter and pour the escovitch sauce over the fish.

jamaican escovitch fish on a plate

That’s it, you’ve made escovitch fish!

To fry the fish on the stovetop

You can fry the fish on the stovetop and get the crispy skin if needed. Prepare the fish bywashing the fish in water with lime juice, remove any remaining scales, cut the fins, and pat the outside of the fish dry. Season the fish with the seasonings.

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high 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. Prepare the escovitch sauce in a separate pan.

What is exactly is escovitch fish?

Escovitch fish is Jamaica’s version of marinated fish and peppers. It’s usually made with red snapper fish although other fish can be used as well. My family makes it with whole fish rather than fish filets. However, you can use fish filets if needed.

What do you eat escovitch fish with?

Whatever you like! I usually eat escovitch fish with rice, fried dumplings, or Jamaican festival.

Can this be made ahead?

Yes! You can make the vinegar sauce up to a few days in advance. The fish can be cooked and stored up to 3-4 days in advance.

Notes

  • The scotch bonnet pepper in this recipe makes the dish slightly spicy. If you aren’t a fan of spice, leave the scotch bonnet pepper out. If you can’t find scotch bonnet pepper, a habanero pepper makes a great substitute.
  • You can marinate the fish in the dry seasonings overnight in the fridge if you have time. It gives the dish even more flavor.

Looking for other Jamaican recipes? Check these out.

Jamaican Escovitch Fish

This classic Jamaican Escovitch fish recipe is a delicious Caribbean staple. Made with red snapper fish and a colorful pepper and vinegar-based sauce, this is one dish you must make!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Caribbean
Keyword escovitch fish, jamaican escovitch fish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2 people
Calories 137kcal
Author Tanya

Ingredients

  • 1 whole red snapper fish about 1.5 lbs, scaled and gutted
  • 1/2 Tablespoon canola oil more if frying on the stove*
  • 1.5 Tablespoons fish seasoning

Escovitch Sauce

  • 1 cup white distilled vinegar separated
  • 1 yellow onion sliced
  • 1 carrot peeled and sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper peeled and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper peeled and sliced
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper peeled and sliced, seeds and membrane removed
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

Air Frying the Fish

  • Rub 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.

For Stovetop Frying

  • You can fry the fish on the stovetop and get the crispy skin if needed. 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 the fish with the seasonings.
    Heat enough canola oil in a large skillet to cover half of the fish filets over medium-high 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. Prepare the escovitch sauce in a separate pan.

Escovitch Sauce

  • Meanwhile, while the fish is cooking, make your escovitch sauce on the stove. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar, onion, carrot, green and red bell pepper, and scotch bonnet pepper. Sauté the onions and peppers until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. 
  • Add the remaining vinegar, dried thyme, allspice, granulated sugar, and black pepper. Simmer over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.
  • When the fish is done, place it on a platter and pour the escovitch sauce over the fish. Serve and enjoy.

Notes

  • The scotch bonnet pepper in this recipe makes the dish slightly spicy. If you aren’t a fan of spice, leave the scotch bonnet pepper out. If you can’t find scotch bonnet pepper, a habanero pepper makes a great substitute.
  • You can marinate the fish in the dry seasonings overnight in the fridge if you have time. It gives the dish even more flavor.

Nutrition

Calories: 137kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 32mg | Potassium: 458mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 7328IU | Vitamin C: 138mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 2mg
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