Authentic Jamaican Escovitch Fish Recipe – Flavorful Caribbean Seafood Dish

Best Traditional Jamaican Escovitch Fish Recipe: A Flavorful Caribbean Seafood Delight

Discover the perfect blend of savory fried fish and zesty pickle in this quick, satisfying Jamaican Escovitch Fish recipe. A versatile dish enjoyed from sunrise to sunset, it’s ideal for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as an appetizing party snack.

Escovitch fish is a culinary gem that showcases Jamaica’s rich cultural heritage. While traditionally prepared with smaller whole fish like snapper, this method works wonderfully with various fish varieties. The process is straightforward: dust the fish in flour, fry it to golden perfection, then bathe it in a tangy, aromatic pickle known as escovitch. This flavorful sauce combines cane vinegar, fiery Scotch bonnet pepper, aromatic pimento (allspice berries), onion, chayote, and carrot. The result? A mouthwatering fusion of crispy, savory fish and a bright, piquant topping that will transport your taste buds to the Caribbean.

This dish holds a special place in Jamaican culture, particularly during Easter celebrations. Many families have cherished memories of enjoying escovitch fish on Good Friday, adhering to the tradition of eating fish on this holy day. Some even make it a weekly ritual, savoring the dish as a delicious way to welcome the weekend.

While traditionalists may serve escovitch fish at room temperature, modern interpretations often feature the dish piping hot. Our recipe caters to both preferences, allowing you to enjoy it fresh from the pan or cooled to room temperature. Whichever way you choose, this Jamaican Escovitch Fish is sure to become a new favorite in your culinary repertoire.

Jamaican Escovitch Fish Recipe


For the Fried Fish:

  • Four 8- to 10-ounce (225-285g) whole cleaned snapper or four 6- to 8-ounce (170-230g) skin-on snapper fillets
  • 4 lime limes, halved
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (32g)
  • 1 1/2 cups unrefined coconut oil, for frying

For the Escovitch Sauce:

  • 2 cups (473ml) white cane vinegar or distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup (100g) julienned chayote
  • 1 cup (100g) julienned carrot
  • 2 medium yellow onions (8 ounces; 227g each), thinly sliced crosswise into rounds
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, stemmed and thinly sliced (with or without seeds, depending on heat preference)
  • 6 allspice berries


  1. Prepare the Fish: Thoroughly wash the fish and rub it all over with lime halves, including the cavity if using whole fish. Pat dry. Score the skin side with diagonal slashes. Rub with garlic and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread flour in a shallow dish. Lightly dredge the fish, shaking off excess.
  3. Heat 1/2 inch oil in a large cast iron skillet or stainless-steel sauté pan over medium heat until shimmering. Gently add fish, skin side down, and fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  4. Transfer the fried fish to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  5. Prepare the Escovitch Sauce: In a 2-quart saucepan, bring vinegar, 1 cup (237ml) water, sugar, and salt to a boil. Add chayote, carrots, onions, Scotch bonnet, and allspice berries. Simmer for 3 minutes, then remove from heat.
  6. Place the fried fish on a rimmed heatproof platter. Pour the hot escovitch sauce over the fish. Serve immediately for a hot dish, or allow to cool to room temperature for a traditional experience.

Pro Tips

Chayote, a pear-shaped squash popular in Jamaican cuisine, adds a unique texture to the dish. Choose small, firm chayotes with even coloring and no blemishes for the best results.

For an authentic Jamaican experience, serve your escovitch fish with fried bammy, a traditional cassava flatbread that complements the dish perfectly.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The escovitch pickle can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days, allowing you to enjoy this delicious condiment throughout the week.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
671 Calories
32g Fat
29g Carbs
63g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 671
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 32g 41%
Saturated Fat 23g 117%
Cholesterol 107mg 36%
Sodium 253mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 11%
Dietary Fiber 6g 22%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 63g
Vitamin C 52mg 262%
Calcium 167mg 13%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 1590mg 34%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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