Jamaican Escoveitched Fish

jamaican escoveitched Snapper
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Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
marinate: 60 mins
Total: 80 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
350 Calories
11g Fat
14g Carbs
46g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 350
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 80mg 27%
Sodium 1862mg 81%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 46g
Vitamin C 32mg 159%
Calcium 146mg 11%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 1184mg 25%
*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.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This recipe for traditional Jamaican escoveitched fish, also spelled escovitch, is a dish served for breakfast on the weekends with bammies (a type of fried cassava bread). However, you can enjoy this dish any time of day.

It’s similar to a ceviche, the difference being that the fish is fried, not raw, and marinated after frying. And its origins are from Spain who introduced it to Jamaica during the 16th century.

The word escoveitch is a corruption of the Spanish word escabeche, which is used to describe a dish as being pickled, a great way of keeping food from spoiling in the days before refrigeration.


For the Fish:

  • 4 small red snapper fish, whole or fillets, cleaned

  • 4 cups water

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes)

  • 3 teaspoons salt

  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the Marinade:

  • 1 medium chile pepper of choice, sliced into rings

  • 1 1/2 cups cane or cider vinegar

  • 1 medium chayote squash, peeled and cut into thin strips

  • 2 small onions, sliced into rings

  • 8 whole allspice berries

  • 6 whole black peppercorns

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Fish

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the water, lemon juice, and lime juice. Wash the fish thoroughly with this solution.

  3. Remove the fish from the solution. Pat dry with papers towels and then season it with the salt and black pepper.

  4. In a skillet (cast iron works best), heat the vegetable oil to 375 F.

  5. Pan-fry the fish on both sides—approximately 3 to 5 minutes each side—until crisp.

  6. Remove the fish from the pan, drain, then place in a deep nonreactive pan. A good pan to use is a 13x9-inch glass baking pan. Depending on the size of the fish, you might have to use two.

Marinate the Fried Fish

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Make the marinade by placing chile pepper, vinegar, chayote, onions, allspice berries and peppercorns into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

  3. Boil for 3 minutes and then lower the heat and simmer until onions are soft.

  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the marinade to cool off.

  5. Pour the cooled marinade over the fried fish and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The longer it marinates, the better the flavor.

Serve the Dish

  1. When ready to serve, place the fish on a plate or platter, top with some of the marinated vegetables, and pour the marinade sauce over the top.

  2. Serve with warm bammies and a tossed salad.


  • For a traditional presentation, leave the fish head on and scale the fish before frying, then serve it whole for guests to pull their portion of meat from the bones.
  • You can fry the fish and store it in the refrigerator for up to a day in advance. When guests arrive, pull it out, top it with the marinade, and serve it with bammies as an appetizer.
  • Jamaicans typically use Scotch bonnet peppers for this recipe, but you can sub any favorite chili pepper or skip the heat altogether.

Recipe Variations

  • If you can't find cane vinegar at a specialty store, substitute apple cider vinegar instead.
  • Chayote squash—also called christophene, chocho, mirliton, xuxu, or vegetable pear—may not be available in your area. If this is the case, substitute a summer squash, a carrot, or a red bell pepper cut into thin strips.