Recipe: Jamaican Escovitch Fish

Makes enough Escovitch topping for 2-3 meals.

I’ve long adored the British tradition of dousing Fish and Chips with vinegar. In fact, I like to add enough vinegar for my fish to swim in. Sure, Keith won’t kiss me for days afterwards, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Well, this week I learned about Jamaican Escovitch, based on Spanish  Escabéche.

Escovitch is like taking your fried fish on a trip to vinegar city, on a vinegar boat, through vinegar nation

At it’s most basic, Jamaicans briefly cook fresh veggies in spiced vinegar, pile them on top of fried fish, and ladle extra vinegar sauce over the top. The veggies retain some crunch while also making the mouth pucker up. Big time. Oh, and there’s a little burn, too, thanks to hot chili peppers.

What’s not to love?


1 bell pepper, sliced in rings
hot pepper, sliced in rings (jalepeno, habenero, etc) – to taste
1 onion, sliced in half moons
1 large carrot, sliced in matchsticks
1 chayote, seeded and sliced in matchsticks

6 fish fillets (we used rainbow trout)
flour, as needed

For the sauce:

1 1/2 cups vinegar
10 allspice berries
1/8 cup sugar, or to taste
water (optional)


First, hop on a Jamaican fishing boat and catch yourself a fresh batch of dinner. Can you taste the salt in the air? Ahhh… (P.S. I want this walk home from school…)

Fishing boats on the beach near Alligator Pond, Jamaica. In the distance, a bauxite cargo ship sails past Pedro Bluff. Photo by Gerry Manacsa.

When you get home, slice up the prettiest veggies you can find. Peppers (hot and bell), onion, chayote (the green thing that looks like it needs dentures), and carrots are traditional.

Add the veggies to a pot with vinegar, sugar, salt, water, and all spice. Simmer about five minutes – the veggies should retain some crunch.Meanwhile, heat up about a 1/2 inch of oil in a large skillet. Rinse the fish off and pat dry. (You can rinse it in vinegar, lime juice, or water).

Dip each fillet in flour, shake off excess, then fry in hot oil until golden brown. Salt and drain.

Serve immediately with a generous pile of the vinegar veggies. Spoon extra vinegar sauce over fish. 

Serve to tired, grouchy friends, after a particularly long night out, with little sleep.

Get ready to pucker up, my friends.

We’re going to Vinegar City! Ha HA!

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  1. Mmmm…sounds great. I love, love vinegar as well (Vinegar City, ha! :) ). Do you think that you can play around with the vinegars, like use apple cider vinegar?
    Incidently, I’ve seen them dip fries in vinegar in North Carolina as well, I’m not sure if it’s a southern thing or not.

    • Jessica Bennett says:

      Vinegar on fries in North Carolina makes sense since the main characteristic of their BBQ (as opposed to Texas or Kansas City) is vinegar, so they probably just have it around and use it on their fries too. I don’t like french fries much, but if I eat few, I’d rather they have vinegar.

  2. elisa waller says:

    and what about those…salt vinegar chips….wonder where that idea came from??? Well Im happy with this meal…mon! Wonder if keith will taste it or eat it…yay!

  3. Jessica Bennett says:

    I visit Vinegar City often! Your comment about the chayote needing dentures made me LOL (something I don’t do often while reading).

  4. Jill the Pill says:

    This was so incredibly good, but I can’t imagine it for breakfast. Maybe leftovers tomorrow morning . . . .

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