Prep 25 mins
Cook 1 hr
Jamaican recipe, very popular dish for fish, which can be served for any of the three meals. "Escoveitch" comes from escabeche, Spanish for "pickled." There are many variations of this Jamaican recipe, popular in Cayman too, that evolved from a centuries old Spanish and Portuguese method of preparing seafood and poultry. Tilapia is perfect for this delicious, spicy recipe that's popular all day long, from breakfast to late night snack. You can also use cleaned small whole fish such as grunts, Jack Cutlass, sprats, goat fish or snappers, or any kind of fish fillets or steaks, such as wahoo, king fish, or dolphin. It should be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated to get the maximum flavor from spices, but served at room temperature. Old recipes tell you not to refrigerate the fish, to let it marinate at room temperature, but I think this is risky anywhere, especially in the tropics. It is delicious made from any fish. Serve with bammies (made from cassava root), a nice salad, some of the marinade and a nice cold beer. Allow to marinate for at least 8 hours or overnight. I received the seasoning salt as a gift a while back and it says it is sea salt with an attitude! I have eaten it both with the head and tail left on and with the filets -- personal preference, I don't like anything left on that I can't eat or looking back at me.
- 4 -6 ounces tilapia fillets
- 4 key limes or 4 cayman limes
- 1⁄2 cup flour
- ground black pepper, to taste
- seasoning salt, to taste (Johnny's Jamaica Me Crazy Seasoned Sea Salt)
- peanut oil (for frying)
- 1 1⁄2 cups white vinegar
- 1⁄2 cup water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon tortuga hell-fire hot pepper sauce (found at Tortuga Rums online) or 1 teaspoon scotch bonnet pepper, to taste (minced and seeded)
- 1 medium carrot, cut into julienne strips
- 1 small chayotes, peeled and cut into strips (cho-cho) or 1 small zucchini (sliced in strips)
- 2 medium onions, sliced into thin rings
- 12 allspice berries
- 8 whole black peppercorns
- Rinse the Tilapia filets with water and sprinkle generously with lime juice.
- Let sit for 20 minutes.
- Pat dry and sprinkle each piece generously with seasoned salt and black pepper.
- Pour the flour into a shallow bowl and dredge each piece lightly, shaking off excess.
- Set aside.
- Heat about 1/2 inch of peanut oil in a frying pan until hot (but not smoking) and fry fish until light golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
- Remove fish and drain on paper towels, then arrange in a single layer in glass dish.
- In a non-reactive saucepan, combine all remaining ingredients, from vinegar to black peppercorns, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for about five minutes until vegetables begin to soften.
- Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm, about 20 minutes, then pour 3/4 marinade over the fish. (If you add it while still very hot, it will cook the fish more and turn it to mush.).
- Arrange fish so all pieces are evenly covered with mixture.
- Allow to marinate for at least eight hours or overnight in refrigerator, but serve at room temperature.
- When serving fish, serve the remaining marinade on the side.