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Escovitch Fish

Kwame Onwuachi

Lesson time 14 min

Transport yourself to the beaches of Jamaica and make Kwame’s favorite fried dish. The freshly-caught snapper is rubbed with marination and all-purpose seasoning, shallow-fried until the skin crisps, then is drenched with Escovitch sauce, a mixture of vinegar, carrots, onions, all-spice, and spicy Scotch bonnet peppers.

Students give this lesson an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

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– Oh my goodness. – What’s in here, Robbie? – Wow. – Oh, that’s nice – You got some lobster. – That’s big. – That’s heavy huh? This is a sea-pus. – Sea pus? – Octopus, yeah. – Octopus? – What is this? – That’s massive. – So fresh. Those are my favorite types of fish to eat. – Okay, very popular in Jamaica. Fried fish with that escovitch sauce. – All right, we’re ready to make some escovitch fish. Now escovitch fish is a classic dish in Jamaica. It’s essentially fried fish. It’s marinated in this super vinegary based sauce. It is a direct correlation to, you know the Spanish influence in Jamaica. When they were here, they had their escabeche. Now the Jamaicans have taken that and have flavored it intensely. And for me, it’s the best version of it. So escovitch beach, fish fried fish, or any fish for that matter is enjoyed all over the islands. But nowhere more than on the beaches these fishes come in in waves, literally to the shorelines and their fried right there on the sands – [Woman In The Red Dress] And the flavors so good. You love that pepper – To many more. – Cheers. So I’m gonna grab some marination and some all purpose seasoning. So I’m gonna score my fish and this is gonna help get that flavor deep into the flesh. I mean, you can go all the way down to the bone for this. Pretty much the same marks as if you were grilling it, these nice hatch marks and it’s gonna also help with the cooking process. I’m gonna flip it over to the same thing. And now I’m gonna season the fish with my marination. I’m gonna make sure to get nice deep into the grooves of this. I’m gonna put a little bit on the inside too. So that flavor really carries. I’m gonna do the same thing on the other side. I’m gonna take one glove off and start seasoning it with this all purpose season. So I’m gonna flip it over and do the same thing on the other side. So now I’m gonna get my oil hot and while that’s heating up, I’m gonna make my escovitch sauce. So here we have a Dutch pot. This is a very like standard pot in Jamaica that they cook a lot of food in. The heat is able to evenly disperse with this. So this is why we’re gonna cook this fish in here. So I’m gonna grab my oil. I’m not gonna fill it too much. You kind of wanna shallow fry this but I have two nice big snappers. So I want to get this oil heated quite thoroughly ’cause once the snapper hits it the temperature is gonna reduce quite drastically. I’m gonna turn this on and now it’s time to make our escovitch sauce. Need my scotch bonnet peppers for that for sure. I’m gonna get some onions, carrot, little bit of vinegar. So first I’m gonna start by peeling my onion and for this one, I want my onion rings essentially. So I’m only gonna cut off a little bit of the end or the root and I’m only gonna slice it just a touch. So I can just peel that outer membrane off. This should be relatively thin. So I’m using the first bend in my finger really to gauge the thickness. That’s my ruler. And that’s how I never cut my hand. You wanna make sure you always get that outer membrane off and it’s sometimes it’s really, really thin. I don’t know if you can see it but that really causes a slippery onion. And for you to cut yourself See how thin that is. It’s completely edible but it makes it harder to grip the onion. All right, put that right in here. Now I’m gonna take a scotch bonnet. I’m just gonna slice it thin. Depending on how spicy you want this, you can add another scotch bonnet pepper. And then I’m gonna grade this carrot. I’m gonna cover this with vinegar. Any vinegar of your choice will do and I’m gonna cut it with a little bit of water as well. I’m gonna add a touch of salt and we’re just gonna let this marinade. Now you can make this in advance and keep this in your fridge for up to three months. Really it’s a pickle, you know so it just gets better with time. And I’m gonna add a couple all spice berries. So this is essentially a pickle. You can use this in place of any pickle in any dish you like. Put this on burgers, put this on pizza, you know, you can add this to salads. It’s a beautiful dressing that comes with its own pickles that I think is extremely versatile. So I’m gonna grab the aromatics that I didn’t use and use it to season the oil. It’s also gonna let me know when my oil’s ready which is nice. I’m taking you to church right now. All right so I’m gonna drop one of these in, and you’ll always when you’re frying, wanna lay it away from you. So if the oil splashes up, it doesn’t really hit you and I’m gonna hold it above the bottom for a little bit. So it forms just a little bit of crust. So that way it doesn’t stick to the pan. And we’re not looking for this fish to be super crispy, just looking for it to cook all the way through. This fish is gonna cook for about eight to 12 minutes. So I’m gonna flip the fish now and let it cook for the rest on the other side. So now the fish are ready. So I’m gonna take them out gently and put them on my pan. You can see from the scoring, the fish have opened up and you can pick it right out, right from off the bone. So I’m gonna place my fish on my platter. I’m gonna season it with a little bit more salt and all purpose spice. And I’m just gonna top it with this escovitch. And put it right over it. Season the head and the tail, all this is edible. All this is really, really great stuff. And there you have it escovitch fish.

About the Instructor

Kwame Onwuachi started peeling shrimp and stirring roux at 5 years old in his mother’s catering kitchen in the Bronx. The James Beard Award-winning chef has received many accolades since then, including FOOD & WINE’S Best New Chef, Esquire Magazine’s 2019 Chef of the Year, 30 Under 30 honoree by both Forbes and Zagat, and has appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef as both a contestant and judge. In his class, Onwuachi embraces the richness of Afro-Caribbean culture and cuisine, and teaches students how to cook his favorite Jamaican recipes.

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