Fish isn’t really my favorite food, but I absolutely love it raw as sushi or sashimi. I’m really lucky that Vancouver has a ton of sushi restaurants, especially ones that aren’t afraid to get creative with their dishes. I’ve seen delicate mango and salmon combinations and epic California rolls topped with a mountain of spicy tuna sashimi.
My obsession with eating these undersea creatures raw should make it no surprise that I’m completely out of my element when it comes to cooking fish. I need a ton of flavor to combat that fishy taste (I always dip my sushi in a ton of soy sauce and wasabi). Some people like it, but I’m definitely not one of them.
Which is why Fish Escovitch is so perfect.
Fish escovitch is a traditional Jamaican dish has a potent mix of sweet, sour and spicy flavours. It’s made with vinegar, tons of spices, a dash of sugar, and the King of Heat – scotch bonnet peppers. Unfortunately, I didn’t have this uber spicy pepper hanging around my kitchen, so I settled for using chili flakes instead, which did the trick quite nicely.
Traditionally, snapper is used, but I opted for some basa filets that were on sale. Basa has a very mild, neutral flavor that lets all the other flavors in this recipe shine through.
I’ve made a few more modifications to the traditional recipe, but if you’re looking for a fish dish that’s a knockout at the dinner table, this is it.
Non-traditional Fish Escovitch
1 pound basa fish or any kind of white fish
½ C seasoned flour*
2tbsp olive oil
*I use Vietnamese rice flour that has the seasoning premixed. If you can’t get your hands on one, mix ½ C regular flour with 1tsp pepper and a pinch of salt.
2 tbsp olive oil
4 sprigs of time
1 bay leaf
2 red peppers
2 cloves of garlic (I really like garlic, feel free to use 1 clove if you’re not as huge a fan)
¾ C vinegar
Chili flakes to taste or a scotch bonnet pepper*
Pinch of salt
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp allspice
*If you use a scotch bonnet pepper in this recipe, be extra careful when you handle it. Use latex gloves as sometimes the oils can’t be easily washed off your hands and you could accidentally irritate your eye if you touch it. Also, control the heat by not incorporating the seeds into this recipe. They’re hot motha…well, you get the idea.
- Give your fish a quick rinse to get rid of some of that slimy texture and then, pat dry with a paper towel.
- Cut fish into pieces about 2-inches wide (think bite sized).
- Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat.
- Dredge your pieces of fish in the flour and shake off excess before laying in the hot oil.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown, then flip over. Cook for another 2 minutes.
- Place a paper towel on a plate (to soak up oil) and place fish on top. Store in oven to keep warm while you cook the sauce.
- Julienne the onion, carrot, and red peppers. Mince the garlic.
- Using the same pan you fried the fish in, add in all the vegetables, thyme, and bay leaves. Sautee together until onions start to soften.
- Add vinegar, chili flakes, allspice and sugar. Stir together.
10. Let cook for 7-10 minutes to infuse flavours.