3 fish (snapper or parrot fish is recommended), 0.75-1 lb each
2 tsp Jamaican fish seasoning
1 tsp salt (or to taste) + ½ tsp for the sauce
½ tsp black pepper (or to taste) + ½ tsp for the sauce
1 tbsp all-purpose flour – optional
Vegetable oil for frying
4 whole garlic cloves + 2 minced garlic cloves for the sauce
1 scotch bonnet pepper, cut in half (save other half for the sauce), opt to keep or remove the seeds which make it spicy
1 medium onion (yellow or white), sliced
½ carrot, julienned
2 thyme sprigs
1 heaping tsp allspice berries/pimento seeds
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1) Prepare the fish by thoroughly scaling then cleaning it with lime, vinegar, and cool water. Pat it dry with clean paper towels. Score the fish by making slits on each side of the fish, but be careful not to cut through the flesh completely.
2) Season well all over and inside of the fish and slits with a mix of the 2 tsp fish seasoning, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp black pepper. If desired, sprinkle a bit of flour over the fish on both sides to prevent them from sticking to the pan while Friday, although it is *highly* recommended to use a nonstick skillet.
3) Heat a very large skillet on a wide, flat-bottomed on medium-high heat with ¼ to ½ cup of vegetable oil or enough to be able to fry the fish one side at a time.
4) To hot oil, add the fish. Fry on one side for 4-5 minutes, then gently flip and fry on the other side. The fish is cooked once you can easily remove a piece of the flesh with a fork, and it is flaky.
5) Once cooked, remove the fish from the pan and place on a wire rack (preferred) or a paper-towel lined pan. Reduce the heat to medium. Reserve about 4 tbsp of oil from the pan and discard the rest.
6) To the hot pan, ensure about 2 tbsp of oil (or up to about 4 tbsp according to your discretion) remains in the pan for the sautéed escovitch sauce. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, thyme, and scotch bonnet. Sauté for 2 minutes.
7) Reduce the heat to low. Add the pimento seeds, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Incorporate everything well. Once the sugar dissolves and the flavors come together (about 2 minutes), the sauce is ready to serve.
Serve the escovitch sauce over the fried fish (or on the side if preferred), and enjoy with fried festival or even hardo bread. You can find a fried festival recipe in my Island Soul Recipes Vol. 2 e-cookbook.