Inspired by his travels in Jamaica, 2019 F&W Best New Chef Kwame Onwuachi shared this recipe for escovitch snapper. In Jamaica, escovitch fish—fish that’s fried and then topped with pickled, thinly sliced vegetables—is everywhere. In chef Kwame Onwuachi’s version, a garlicky marinade forms a crust as the fish cooks, adding flavor and keeping the snapper moist and tender, and a pickled tangle of thinly sliced chiles, carrot, and onion­—makes a punchy, crunchy topping for crispy fried whole snapper.

September 2020


Credit: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop styling by Christine Keely

Recipe Summary

45 mins




Make the pickled vegetables
  • Combine onions, carrots, vinegar, garlic, ginger, chile, lime juice, allspice, and salt in a large bowl; toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours.

Make the fish
  • Combine oil, garlic, seasoned salt, thyme, and ginger in a blender; process until a smooth paste forms, about 2 minutes. Using a sharp knife, score fish skin in a crosshatch pattern. Rub oil mixture evenly on skin and in cavities of fish. Place fish on a large baking sheet; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate about 2 hours.

  • Fill a large Dutch oven (wide enough to fit 1 whole snapper horizontally) with oil to a depth of 4 inches. Heat over medium-high until oil reaches 350°F. Sprinkle fish evenly with kosher salt. Fry fish, 1 at a time, until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes, carefully turning halfway through cook time. Remove from pot, and transfer to a serving platter. Top with pickled vegetables.


Habanero peppers can be substituted for Scotch bonnet chiles.

Suggested Pairing

Cold Jamaican lager.