Kwame's Escovitch Snapper

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 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.

Escovitch Fish
Photo: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop styling by Christine Keely
Total Time:
45 mins


Pickled Vegetables

  • 2 medium-size yellow onions, thinly sliced

  • 2 large carrots, cut into thin strips

  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced

  • 4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger

  • 1 fresh Scotch bonnet chile, stemmed, unseeded, and thinly sliced (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  • 1 cup canola oil, plus more for frying

  • 20 large garlic cloves

  • 2 tablespoons seasoned salt (such as Lawry’s)

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 (2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger

  • 2 (3- to 3 1/2-pound) whole red snapper, scaled and gutted

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt


Make the Pickled Vegetables

  1. 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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