Escovitch of Fish with Pickled Vegetables

I first discovered escovitch of fish at the local Jamaican restaurant (unfortunately they’re not online so I can’t link to them). They served it cold with a spicy salad, and I loved the crispy skin, but today I’m doing it hot with pickled veg and fake ricce and peas as a full dinner.

A quick Google brought up three likely looking recipes, all slightly different and with varying degrees of instructions:

  • Food Network
    • Lots of good spices going on here, complete with a Creole seasoning, but the instructions are lacking
  • CaribbeanPot
    • Pretty basic recipe, but the step-by-step cooking guide with pictures is very useful
  • About.com
    • This is for the cold version, but I like the idea of cider vinegar, and it also convinced me to buy some allspice berries from Spice Mountain at Borough Market.

So I’m following the instructions from CarribeanPot, using the flavours form Food Network influenced by About.com.

For the pickled veg I cut up bell peppers, onion & spring onion into thin strips, and added finely chopped garlic and scotch bonnet peppers (seeds and all). We then put cider vinegar and the juice of a lime in a large frying pan, got it hot and then added all the veg. While it was boiling away we added seasoning: salt, pepper, garlic salt, allspice berries, white pepper powder, dried oregano, cayenne pepper & dried thyme.

Pickled Veg

Once it was boiling away we put it, literally, on the back burner and turned to the fish. I managed to find red snapper at Furness Fish & Game at Borough Market, and they prepped the fish for me, so it was basically ready to pan fry right from the fridge.

Red Snapper

All I had to do was score the sides and drizzle the juice of a lime over each fish, rub the skin with salt & flour, and pop some sprigs of thyme inside.

Fish to Fry

To pan fry the fish we used rapeseed oil (or canola oil, as our North American cousins have re-branded it). This is a really healthful oil, not as good as olive oil but it has the higher smoking point you need to fry with.

Cooked Fish

While that’s cooking for 3 minutes on each side we had time to make the fake rice and peas. Fake rice means cauliflower rice, which is just cauliflower blitzed in the food processor then microwaved! For peas we used red kidney beans that we rinsed before mixing into the cauliflower and cooking.

Fake Rice & Peas

Then all we had to do was plate up! Fish on the plate, spoon of pickle juice over it, then slotted spoon the veg over the fish, and add rice & peas: then eat!

Dinner

As everything cooked in just a few minutes it was a bit of a rush, not helped by the Keith Floyd cooking style… But basically it’s pretty simple and fast to do.

Turns out the fish wasn’t completely cooked, should have given it a minute extra on each side, so 4 mins per side total. Healthful as the rapeseed oil is, and fish not absorbing oil as much as meat… next time we’d probably just bake the fish, thus making the whole meal super-low-calorie, as the rest is just veg.

The pickled veg were amazing: once again vinegar is a great way to add flavour without having to resort the the extra calories oils add.

Finally the cauliflower rice and peas worked great too. Clearly it’s not real rice and peas, but if you’re just having it as a side to the main dish you hardly notice. What I must work out is how to add a coconut flavour to it without adding the calories that come with coconut…

All in all we’re very happy with this dish. We’ll do it again when there’s some nice fish going at the market, probably doing it en papillote next time. We’ll probably also do pickled veg with other dishes as they were amazing and crucially: low cal!

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