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Escovitch fish

Escovitch fish on the beach in Jamaica

What: Fish prepared escovitch style, more accurately, is pan-fried with salt and pepper, then dressed with a simple but winning combination of vinegar, onions, garlic, julienned bell peppers, and, of course, scotch bonnet pepper. Usually it’s a firm, meaty whole fish, like kingfish or red snapper; common sides include rice or bammy, cassava bread. If you’re looking for fish in Jamaica, there’s a good chance it’ll be made this way.
Where: Where better to eat your local fish than at the beach? We found ours at San San Beach in Port Antonio (map), a mellow strip of sand that costs US$7 for entry. There’s a little restaurant in the pavilion there.

When: The beach is open daily, 10am-4pm.

Order: The escovitch fish (JA$1,500)—red snapper, in this case—was pan-fried till crispy and dressed the usual way, then draped with carrots, onions, and peppers. It was served with rice, a basic salad, and a side of sweet-spicy sauce (made with ketchup, garlic, onion, vinegar, scotch bonnet pepper). We decided to do away with the whole sitting-at-the-table convention and dug into this, scraping the bones of all its delicious flesh, from our spot on the soft sand. A pro move, turns out.  

Alternatively: Beach shacks/eateries in general will be a good bet for these, and you’ll find lots of them along the coast. East of Port Antonio in Long Bay, check to see if the excellent Fisherman’s Park (approx. map) is offering it for the day. Or try a restaurant that advertises Jamaican classics, like The Pelican Grill (876-952-3171; Gloucester Ave., Montego Bay, map), right on Montego Bay’s “Hip Strip.”

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