Fish & Seafood/ Jamaican/ Main Dishes & Entrées

Escovitch Salmon

January 21, 2024 (Last Updated: March 2, 2024)

Escovitch Salmon is a vibrant, colourful, full of zesty flavour dish, made with seasoned pan fried salmon fillets marinated in a spicy pickled vegetable medley of Scotch bonnet peppers, vinegar, and aromatic spices. If you’re bored with other salmon recipes, this Jamaican dish is a fresh way to spice up dinner.

escovitch salmon.

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Escovitch Salmon is a vibrant, colourful, full of zesty flavour dish, made with seasoned pan fried salmon fillets marinated in a spicy pickled vegetable medley of Scotch bonnet peppers, vinegar, and aromatic spices. If you’re bored with other salmon recipes, this Jamaican dish is a fresh way to spice up dinner.

Want to keep it traditional? Try my Jamaican Escovitch Fish recipe. And if you want a more in depth look at what goes into the sauce for this recipe, check out this recipe for Jamaican Pickled Vegetables (Escovitch Sauce).

a platter of escovitch salmon marinating on wooden board.

Jamaican Escovitch Salmon

Escovitch salmon is a tasty twist on traditional escovitch fish. I learned how to prepare this beloved Jamaican recipe from my mom, who learned from her mother. In Jamaica, my grandmother would meet up with the fisherman to grab the catch of the day.

Most of us don’t have the luxury of living so close to the ocean so for the sake of convenience, store bought salmon is the main ingredient for this recipe. But it’s still just as flavourful!

Here’s Why You’ll Love this Escovitch Salmon Recipe

  • Easy to Make: This is a simple dish. Season and fry your salmon, then saute your veggies with a quick escovitch pickle sauce.
  • Super Versatile: Make it more or less spicy, choose your veggies, and even the type of fish. And this dish pairs well with a variety of sides to make a well balanced meal.
  • Something Different: I love a good salmon recipe but if you’re tired of the same old, this is a treat for the taste buds. The savoury taste of fried fish, combined with the heat from scotch bonnet peppers and the tanginess of pickled veggies is the perfect mesh of island flavour.
salmon fillets on cutting board.

The Origin of Escovitch

Escovitch dates back to the 16th century, when the Spanish colonists introduced it to Jamaica. The dish is traditionally prepared with red snapper but there are many variations, like this Jamaican style escovitch salmon.

What is Escovitch Salmon?

Escovitch salmon is a Jamaican dish featuring pan-seared salmon topped with a tangy sauce made from Scotch bonnet peppers, vinegar, onions, carrots, and bell peppers.

What’s Needed to Make This Recipe (Kitchen Tools and Equipment)

  • Non-Stick Pan or Skillet: Use this to fry the salmon and later saute the vegetables for the escovitch sauce.
  • Fish Turner or Flipper: Use this to flip the filets when they’re ready.
  • Rack and Sheet Pan: Drain excess oil from the fish by placing them on the rack with a sheet pan underneath.
  • Splatter Screen: Use this to prevent splatters.
labelled ingredient flatlay for escovitch salmon.

Ingredients and Ingredient Notes

Salmon Steaks

  • Salmon Steaks or fillets: This is the rich, protein base of the dish.
  • Seasoning: Season the salmon with seasoning salt or seafood seasoning/ all purpose seasoning, salt, and black pepper.
  • Scotch Bonnet Pepper: Add them sliced for added spiciness.
  • Garlic cloves: Crush fresh garlic.
  • Whole Pimento Seeds (allspice berries): This adds aromatic flair. It imparts a warm, sweet taste.
  • Cooking Oil: Use canola, sunflower, peanut, or safflower oil for crispy salmon.

Escovitch Dressing

  • Yellow Onion, Carrot, Bell Peppers (orange and red), Chayote: Sliced and julienned vegetables that, when pickled in the dressing, create a tangy and colorful topping for the salmon.
  • Scotch Bonnet Pepper: Remove the seeds so you get the flavour without too much heat.
  • Whole Pimento Seeds: Also known as whole allspice berries, these seeds add deeper flavour than ground allspice, but they aren’t meant to be eaten. When ready to eat, leave them on the serving plate.
  • White Vinegar: This provides acidity to the dressing, contributing to the tangy flavor.
  • Granulated White Sugar: This balances the vinegar taste so it’s not overpowering.
  • Salt: Add more or less to taste.
  • Oil: This adds richness and carries the flavors from frying the fish to the dressing, creating a cohesive dish.

How to Make Escovitch Salmon

Prep and Season Salmon

  1. Prepare your salmon steaks (clean, scale, rinse); pat dry. Season with all purpose or seasoning salt, salt and black pepper. Marinate overnight or a few hours ahead for best results.
  2. Using a large, non-stick skillet, heat cooking oil, scotch bonnet pepper, garlic and pimento seeds on medium-high heat. Fry salmon for about 5 minutes on each side. Do not flip until it can freely move (a crisp exterior should have formed on the fish). Remove salmon from oil (reserve about 2 tbsp) and place on wire rack to drain excess oil; set aside.

Escovitch Dressing

  1. Prep your vegetables and set aside. In the same skillet used to fry salmon, add scotch bonnet, chayote, carrot, bell peppers, onions, vinegar, pimento, reserved oil, sugar and salt. Saute over high heat then allow to simmer for about 3 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  2. Transfer fish into a dish with a lid. Pour and spoon the escovitch dressing on top of the salmon then cover with a lid. Allow to marinate overnight, and then serve the next day for best results.

Air Fryer Method

Preheat the air fryer to 400°F (200°C) and place seasoned fish in the air fryer basket for about 14-16 minutes turning at the halfway point. If using whole snapper or fish, cut the fish in half to fit in the basket if it’s too large.

Recipe Substitutions and Tips

  • Vinegar: Instead of white vinegar, you could use rice vinegar, malt vinegar, red wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar. You can even use fresh lime juice as a vinegar substitute.
  • Veggies: If you need to substitute some of the vegetables and peppers in this recipe, consider trying cucumber, jalapeños, serrano peppers, or zucchini.
  • Fish: Not a fan of salmon? Try this recipe with tilapia, porgy, seabass or snapper.

What Goes with Escovitch Salmon

  • Bammy: This traditional Jamaican flatbread made from cassava pairs well with escovitch salmon. It’s a starchy and slightly sweet side to complement the savoury flavours of the dish.
  • Rice and Peas: This classic Jamaican side dish is a combination of rice cooked with coconut milk and kidney beans. It makes for a hearty meal.
  • Festival: This sweet fried dough, similar to a dumpling, offers a sweet contrast to the savoury and spicy notes of escovitch.
  • Steamed Vegetables: Lightly steamed vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, and green beans, make a nutritious side to balance the richness of the salmon.
  • Fried Plantains: These complement the dish with their sweet and caramelized flavour.

Recipe Notes and Tips for Success

  • Thoroughly dry the fish after cleaning so that it gets crispy when cooked.
  • Adjust the heat level of the dish by using more or less peppers.
  • If frying the salmon, ensure that the oil is hot before adding the fish. This will help achieve a crispy exterior while keeping the inside moist and tender.
  • Cook everything in one pan. There’s no need to clean the pan after cooking the salmon. That becomes the foundation of flavour for your escovitch dressing.
  • Taste test the escovitch as you go, adding more or less vinegar or sugar, as needed.
jamaican escovitch pickled salmon.

Can I Make this Ahead of Time?

Escovitch salmon is a great make ahead recipe because the flavour is even stronger on the second day. Pour and spoon the escovitch dressing on top of the cooked salmon then cover it with a lid. Allow it to marinate overnight in the fridge, and serve the next day for best results.

Storage Instructions

Store leftover salmon in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Reheating Instructions

Escovitch fish can be served at room temperature, or cold (if stored in the refrigerator). However, if you prefer a heated dish, you can do so by placing in the oven until heated through.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the meaning of the word escovitch?

The term comes from the Spanish word “escabeche,” which refers to fish that is fried and then marinated in vinegar and spices (also known as pickling).

What is escovitch salmon made of?


Escovitch fish is made with pan seared salmon, and topped with topped with a sauce made from onions, carrots, bell peppers, Scotch bonnet peppers, pimento seeds, white vinegar, sugar, and salt.

Which country invented escovitch?

Escovitch is a variation of “escabeche,”a dish that originated in Spain. Escabeche involves marinating and preserving fish in seasoned vinaigrette. While the concept has Spanish origins, the Jamaican adaptation, known as escovitch, has its own unique characteristics, with inclusions like scotch bonnet pepper and pimento seeds.

Interested in more Seafood Recipes? Check These Out!

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escovitch salmon.

Escovitch Salmon

Taneisha Morris
Escovitch Salmon is a vibrant, colourful, full of zesty flavour dish, made with seasoned pan fried salmon fillets marinated in a spicy pickled vegetable medley of Scotch bonnet peppers, vinegar, and aromatic spices. If you're bored with other salmon recipes, this Jamaican dish is a fresh way to spice up dinner.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Fish & Seafood, Jamaican & Caribbean, Main Dishes & Entrees
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings 3 servings
Calories 1154 kcal

Equipment

  • Non-Stick Pan or Skillet
  • Fish Turner or Flipper
  • Rack and Sheet Pan
  • Splatter Screen

Ingredients
  

Salmon Steaks

  • 3 Salmon Steaks or fillets
  • 1-2 tsp Seasoning Salt or seafood seasoning/ all purpose seasoning
  • 2 tsp Salt optional, as desired
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper sliced, optional
  • 3 cloves Garlic crushed
  • 5 whole Pimento Seeds allspice berries
  • 1 1/4 cup Cooking Oil canola, sunflower, peanut or safflower oil

Escovitch Dressing

  • 2 Yellow Onion medium, sliced
  • 1 Carrot medium, julienned
  • 1/2 Orange Bell Pepper julienned, or any colour
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper julienned, or any colour
  • 1/2 Chayote large, julienned
  • 1/2 Scotch Bonnet Pepper seeds removed and sliced
  • 6-7 Whole Pimento Seeds
  • 1/4 cup White Vinegar
  • 3 tsp Granulated White Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt more or less to taste
  • 1 tsp Oil from pot used to fry fish

Instructions
 

Prep and Season Salmon

  • Prepare your salmon steaks (clean, scale, rinse); pat dry. Season with all purpose or seasoning salt, salt and black pepper. Marinate overnight or a few hours ahead for best results.
  • Using a large, non-stick skillet, heat cooking oil, scotch bonnet pepper, garlic and pimento seeds on medium-high heat. Fry salmon for about 5 minutes on each side. Do not flip until it can freely move (a crisp exterior should have formed on the fish). Remove salmon from oil (reserve about 2 tbsp) and place on wire rack to drain excess oil; set aside.

Escovitch Dressing

  • Prep your vegetables and set aside. In the same skillet used to fry salmon, add scotch bonnet, chayote, carrot, bell peppers, onions, vinegar, pimento, reserved oil, sugar and salt. Saute over high heat then allow to simmer for about 3 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Transfer fish into a dish with a lid. Pour and spoon the escovitch dressing on top of the salmon then cover with a lid. Allow to marinate overnight, and serve the next day for best results.

Video

Recipe Notes

Air Fryer Method – preheat airfryer to 400°F (200°C) and place seasoned fish in the air fryer basket for about 14-16 minutes turning at the halfway point. If using whole snapper or fish, cut the fish in half to fit in basket if too large.
Frying Fish – do not flip your fish until it can freely move in the pan; this will ensure it stays whole and intact.
Pimento Seeds – also known as whole allspice berries add deeper flavour than ground allspice, but they aren’t meant to be eaten. When ready to eat, leave them in the serving plate.
See additional notes section above, for more tips.

Nutrition

Calories: 1154kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 35gFat: 106gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 31gMonounsaturated Fat: 64gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 2614mgPotassium: 1144mgFiber: 3gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 4761IUVitamin C: 66mgCalcium: 58mgIron: 2mg

Note, the nutritional information is calculated using a nutrition facts calculator. It is a rough estimate and can vary based on products used.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Leave a star rating and a comment below! You can also tag @theseasoned.skillet and use #theseasonedskillet on Instagram!
Keyword(s) Escovitch salmon, escovitch salmon recipe, escovitch salmon recipe jamaican, escovitch salmon recipe jamaican style, escovitch sauce, how to make escovitch salmon, what is escovitch salmon

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