Follow this recipe to make the perfect Escovitch fish and festivals. Below is a video guide for you to follow along to.

My Tips on Getting Great Tasting Escovitch Fish

  • Tip 1: Start with a fresh fish. At Hellshire, where this dish was made popular, the catch comes straight from the ocean and is never frozen.
  • Tip 2: To create an excellent Escovitch fish, fry your fish partially submerged in oil
  • Tip 3: Do not overcook your fish. Quite a lot of persons fry their fish until it turns into a dehydrated cracker.
  • Tip 4: Salt it liberally
  • Tip 5: Use only powdered seasonings but do not over-season as the powdered seasonings will burn. Garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and a little paprika should be just fine.


Escoveitch Fish and Festival

Recipe by Chef SamCourse: DinnerCuisine: JamaicanDifficulty: Intermediate


  • Fish
  • 1 large fish (dressed and thawed)

  • salt

  • black pepper

  • garlic powder

  • vegetable oil

  • 1 medium onion

  • 1 small carrot

  • 1 medium turnip

  • 3 stalks escallion

  • 1 green scotch bonnet

  • 1/2 cup vinegar

  • 1/2 tsp pimento

  • Festival
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup refined cornmeal

  • 3 tbsp sugar

  • 3 tsp baking powder

  • 3/4 tsp salt

  • 1 pinch of nutmeg

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla


  • Step One- Make Festival Dough
  • Sift all festival ingredients into a mixing bowl.
  • Mix water and vanilla, then Pour in half the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and mix till it all comes together, while adding small amounts of water as necessary.
  • Knead for 10 minutes to develop gluten in the dough. The dough should be supple and elastic, not stiff and dry.
  • Cover with damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes before shaping and frying.
  • Step Two- Make Escovitch Sauce (Pickle)
  • Julienne vegetables, onions and pepper and place into a bowl.
  • Add aromatics and vinegar to it and stir.
  • Place contents into a large jar and cover. Can be eaten immediately or left at room temperature to marinate overnight.
  • Step Three- Fry Fish
  • Bring a skillet large enough to hold your fish to high heat.
  • While the pot is heating up, use a paper towel to dab fish to remove excess moisture.
  • Make three scores on each side of fish with a sharp knife.
  • Generously season the inside and outside of the fish with salt. Sprinkle on onion powder and black pepper.
  • Set aside momentarily for frying.
  • Pour in enough vegetable oil to shallow fry the fish. Let the oil come up in temperature.
  • When the oil is searing hot, gently lay the fish tail in hand down and away from you into the hot oil so as to avoid hot oil from splashing up on you. You should hear a lot of sizzling.
  • Let the fish fry and crisp up for about 5-8 minutes on that side. Then use a spatula and a tong to gently flip to the other uncooked side for another 5-8 minutes.
  • Once fish is just cooked through remove from oil and set aside on a cookie wrack to drain excess oil.
  • Be careful not to over cook your fish as the flesh will become too dry and rubbery.
  • You may keep fish warm in your oven on the lowest temperature, until you festivals are done frying.
  • Step Four- Fry Festivals
  • Bring the same pan the fish was fried in back up to medium heat.
  • Add more oil if needed to almost submerge the festivals for deep frying.
  • Oil your hands then divide the dough into golf ball sizes then roll them lengthwise.
  • Take the log shaped dough and flatten them a bit.
  • Place them gently into the hot oil, one after the other, and let them fry over reduced heat. Be careful not to over crowd the pan.
  • You should see air pockets forming on the surface of the festival dumplings.
    Keep stirring them occasionally to ensure they are cooked from all the sides and they have turned golden brown.
  • Take them out and let them rest of a metal wrack to drain excess oil.
  • Serve them hot with your Escovitch Fish and slices of sweet pineapples! DO Enjoy!

Recipe Video


Table of Contents

About The Chef
Chef Samantha

A formally trained chef, Observer Food Awards scholar, graduate of The University of Technology in Hospitality & Food Service management, young wife and mom of two.

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