Jamaican Brown Stew Fish

March 28, 2023
2 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

Jamaican Brown Stew Fish is a dish in which the fish is seasoned, fried, and simmered down in a rich, savory gravy that’s filled with aromatics like onions, garlic, bell peppers, tomatoes, thyme, and Scotch bonnet pepper. Blooming the thyme and garlic in the oil first helps create a base layer of flavor, which adds complexity to the finished dish (they also perfume the air with an intoxicating aroma as they cook). The pierced Scotch bonnet pepper brings a punch of heat that is traditional to this Caribbean dish, but if you prefer it mild, simply leave it out. For this version, I used a whole snapper, but filets of almost any type of fish can be used as long as they’re sturdy enough to hold up to the two-step cooking process. The fish is wonderful on its own, though it’s even better served with rice or roti (a type of flatbread) to sop up all that saucy goodness. —Millie Peartree

What You'll Need
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Jamaican Brown Stew Fish
  • 2 whole snapper, scaled, fins removed, and gutted
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried jerk seasoning or all-purpose seasoning
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, divided
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
  • 2 cups mixed bell peppers, sliced (red, green, yellow, and orange)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, julienned
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1 whole Scotch bonnet pepper, pierced
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons browning sauce (such as Grace)
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon pimento seeds (allspice)
  1. With a chef's knife, score the fish by making slits on both sides; pat fish dry with a paper towel. Using salt, pepper and jerk seasoning, season both the outside of the fish and inner cavity. Set aside.
  2. In a large, nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add 2 whole cloves of garlic and 2 sprigs of thyme to infuse the oil.
  3. Working in two batches, add one whole snapper to the skillet and fry for about 5 minutes on each side until golden and crisp. Do not flip until it can freely move (a crisp exterior should have formed on the fish). Remove fish from oil and place on a wire rack or paper towel to drain excess oil; set aside. Repeat with the remaining snapper.
  4. Transfer oil from the pan into a heat-proof bowl, reserving 2 tablespoons of oil in the skillet. Return the pan to the stove, and reduce heat to medium. Add the bell peppers, onion, tomatoes, carrots, scallions, remaining 2 sprigs of thyme, and the Scotch bonnet pepper and sauté for 2 minutes. Finely chop the remaining 2 garlic cloves, and add to the pan and sauté until fragrant, another 30 seconds.
  5. Add the ketchup, browning sauce, soy sauce, pimento seeds, and ½ cup water. Return fish to skillet and gently spoon sauce overtop of fish. Increase heat to medium-high and cover the skillet for about 2 to 5 minutes. Uncover and spoon sauce overtop the fish again, remove from heat, serve with rice and peas and sweet plantains.

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Millie Peartree

Recipe by: Millie Peartree

1 Review

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