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Escovitch Sauce – A Delicious Jamaican Traditional Sauce

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

If you’ve ever wanted to get a feel of Jamaican culture and heritage, you can do so easily by sampling Jamaican sauce.

Passed from one generation to another, this old and traditional dish has shown me that there is more to Jamaica than I’d ever considered. And yes, I said “dish”; so substantial is the concoction that it is the centerpiece and name of any plate that it rests upon.

I never thought I would have anything to do with Jamaica until I became close friends with someone from there. Quite incidentally, I learned all about their cultural upbringing, from social norms to traditions on marriage rights, and just when I thought I had heard and seen enough, he said he thought it was about time I had a feel of what it’s really like in Jamaica. It was at this time that he opened me up to Jamaican sauce.

The overall presentation of this dish was a delight. The taste was unique, and on my way home after dinner, my mind was clouded with thoughts of what other delicious Jamaican dishes I was still unaware of.

Years later, I can say I have a particular fondness for the ecovitch sauce; so poignant was the experience that I feel it changed my view and gave me an insight into Jamaica as a real place.

I still feel that there are more Jamaican dishes I really need to try, and to be honest I’m seriously considering making it my next vacation destination!

After the first taste I described, I was keen on having the delicious dish again. The urge for a second taste was very strong. Clearly the only way to satisfy this urge was to request another dinner with my friend. Even if he insisted I pay for the ingredients, I couldn’t care less; I was very focused on finding out how to prepare this dish.

Plus, this time I didn’t want surprises.

This time I was going to observe as much of the preparation process as I could. I came away with everything and then some. From the basic recipe to the little details that help make it even more delicious, I learned all there was to know and I am going to share it with you here, today.

This sauce is usually poured over fish. As such, if you are worried about your red meat consumption and still want to have adequate protein with a delicious taste, then consider this dish. My Jamaican colleague usually says that in Jamaica, it is common to present a visitor with this lovely dish as a way of welcoming them to Jamaica.

The nutritional values here cannot be overstated, either; this dish is well endowed with the right nutrients and minerals that the human body needs to keep going.

The word ‘escovitch comes from West Indian which means a dish consisting of fish fried and marinated in a sauce of vinegar, spices, peppers and other ingredients. This dish can be prepared with fish or any other meat (like chicken).

Although meat can be used, it is popularly known and best appreciated to use fish just as my colleague did on the first day.

I have personally tried various meats from cow meat to pork and even chicken when making this dish, and I must say that I enjoyed it all. If you intend to give your kitchen a Jamaican aroma for once, then step into your kitchen with the escovitch sauce ingredients because you will be making your first Jamaican dish in no time.

What is the Escovitch Sauce?

Aside from knowing that the escovitch sauce is a Jamaican sauce, it is important to create a dish dressing with a distinct appearance; the escovitch experience is incomplete without this presentation. Think of the taste that follows as the coup de grâce.

This dish can be prepared using a piece of meat like chicken, which turns it into escovitch sauce chicken or with a piece of fish, making it the escovitch sauce fish.

This dish is prepared with a piece of fish, but what gives it its distinct character is the marinating process and other Jamaican style toppings that can be added to it.

This dish is mainly prepared in Jamaica as a traditional breakfast dish, but its great taste has made it popular to consume for any meal. I wouldn’t blame anyone for disregarding its original function; it’s got such great nutritional value that eating it at any time is bound to have a positive health impact. It’s a great way to get a good, protein-heavy meal in, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

The Escovitch Sauce Recipe

The escovitch sauce recipe is one that you might not know about. It needs a detailed description, one that is nevertheless easy to understand and quick to prepare. If you are running out of time to get a dish ready and you still want to present something with class, then escovitch sauce is your best bet.

I once had an impromptu hour-long lecture on just the ingredients for this sauce. My colleague-turned-friend got so passionate when he started listing the ingredients. Basically, he was stating the basic ingredients and the benefits of each one as he pointed to them, as well as the extras that could make the dish stand out and gain more taste.

Just as I was told and taught, I will be giving you a detailed list of the necessary ingredients and a little tip from my experience while preparing this dish.

Ingredients:

  • Salt and ground pepper
  • Vegetable oil for cooking
  • 1 carrot, grated.
  • 1 onion sliced in rings.
  • ½ Green bell pepper, sliced
  • ½ Red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2/3 cup of vinegar
  • 10 pimento (optional)
  • 4 teaspoon of sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of hot pepper sauce
  • ½ scotch bonnet pepper, de-seeded and chopped.

Directions:

As much as taste is important, so is hygiene. This is why the first step in preparing this delicious is:

  •     Cleaning the fish and scaling a day before preparing. Cleaning before the intended time of use helps to save time on the overall preparation process.

Tip: do well to drain the water from the fish to avoid sparkling when placed in the boiling oil.

  •     Sprinkle some salt and pepper on it, rub gently over the entire fish and keep in the refrigerator overnight (if you intend to prepare this dish at a later date).

Tip: avoid sprinkling excess salt and pepper. Keep moderate at all times.

  •     Place a clean pan on a low to medium heat.
  •     Pour the vegetable oil into the pan and allow the oil to become hot.
  •     Once the oil is hot, place fish in the oil and fry for about 4 – 5 minutes, turning on both sides.
  •     After properly frying, take the fish out of the pan and place on a paper towel to drain excess oil.

Once the fish is prepared, you gotta make the escovitch dressing. Without the escovitch dressing, you would just be making fried fish. This isn’t an article about making fried fish!

The escovitch dressing consists of a number of ingredients mixed together to produce an outstanding flavor. It can be prepared by:

  • Pouring some oil into a clean sauce pan, mixing with vinegar and placing under a low to medium sauce heat.
  • Add the carrot and pimento immediately when the oil becomes hot and cook for a few minutes.
  • Pour in the sliced onion and bell peppers and allow cooking for some minutes. Therefore after, pour in the bonnet pepper and stir.
  • Cook for some minutes before serving.

The escovitch sauce can be served in different ways, but I must say that to bring out the best in taste, you have to marinate the fish by dipping it into the escovitch dressing and letting it marinate for a few minutes before serving. The fish should be allowed to absorb as much flavor from the dressing as possible. Another important part of the dish is the serving.

How Best to Serve it

The overall appearance of a dish says a lot about it and the escovitch sauce is no exception. If well served, it becomes very attractive and draws a lot of attention as I have personally experienced when bringing this to the dinner table. This dish can be served by simply placing the marinated fish in a flat plate and pouring the dressing over it.

The escovitch sauce can be consumed together with a number of other dishes such as chips, noodles and rice. This dish can be prepared in 15 minutes, and dividing it up is easy as you can simply serve one fish piece per person.

Tip: Try not to splash over the plate while pouring the dressing. Splashing the dressing over the dish may make the dish look a bit messy. Carefully pouring the dressing over the fish will help the overall appearance come out unique.

Conclusion

Escovitch sauce is more than just a stylish term or word to describe a dish. It is a dish in a class of its own. With an attractive appearance and delicious taste, the escovitch sauce is blessed.

This dish brings an island flavor into your kitchen along with that feeling of Jamaica. The secret of this sauce lies not only in the dressing and the taste but also in the love with which it is prepared. So prepare it with nothing less than the best of your love, and you’ll do just fine. Enjoy.

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a frelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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