My grandfather was a fisherman in Old Harbour Bay, a small fishing village in Jamaica. My grandmother, in turn, was a fisher-woman, a fish monger if you will. She sold sea fish on the sea shore. (Oh goodness gracious! That was terribly bad, wasn’t it, dahling? It ain’t easy being cheesy, baby.) 

Fish was a common part of our diet. It wasn’t unheard of to have fish for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the occasional snack. My favorite was always fried fish, gently cooked down in a peppery, briny Escovitch. Escovitch is a pickled sauce of onion, bell peppers, carrots and mad hot scotch bonnet or habanero peppers briefly cooked in vinegar with a hint of earthiness from pimento berries (allspice berries).

Done the Jamaican way, Escovitch is not for the faint of heart. I remember when my grandmother would make it, I’d have to leave the kitchen because the spiciness would burn my eyes and make me cough. No worries, dahling, I’ll show you a significantly milder version that still delivers the flavor.

When I became a vegan, it was important to me to extend my compassion not only to non-human land animals, but to sea animals as well. All animals have a will to live, an innate desire to live out their lives as nature intended. This will isn’t just limited to the human animal, and is certainly not limited only to land animals. Fish have their own lives, their own eco-system and their own will to be live freely. I believe, dahling, if even on a sub-conscious level, we recognize that. That is why the movie, Free Willy, resonated so much with a lot of us. Listen to me tell my vegan story, here.

So, fish left my plate and so did Escovitch. Or so I thought. See, the thing about cooking vegan dishes is that it compels us to look at food in a different way. It’s not so much that we are now cooking foreign foods, in most cases we are actually cooking familiar foods but in a new and interesting way. A food that was once relegated to side dish status, can now become the star of the plate. We suddenly realize a vegetable we used to only blanch, can now be roasted or braised. For a delicious example, check out my Jamaican Brown Stew Cauliflower, here

I got to thinking, if Escovitch is entirely about the pickled vegetables that just happen to be served on fish, what’s preventing me from separating the two? Nothing but my imagination, dahling. But tradition is a powerful tie that binds. I wasn’t ready to abandon the fish escovitch combo altogether, so I figured I’d just make something else fish-like. Enter the humble potato. I decided I needed the russet for its dry fluffiness and mild flavor. With a few knife tricks, I had something that looked like a fish filet. By simply creating a groove in the middle of the sliced potato, I was able to evoke a backbone for my potato filet. Shallow diagonal lines running from the groove in the center almost to the edge of the potato gave the appearance of fish bones.

Thanks to a lovely sauce (I used Gray’s Fish and Meat Sauce, which has neither fish nor meat in it. You can find it on Amazon here, or even get Grace Fish and Meat Sauce, also on Amazon here.) and a bit of nori, I was able to capture the subtle fishiness of the sea, with a crisp “skin” to boot. To drive home the fishiness even more, I seasoned the filet with Ocho Rios Ol’ Harbour Fish Fry Seafood Seasoning, that you can get here. Tada! Escovitch potatoes I was only too happy to eat. Check out the recipe below, then leave a comment at the bottom letting me know what you think. Let’s Cook Together, dahling. 

Escovitch Potato Main

Print Recipe
Jamaican Style Potato Escovitch
A delicious crispy potato gently simmered in a spicy, briny escvotich marinade.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp Grays or Grace Jamaican Fish and Meat Sauce see post above
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp sheet plus 2nori
  • 4 tsp Ocho Rios Ol' Harbour Fish Fry Seafood Seasoning divided (see post above)
  • 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs divided
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika divide
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
  • Escovitch sauce See recipe below
  • Escallion for garnish
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp Grays or Grace Jamaican Fish and Meat Sauce see post above
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp sheet plus 2nori
  • 4 tsp Ocho Rios Ol' Harbour Fish Fry Seafood Seasoning divided (see post above)
  • 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs divided
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika divide
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
  • Escovitch sauce See recipe below
  • Escallion for garnish
Instructions
  1. Cut potato in 4, lengthwise. Place each piece flat on a cutting board. With a paring knife, make a very thin cut lengthwise down the center of each piece, being sure to avoid cutting the edge. Make another thin cut right beside the first cut then gently use your knife to remove the piece of potato, creating a groove in the middle of the potato that becomes the "backbone" of the filet. Make shallow, closely spaced diagonal lines on each side of the backbone, that will become the "bones". Set aside in a shallow bowl.
  2. Add Fish and Meat Sauce to potato and combine. Crumble 2 tsp of nori, then sprinkle on potato. Cover and set aside to marinate for at least an hour.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F or 177 degrees C.
  4. Remove potato from bowl. Set on flat surface. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 1 tsp of Ocho Rios Ol' Harbour Fish Fry Seafood Seasoning to each of the potato. Firmly pat down 1 tbsp of panko breadcrumbs on each potato filet, then sprinkle with smoked paprika.
  5. In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp cornstarch with 1 tbsp water to create a glue. Cut nori sheet into 4 pieces. Brush the rough side of the nori sheet with cornstarch glue, making sure to get the edges. Turn over potato, and put nori sheet on unseasoned side of potato. Gently smooth out the nori sheet, making sure the edges are firmly attached to the potato filet. If nori sheet is large enough, you may bring sheet up the sides of the potato filet. This will become the filet "skin".
  6. Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Add oil and allow to heat for 1 minute. Add potato filet, breadcrumbs side down. Fry for 5 minutes until crispy, then turn over and fry "skin" for another 3 - 4 minutes.
  7. Put potato on an oven-safe tray and bake for 15 minutes.
  8. Add baked potato "skin" side down to escovitch sauce and gently cook for 1 minute, making sure to use a spoon to pour the sauce over potato. Garnish with fresh escallion and serve hot.
Recipe Notes

Wine Pairing Suggestion: Gew├╝rztraminer Riesling Grenache

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Print Recipe
Escovitch Sauce
A peppery, briny sauce with just a hint of sweetness and earthiness. Traditional Jamaican Escovitch marinade cooked into a sauce.
Course Sauces
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pimento berries allspice
  • 1 medium sweet onion thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup bell pepper (green yellow, red, orange)
  • 1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper thinly sliced with seeds removed
  • 2 garlic cloves finely diced
  • 1 stalk fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp cane sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp cold non-dairy butter like Earth Balance
  • Pinch of Salt
Course Sauces
Cuisine Jamaican
Servings
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pimento berries allspice
  • 1 medium sweet onion thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup bell pepper (green yellow, red, orange)
  • 1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper thinly sliced with seeds removed
  • 2 garlic cloves finely diced
  • 1 stalk fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp cane sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp cold non-dairy butter like Earth Balance
  • Pinch of Salt
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, add all ingredients except water, ketchup and salt. Allow to simmer on medium heat for 3 minutes.
  2. Add cup water and ketchup. Allow to simmer until water has been reduced to half - about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and finish with a pinch of salt.
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