Jamaican Recipes: Brown Stew Fish
If you have been following my recipes, you would have realized that Jamaicans like several things:
- They like their meats with a bit of colour, preferably brown.
- They like brown stewed stuff.
- They use a lot of seasonings.
- They like a lot of gravy and sauces with their meats.
- I could go on and on...
This dish of brown stew fish is no different. If you read my brown stew chicken recipe, you will realize that this fish dish is prepared similar to the chicken dish except for a few variations.
What you should know about Jamaican homestyle cooking
I make the reference to homestyle cooking because there are those dishes that are prepared for restaurants or functions that cannot be classified as homestyle. The term homestyle refers to how the authentic Jamaican or the middle to lower class or country people cook their meals.
If you visit Jamaica, in order to get the real flavour of the island you need to become acquainted with some one living in the country side, someone who cooks at home. Eating at a restaurant is all good and the food tastes great but unless it's a cook-shop where the working class operates a business you will not get the real flavours that Jamaican love. Eating at a five start hotel will get you a gourmet style Jamaican meal.
- 3 serving size fishes, scaled, gutted and cleansed
- 1/2 large onion or 1 medium, sliced
- 1 stalk scallion, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 green scotch bonnet
- 1 tbsp. fish spice or your favourite meat spice, extra for making sauce
- 1/2 tsp. salt, (optional)
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil, (or a little less)
- 1/2 cup chopped tomato
- OR 2 tsbp. catchup, (optional)
- OR 1 tsbp. tomato paste, (optional)
- 1 cup water
- Your fish must be scaled and gutted. In a bowl add about 2 tablespoons vinegar and 6 cups water, rinse the fish then pat dry.
- Cut each fish is half. This part is optional. You may choose to cook the fish whole so long as each fish is a serving size for one person. In my recipe one person will have two pieces per serving.
- In a small bowl combine your salt, black pepper and fish (or your favourite) spice.
- Season each piece of fish with the spice. Remember to open the gill and rub some spice inside the head and inside the belly area. You can marinate the fish if you like but you can also cook immediately.
- Heat your vegetable oil in a skillet on medium high until smoking.
- Add each piece of fish to the oil. Make sure there is room to manoeuvre the fish when turning so I would suggest frying one or two pieces at a time. Fry fish on each side until brown.
- Set fish aside when fried and drain excess oil leaving about three tablespoons. Add prepared garlic, onion, scallion, tomatoes (or tomato paste or catchup), extra spice (about a teaspoon) and thyme to oil. If you don't have tomatoes use 1 tablespoon tomato paste or 2 tablespoons tomato catchup. On low lames cover and let seasoning cook for tow minutes then increase flames and add water
- Note: If using catchup fry seasoning until catchup starts to stick to the pot then add water.
- Return fish to pan with the green scotch bonnet pepper and cover. Make sure the pepper is solid and not cut or open or the fish might be too spicy. Bring to the boil and reduce flames to medium low.
- Taste and salt to taste. Fish is done when sauce has thickened a bit.
In this recipe I am using one of the specie of grunt fish, not sure exactly which one though. We call all fish from this specie 'grunt'.
We serve this dish with cooked brown rice, rice and peas, dumplings or what Jamaicans call ground provisions. These are yellow yam, white yams, taro, potatoes (both white or sweet) and cassava. Brown stew fish can also be served with a salad or steamed vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and carrot. Just about any staple can be had with this dish.
© 2012 Carolee Samuda