Mackerel Escovitch

Escovitch Fish is a traditional Caribbean recipe of fried or grilled fish marinated in a spiced pickling liquor; it’s tart, spicy and a little sweet. The dish can be eaten hot or cold and is best served with bread for mopping up the liquor.

Found in this book

Ainsley's Caribbean Kitchen

Ebury Press


First, make the Bajan Salt. In a pestle and mortar, grind the parsley, thyme, marjoram, chilli and garlic to a fine paste with 2tbsp of salt. Add the cloves, allspice, pepper and the rest of the salt, mix and transfer to a bowl.

Lay the mackerel fillets in a deep roasting tray, skin-side down, and check again for small pin bones. Season with 3tbsp of the Bajan salt, making sure it is well covered, then cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge.

Meanwhile, in a non-metallic saucepan, combine the pickling liquor ingredients and bring to the boil. Add the shredded vegetables and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little.

Remove the mackerel from the fridge and turn the fillets skin-side up. Pour over the warm pickled vegetables, making sure the mackerel is well submerged. Cover tightly with clingfilm and chill for a further 1–2 hours.

Preheat the grill to hot.

Remove the mackerel fillets from the pickling liquor and place under the grill, skin-side up, for 3–4 minutes or until crispy.

Meanwhile, drain the pickled vegetables, reserving the liquor.

Evenly spread the pickled vegetables over a large serving plate, then lay the Bajan mackerel on top. Spoon a little of the pickling liquor around the plate and serve with watercress or rocket salad.



  • 4 x 100–125g large mackerel fillets, pin-boned and cut in half on an angle
  • 3 tbsp Bajan Salt
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely shredded (ideally on a mandoline)
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and finely shredded (ideally on a mandoline)
  • 1 red pepper, finely shredded (ideally on a mandoline)
  • 1⁄2 cucumber, halved, de-seeded and finely shredded (ideally on a mandoline)
  • watercress or rocket leaves, to serve
  • For the Pickling Liquor
  • 300ml white wine vinegar
  • 200ml water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 6 white peppercorns
  • 5 pimento berries
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • For the Bajan Salt (any left-over can be kept in an airtight container for up to a week)
  • a small handful of flat-leaf parsley
  • a small handful of fresh thyme
  • a small handful of fresh marjoram
  • 1 Scotch bonnet chilli, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 75g (2 3⁄4oz) sea salt
  • 1tsp ground cloves
  • 1tsp ground allspice
  • 1tsp black pepper