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Jamaican Brown Stew Fish
Quick And Simple Recipe For A Tasty Meal

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Jamaican Brown Stew Fish | (Photo Credit: thatgirlcookshealthy)Jamaican Brown Stew Fish | (Photo Credit: thatgirlcookshealthy)

by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

For the most part, when you think of authentic Jamaican fish dishes the first options to come to mind are probably escoveitch, steamed fish and grilled fish. But one fish dish that is not brought up often is our brown stew fish. It is a delicious way to prepare fish especially if you are health conscious and trying to limit your intake of oily foods. It is quick and easy to prepare, nourishing, and goes well with just about anything.


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In Jamaica, brown stew fish is had at all times of the day. Granted we do have a culture where we eat “heavy” meals throughout the day. So, a dish of brown stew fish served with boiled dumplings and ground provisions like yam, dasheen and banana, will be found at many small street-side restaurants for as early as breakfast. For lunch and dinner, you will most often see it paired with rice and peas.

It is a truly authentic Jamaican dish that is not only found on restaurant menus but is prepared at home quite often as well.

What Fish Should I Use To Make Jamaican Brown Stew Fish?

It can be prepared with any of your favourite fish but it is often prepared with red snapper, kingfish, jack or sliced trout.

How Is Brown Stew Fish Prepared?

There are quite a few ways that you can prepare this dish and they all pretty much produce similar results.

  • One of the most common methods is to half fry your fish first, giving the fish a light brown coating, with this method you don’t have to use any browning and you completely avoid the risk of using too much browning and making the dish too dark or bitter.

  • The second way is to mix a small amount of browning with water before adding it to your fish.

  • And the final method is to replace traditional bottled browning by creating your own by caramelizing sugar until it's a dark brown, what Jamaicans refer to as “burning the sugar”. The risk with this one is if you use too much sugar or burn the sugar for too long the dish will be super dark and bitter, making it unappealing to look at and not very tasty.

Here is a simple recipe for preparing Jamaican Brown Stew Fish.

Jamaican Brown Stew Fish Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • Fish (choose your favourite, red snapper is a great option)
  • Irish
  • Carrots
  • Tablespoon of oil (vegetable, coconut or olive oil)
  • Escallion, thyme and pimento seeds
  • Scotch bonnet pepper and your favourite bell peppers
  • Tomato, garlic and onion
  • Vinegar or lime juice
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Fish seasoning (optional)
  • Browning 
  • Grace Fish and meat Sauce (optional)

PROCEDURE

  1. Prepare your fish. This is possibly the most difficult part if you didn't purchase fish that is already prepped. You will need to scale and gut your fish. Once you have done that, wash thoroughly in a mixture of vinegar and water or lime juice and water. Once your fish is clean, make two slant slices on both sides of your fish. Do not slice them all the way through.

  2. Season your fish. To season your fish, you can simply use a mixture of salt and black pepper along with some of your favourite powdered fish seasoning. Adding the fish seasoning is completely optional as you will be adding many natural seasonings to the fish. Massage the seasonings into the fish including the middle of the fish and the slits that you made on each side. At this point, you can also add a drop or two of browning to the fish and massage it in as well.

  3. Prepare your vegetables and seasonings. Here, you will need onions, thyme, escallion and pimento allspice. Wash, peel and cut your Irish potatoes and carrots into small thin pieces. You do not want to cut them too thick as fish cooks quickly and your potatoes and carrots won’t have a lot of time to cook. Wash and cut the rest of your vegetables and seasonings into thin slices as well. Be mindful of the amount of pepper you are using, you don’t want it to be too spicy.

  4. You are now prepped and ready to cook. In a skillet or dutch pot, add a small amount of oil and allow to heat up for a few seconds then add all your chopped seasonings minus the Irish potatoes and carrots to the pot. Stir, cover and allow to sweat on low heat for around 3 minutes. 

  5. Add Your Browning. Once the three minutes have passed, add the carrots and potatoes, then, in a small cup or dish, add a few drops of browning to some water and add to the pot. The mixture should only be enough to cover the vegetables already in the pot. Allow to cook for an additional 3 minutes or until the carrots and Irish potatoes are tender.

  6. Add Your Fish To The Pot. The next step is to add your fish to the pot, cover and allow to cook on low heat. Most fish won't take more than 10 minutes to be fully cooked. This depends on how many are in the pot as well, just use your judgement. Throughout the cooking time base your fish a few times so the top of the fish can also absorb some of the colour and flavours. Do not try flipping the fish and risk it breaking or falling apart. When the fish is almost done you can add some fish and meat sauce to the pot and allow it to cook for another 2 minutes.

And you’re done! Carefully remove fish from the pot and serve with a side of your choice. Happy Eating!

Jamaican brown stew fish is one you should be adding to your weekly meal options, and if you have tried it before and didn’t like it, try this recipe and see if your opinion will change.

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References & Sources For Jamaican Brown Stew Fish

  1. Jamaican Sweet Brown Stew Fish Recipe, https://jamaicans.com/brownstew/
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