Jamaican Brown Stew Fish

Fried whole fish, simmered in a sweet and savory sauce

Brown Stew Fish - A quintessential Jamaican dish of fried fish then simmered in a sweet and tangy sauce. #HomeMadeZagat

If you have not had brown stew fish yet, then I suggest you grab a fish somewhere after reading this and get to cooking. This is a quintessential Jamaican dish. One of their very popular street foods. I am not sure which other islands can really boast to having brown stew fish as I think about it. The not too sweet, a little tangy flavor really makes for an amazing meal.

I really only got into brown stew fish when I moved to South Florida.

What is this brown stew?

In Trinidad and Tobago (which going forward I'm just going to start referring to as TnT as we do, 'cause we lazy) we stew using brown sugar. Melt the sugar and add the meat as I did with my stew chicken. Whenever I tell my Jamaican friends about the process they respond, "Oh, you guys make sweet chicken". Fresh!!

The Jamaican brown stew is a fried fish (brown) that simmers in a sauce made up of different sweets and sours (the stew).

Anyway enough of my Caribbean lesson and back to the amazingness.

Brown Stew Fish - A quintessential Jamaican dish of fried fish then simmered in a sweet and tangy sauce. #HomeMadeZagat

I have a fear of frying that I am still working on trying to conquer, so when the Jamaican half decided to jump in and make this for me, I (and my belly) was all too happy to just be the photographer today.

Snapper is very popular to use for brown stew, and it's very popular fish in South Florida. I know people also use parrot fish but I never have. But I think any whole fish that is fleshy would do great. Have your butcher clean the fish for you and cut it into 3 pieces. I HATE cleaning fish so I will definitely always pay the little extra to have them scale it for me.

Once fried it's all about letting the fish simmer down in the sauce that you're going to make. A nice low bubble of onions, thyme, pimento seeds. Flavor, flavor, flavor.

Brown Stew Fish - A quintessential Jamaican dish of fried fish then simmered in a sweet and tangy sauce. #HomeMadeZagat

Once that's simmering, you can take the time to whip up something to eat with the fish. I don't really like anything too much with it when I do eat it. Nothing to compete. Some mashed potatoes, or cabbage salad, or if you want to some calypso rice would be good.

Once that's done, let's plate.

Brown Stew Fish - A quintessential Jamaican dish of fried fish then simmered in a sweet and tangy sauce. #HomeMadeZagat


The fish has a crisp outside from the frying and tender inside. The sauce is sweet but tangy and works well with the salted skin of the fried fish. With all that flavor the simple taste of the mashed potatoes makes a great combination.

What side would you pair with this fish?




Jamaican Brown Stew Fish
Brown Stew Fish - A quintessential Jamaican dish of fried fish then simmered in a sweet and tangy sauce. #HomeMadeZagat
by Home Made Zagat
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Keywords: fry saute entree fish Caribbean
Ingredients (Serves 2)
  • 1 med whole fish cleaned and cut into 3
  • 1 lime
  • Oil for frying
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
  • !/2 large green pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 Pimento seeds
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 11/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
Instructions
Wash fish with water and juice of the lime. Pat dry
Mix salt and pepper together
Generously season fish pieces with salt and pepper mixture
Heat saucepan with enough oil to fry fish (deep fry not needed)
Fry fish till golden brown and flipping to the other side
Place fish on sheets to drain.
Discard used oil and wash and dry saucepan
Heat pan on medium heat
Add 3 tbsp of oil to saucepan
Add green pepper, onion, thyme, pimento seeds, tomato and scallions to oil
Stir continuously for 2 - 3 minutes. (Until onions are opaque)
Mix together water, ketchup and vinegar
Add fish back to saucepan
Add water mixture
Spoon liquid over fish and vegetables
Cover and leave to simmer on low heat for 20 minutes
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Brown Stew Fish - A quintessential Jamaican dish of fried fish then simmered in a sweet and tangy sauce. #HomeMadeZagat
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