By Minna LaFortune

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 29, 2016: It is a must for non-Caribbean nationals, because it is like no other in the world. Fish cuisine in the Caribbean consists of both salted and fresh fish and is prepared with the freshest herbs and spices.

It’s difficult to name ones favorite because of the variety of ways both salted and fresh fish are prepared.

Some of the various types of fish consumed in the Caribbean and by Caribbean nationals the world over are as follows:

Salted Fish

Cod fish aka Bacalao or Salt Fish




Fresh Fish

Snapper fish

Goat fish

Parrot fish

Butter Fish

Doctor fish

King fish

Jack fish


Salted fish, like bacalao/aka Saltfish/codfish, shad, herring and mackerel, are most times prepared with sautéed tomatoes, onions, scallions, garlic, thyme, scotch and bonnet pepper in coconut oil and served with ground provisions and dumplings (boiled flour dumplings or cornmeal dumplings, or fried flour dumplings, bakes, or festival.)

They are also served with fried plantains and fried roast breadfruit. Dishes prepared with salted fish are served as breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Sometimes cod fish is roasted and is used to accompany roasted yam, breadfruit and roasted green banana. Cod fish and salted herring is also used to make a salad that is often filled with very mild to hot peppers finely chopped onions and tomatoes, mixed with olive oil and served chilled with hard crackers or hard dough bread.

In Jamaica, cooked codfish is mixed with cooked Ackee and sautéed with onions, tomatoes etc. to create Jamaica’s national dish ‘Ackee and Saltfish.’

Other vegetables that are added to codfish include cabbage, calaloo, Bak Choy, okra and choyote. Also in Jamaica, salted herring is seasoned with hot scotch bonnet peppers and onions and grounded into a paste which is spread on crackers and served as a finger food.

Codfish is also used to make fritters or small cakes, which is also a finger food – a favorite among most if not all Caribbean nationals!

In Antigua, in the dish called Chop Up, codfish is mixed with okra, eggplant and calaloo and served as a breakfast food.

In Haiti, the cooked salted herring and cod fish are  put into flakey pastry or biscuit dough and served as finger foods at parties.

In Jamaica, salted mackerel is cooked in reduced coconut milk until it becomes a custard with sautéed onions, scallion, garlic and tomatoes. This is usually served as a breakfast, lunch or dinner meal .

Fresh Fish on the other hand is usually prepared fried, Escoveitched (vinaigrette sauce spiced with scotched bonnet peppers), steamed, boiled, grilled or roasted.

Sprat, King fish, snapper, parrot, butter and goat fish are usually prepared fried or Escoveitched. When fried or Escoveitched, they are usually served with Bammy (cassava bread), hard dough bread, ground provision, including boiled dumplings or  fried dumplings or festival or roasted or fried breadfruit.

When steaming fish, the best fish is selected. Snapper fish, (which is a favorite among Caribbean nationals), butter fish, King fish, goat fish or Doctor fish are usually enjoyed steamed or stewed. Doctor fish is mostly steamed).

When steamed, they are served with ground provisions or with rice and peas, white rice or polenta/cooked cornmeal. Fresh fish is also steamed stuffed with calaloo, or cabbage or cooked with okra steamed wrapped in foil on the BBQ grill.

The heads of large fresh snapper, jack, or King fish is sometimes steamed as a breakfast item or cooked in a curry sauce and served as lunch or dinner with ground provision

Fresh fish is also roasted or grilled on the BBQ grill. This is usually done as part of the menu at a party where a lot of men are attending as some men consider eating fish a sure aphrodisiac. Roasted or grilled fish is eaten with roasted breadfruit, roasted plantain or steamed vegetables.

Fresh fish is boiled in soups or in fish tea. Fresh fish heads or whole fresh fish soup is a very special soup for Caribbean nationals, in particular Haitians, Guyanese and Jamaicans.

Fish tea is a light fish broth that is served as a first course and to convalescing persons.

In  the Spanish speaking Caribbean islands,  fresh fish is prepared in a dish called ceviche, in which fresh fish is eaten raw after it is mixed with lime juice and other spices and marinated.

I love both salted and fresh fish and it is difficult to name a favorite fish dish.Today, however, I will share with you the recipe for Jamaican Brown Stewed Snapper.


2 lb. large Snapper

1 medium onion sliced

Two cloves of chopped Garlic

Salt & Pepper

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoon of chopped scallion

2 Sprigs of thyme

1 tablespoon butter

4 cups water/fish stock

1 tablespoon flour

Oil for frying

2 tablespoons ketchup


Wash fresh snapper fish with lime or lemon and season with salt and black pepper.

Marinate for one to two hours.

Dry fish, flour lightly and fry fish until completely cooked.

In a separate pot, sauté the onions, garlic and scallions in oil or butter.

Take out and put to the side.

Slowly add flour to oil or butter in pot making a roux. Add water or fish broth and allow to come to a boil. Add soy sauce. Then add ketchup.

Allow sauce to cook.

Add pepper & salt to taste.

Add fried fish to sauce the fish.

Add the thyme and the sautéed seasoning.

Add 1 tablespoon butter.

Simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve with rice and peas, steam vegetables or ground provisions.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Minna LaFortune is a trained Caribbean caterer and also president, Society for the Advancement of the Caribbean Diaspora (SACD). Check out her food group on Facebook at


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