I only eat fried fish from one place, Hellshire in Jamaica and I always go there with my family the first Sunday after I arrive home. This is no regular experience, to have this fish is life-changing. There are several huts to choose from (we eat at Bev & Sons), but once you arrive you choose which fresh fish you want from a large cooler and they take it away to fry it. I always go for the biggest Red Snapper because I’m greedy like that. Then I order three festivals (best described as a Jamaican savory beignet made with cornmeal), ask for fish tea (which is a light fish soup) and take a seat at a table. Do not be mistaken, Hellshire is a rustic place but you would want it no other way: the hustle and bustle of vendors, the sand on your feet, the sea breeze, the baking sun, and random music in the background make up its distinctive character. After having fish tea we buy coconuts and drink the cold water and eat the jelly, this in itself is very filling but come to Hellshire prepared to be gluttonous and you will be happier for it.
The fish will arrive and all talking will cease because it’s time for business. As I demolish the fish I am continuously reapplying Escoveitch Sauce. This sauce is a huge component that separates the fry fish you have been eating to the fry fish you need to be eating. It is tangy with vinegar and onions, hot and fragrant from scotch bonnet peppers and seasoned with the pimento. We always have to ask for extra sauce; my sister has made me carry a jar full of Escoveitch sauce from Hellshire all the way to London because it is that serious. The recipe for this sauce will bring a taste of Jamaica to your kitchen in 10 minutes and you will be amazed by the flavour. I think it tastes good with fried chicken also but feel free to experiment and enjoy the island vibe wherever in the world you are.
Live, Love, Eat!
- 1.5 cups cane vinegar (any vinegar will do)
- 2 onions, sliced in rings
- 1/2 carrot, peeled and grated
- 10 pimento seeds
- 1 large scotch bonnet pepper
- Bring the vinegar to a boil and then simmer until you have completed prepping all the ingredients and put them into a bowl.
- Pour the vinegar over the ingredients and cover for five minutes.