Jamaican Recipes: Brown Stew Fish


If you have been following my recipes you would have realized that Jamaicans like several things:

  • They like their meats with a bit of colour preferable brown
  • They like brown stewed stuff
  • They use a lot of seasonings
  • They like a lot of gravy and sauces with their meats
  • I could go on and on

This dish of brown stew fish is no different. If you read my Brown Stew Chicken recipe you will realize that this fish dish is prepared similar to the chicken dish except for a few variations.

What you should know about Jamaican homestyle cooking

I make the reference to homestyle cooking because there are those dishes that are prepared for restaurants or functions that cannot be classified as homestyle. The term homestyle refers to how the authentic Jamaican or the middle to lower class or country people cook their meals.

If you visit Jamaica, in order to get the real flavour of the island you need to become acquainted with some one living in the country side, someone who cooks at home. Eating at a restaurant is all good and the food tastes great but unless it's a cook-shop where the working class operates a business you will not get the real flavours that Jamaican love. Eating at a five start hotel will get you a gourmet style Jamaican meal.

4.7 stars from 3 ratings of Brown Stew Fish

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 15 min
Yields: 3 servings


  • 3 serving size fishes, scaled, gutted and cleansed
  • 1/2 large onion or 1 medium, sliced
  • 1 stalk scallion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 green scotch bonnet
  • 1 tbsp. fish spice or your favourite meat spice, extra for making sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, (optional)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, (or a little less)
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • OR 2 tsbp. catchup, (optional)
  • OR 1 tsbp. tomato paste, (optional)
  • 1 cup water


  1. Your fish must be scaled and gutted. In a bowl add about 2 tablespoons vinegar and 6 cups water, rinse the fish then pat dry.
  2. Cut each fish is half. This part is optional. You may choose to cook the fish whole so long as each fish is a serving size for one person. In my recipe one person will have two pieces per serving.
  3. In a small bowl combine your salt, black pepper and fish (or your favourite) spice.
  4. Season each piece of fish with the spice. Remember to open the gill and rub some spice inside the head and inside the belly area. You can marinate the fish if you like but you can also cook immediately.
  5. Heat your vegetable oil in a skillet on medium high until smoking.
  6. Add each piece of fish to the oil. Make sure there is room to manoeuvre the fish when turning so I would suggest frying one or two pieces at a time. Fry fish on each side until brown.
  7. Set fish aside when fried and drain excess oil leaving about three tablespoons. Add prepared garlic, onion, scallion, tomatoes (or tomato paste or catchup), extra spice (about a teaspoon) and thyme to oil. If you don't have tomatoes use 1 tablespoon tomato paste or 2 tablespoons tomato catchup. On low lames cover and let seasoning cook for tow minutes then increase flames and add water
  8. Note: If using catchup fry seasoning until catchup starts to stick to the pot then add water.
  9. Return fish to pan with the green scotch bonnet pepper and cover. Make sure the pepper is solid and not cut or open or the fish might be too spicy. Bring to the boil and reduce flames to medium low.
  10. Taste and salt to taste. Fish is done when sauce has thickened a bit.

In this recipe I am using one of the specie of grunt fish, not sure exactly which one though. We call all fish from this specie 'grunt'.

We serve this dish with cooked brown rice, rice and peas, dumplings or what Jamaicans call ground provisions. These are yellow yam, white yams, taro, potatoes (both white or sweet) and cassava. Brown stew fish can also be served with a salad or steamed vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and carrot. Just about any staple can be had with this dish.

© 2012 Carolee Samuda

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Comments 20 comments

Don Bobbitt profile image

Don Bobbitt 4 years ago from Ruskin Florida

Great looking Recipe and I can't wait to give it a try. Thanks Cardisa for a wonderful looking entrée.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks Don, I hope you like it. We enjoyed some yesterday the man of the house ate it all...lol

xstatic profile image

xstatic 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Sounds and looks delicious! Do you use any certain kind of fish or anything that is available?

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Mr. Xstatic, we normally use snapper, king fish steaks and parrots....yes I know we aren't supposed to be eating those because they keep the reef clean but they taste so good. I guess any firm flesh fish would do. No tuna or salmon. One fish should weigh about half a pound.

xstatic profile image

xstatic 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Thanks Cardisa! Of the three, snapper is generally available this far North. We will be trying this!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

You are welcome. Please come back and rate me when you have tried it....hope you like it.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Brown is good, especially when it comes to food. If I ever get to Jamaica, I will look for the cook-shops so that I can enjoy some real home cooking. Thanks for sharing this yummy dish recipe. By the way, your plate is really pretty (not brown, but still pretty).

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks Teaches. I was wondering if that section made sense at all...lol. That's my favourite plate!

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Thanks for the introduction to cooking fish in brown sauce. It's a real twist for me but I like Jamaican food so I'll give it a try!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks Green Lotus. This is a very popular way of cooking fish here in Jamaica. I hope you like it.

Cassandra Goduti profile image

Cassandra Goduti 4 years ago from Guilford, Connecticut

It looks terrifically tasty.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thank you Cassandra. Have a nice day.

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

This recipe sounds like a must-try! Your wonderful photos made me so hungry. By the way, I also enjoy brown stewed stuff and like to use lots of seasoning, gravy and sauces on my food. Maybe I should start telling people that I'm Jamaican! lol

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Om, you should definitely tell people you are Jamaican and when they ask you to prove it just tell them you love brown stew stuff...lol. I hope you like this!

marinade for barbecue 4 years ago

Thank you for sharing your work and impressions. I love your choices. http://www.cattleboyz.com/

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Nothing like authentic food done by locals. We are blessed to have you share these delicious and nutritious recipes!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks Marinade, nice having you visit.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks Rebecca, I am really honoured to be able to share our local dishes. I really appreciate the support.

epigramman profile image

epigramman 4 years ago

lovely hub Carolee - always a world class presentation and your writing always makes me hungry although I'm not necessarily referring to the food either - lol lol

Hope sincerely that you are well and happy - so nice to connect with you - now I feel my day is complete - and could you do this ep-man a favor and check out my buddy Maria's hubs - her name at the Hub is SCRITTOBENE - thanks for that - and sending you warm wishes and good energy from lake erie time 11:15am

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks Epi and I will check out Maria's hubs for sure. thanks for always leaving such warm and wonderful comments. I am happy but extremely busy. Thanks for checking in.

Lots of hugs

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    Carolee Samuda (Cardisa)1,139 Followers
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    Carolee is a passionate writer with a love for learning and teaching. She is a published author, poet, blogger and content creator.

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