Scotch bonnet peppers (also known as Caribbean peppers) is a variety of chili peppers found mainly in the Caribbean islands.
One of my favourite dish is Jamaican style escovitch fish. Escovitch is a term used for fried meat (usually fish) that is doused with a mixture of pickled peppers, onions, and carrots. Growing up my mother would make this dish during Easter with either cod, snapper or kingfish. She would sauté vegetables and peppers in vinegar for a few minutes before serving. Since vinegar can be used as a form of preservation I thought it would be a great idea for this assignment.
Some recipes include cauliflower , papaya and/or caraili (also known as bitter melon) in the pickled solution. I decided to keep it simple and stick with the recipe from my mother since she was my inspiration.
1 ½ cup scotch bonnet peppers, sliced with tops and seeds removed
½ cup yellow bell peppers, slice
1 carrot (I tried to be fancy and made some into designs)
1 ½ cup vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crush
5 pimento seeds
2 sprigs of thyme
*Pair of gloves & goggles.
*Scotch bonnet peppers have a heat rating of 100,000 to 350 000 SHU. In comparison, most jalapeno peppers have a heat rating of 2,500 to 8,000 SHU. Halfway through slicing I had to use goggles because the vapors were too much for me to handle.
- Slice peppers into ½ cm pieces. Remove the tops and most of the seeds. Slice carrots, onions, and bell peppers into desired shapes.
- In a sterilized jar place sliced peppers, onions, carrots and bell peppers.
- Bring vinegar to a boil with crush garlic cloves. When vinegar comes to a boil remove garlic and pour mixture in jar. Add thyme and pimento seeds. Let cool before sealing with lid.
During the 16th century the Spanish ruled the island of Jamaica. Their influence can be seen in a few classical Jamaican dishes such as, escovitch fish. The word escovitch is a variation of the Spanish word escabeche, which is used to describe a pickled dish. In the days of no refrigerator pickling was a great way of keeping food from spoiling.
This traditional dish is similar to ceviche in most Latin countries. The main differences is that the fish is fried rather than raw and civiche is made with lime rather than vinegar.
I allowed the peppers and vegetables to pickle for 14 days before using.
The Look: During the pickling process the external appearance of most of the ingredients changed.
- The onions turned transparent.
- The carrots, and yellow bell pepper remained the same colour.
- The green scotch bonnet peppers lost their colour completely. They turned yellow and appeared washed out.
- Shockingly the red scotch bonnet peppers remained the same colour.
The smell: The best way to describe the smell would be a spiced vinaigrette. Although I removed the garlic before jarring I was able to smell hints of it.
The touch: The ingredients lost their crispness and became soft. They had the texture of sautéd vegetables.
The taste: A pungent spicy taste.
Overall I thought my pickling was somewhat successful. As someone who likes spicy food they were a bit too spicy for me If I was to make them again I would add a tablespoon (or two) of sugar to balance out the taste of the peppers. . I enjoyed them but had to be very careful not to add too many to my meal.