Jamaican Steamed Fish

  • Serves

    serves 4

Lining the skillet with sliced onions and allspice berries imparts a subtle, warm fragrance and flavor to the fish, a secret we learned from the Jamaican cook who showed us this dish. NOTE: The fish must be prepared in advance and refrigerated overnight.


  • 4 (8-oz.) red snapper filets
  • Juice of 1 key lime, or juice of 1⁄2 small lime
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and sliced into rings
  • 1 small chayote, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 small green or red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 10-12 allspice berries
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 12 tsp. minced scotch bonnet chiles
  • 14 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • Leaves from 3–4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and crushed


Step 1

Arrange fish in a single layer, skin side down, in a wide glass or ceramic dish. Sprinkle lime juice over fish and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Step 2

Melt 2 tbsp. of the butter in a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Scatter onions, chayote (if using), bell peppers, allspice, and half of the garlic, chiles, ginger, and thyme in bottom of skillet. Add lemongrass. Remove fish from marinade and arrange skin side down over vegetables. Discard marinade. Scatter the remaining garlic, chiles, ginger, and thyme over fish and dot with remaining 2 tbsp. butter. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, basting occasionally, until fish is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Discard lemongrass before serving.

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