I’m back with new recipes within my Julie & Julia challenge from the Panamanian recipe book T’ach, by chef Charlie Collins.

This week we continue touring the province of Colón and discovering those very special flavors inherited from our Caribbean roots.

Today’s recipe is for marinated or pickled fish, a typical Afro-Caribbean meal, probably brought to Panama during the construction of the canal, although its origins are ancient as this way of preparing food was already mentioned in the book Arabian nights!

As for the adaptations that I had to make in expat format, I was researching and the fish that is mentioned in the original recipe, the sierra, is from the same family as mackerel, tuna or bonito; so I decided to use mackerels which are smaller and have a great flavor. For the rest, I only replaced the chombo pepper with fresh chilli and the prepared mustard that I used was Dijon.

Ingredients for the fish

  • 3 pounds sliced sierra, mackerel, mackerel, or other similar fish
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • pepper to taste
  • juice of two lemons
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 3 culantro leaves
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup of water
  • flour and oil for frying

Ingredients for the marinade or garnish

  • Olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper and one green bell pepper, cut into julienne strips
  • 1 large julienned onion
  • 1/2 minced chombo pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • juice of two lemons
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 10 grains (or 1/2 teaspoon powder) allspice


Clean the fish and put it in a large bowl, season with salt, pepper, lemon and curry. Blend together onion, garlic, cilantro and the cup of water and add this mixture to the fish. Rub it well so the flavors are well absorbed. We can even leave it to rest for a while before frying.

Coat the fish pieces with flour and fry until golden brown on all sides. Drain and reserve.

To make the garnish in which we will marinate the fish, pour olive oil into a large pan, sautè peppers, onion and the chombo chili. When they are soft, add the bay leaves and oregano and cook for another minute. Then add mustard, vinegar, lemon juice and peppercorns. Cook over low heat for 5 more minutes, remove from heat and pour over the fish.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, turning the pieces from time to time so that the fish is soaked on all sides in the liquid.

The escoviched is served cold.


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