This dessert-like sauce has all the flavors of Jamaican esquid — sweet peppers and sauteed onions, awakened with plenty of vinegar and cayenne pepper, scented with fresh thyme and ground with a dash of allspice. It can be served warm or at room temperature. Here, it is poured over grilled mahi mahi and rubbed with spices, but you can substitute another grill-friendly fish like halibut or tilapia, stew or grill for any type of fish instead.
The amount of chili here gives the sauce a mild heat and numbness of the tongue, but you can definitely increase that if you like things spicy; Dilute it with a milder pepper such as jalapeño or leave the chili out completely. If you make the sauce in advance, you may want to add a little vinegar before serving, as the acidity fades with storage, and you definitely want a bright, quick pickle flavor here.
total time: 30 minutes
Storage notes: Store the sauce in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days; Serve warm or at room temperature.
Tested size: 4 servings
- for the sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into small cubes
1 small yellow onion, cut into small cubes (1 cup)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 garlic clove, minced or finely grated
1/4 Scotch chile bonnet or habanero peppers, seeded and diced small, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/8 teaspoon ground spices
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, plus more to taste
- for fish
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic granules
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Four (5 to 6 ounces) skinless mahi mahi fillets or other firm white fish fillets
2 teaspoons olive oil
Make the sauce: In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add paprika, onion, thyme, garlic, Scotch bonnet pepper, salt, and spices, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are slightly softened but still crispy, about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables have softened a little more but still retain some crispiness, 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to serve or refrigerate until needed.
Make the fish: In a small bowl, whisk together paprika, granulated garlic, salt, and pepper until combined. Pat dry the fish and then spray it with oil, rubbing it in to distribute it evenly throughout the fish. Sprinkle both sides of the fillets with the seasoning mixture.
Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat (see note). Grill the fish until completely cooked through and grill marks are formed, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve the fish with the sauce.
To prepare the grill: If using a gas grill, set it to 450 degrees. If you are using a charcoal grill, fill a chimney with charcoal, light it and when the charcoal is grayish-white with ash, pour it into the charcoal grate, add more charcoal, if necessary, and put the lid on the grill, making sure the vents are open all the way. When all the coals are gray and hot, for about 15 minutes, the grill should be on medium heat. (Use a grill thermometer or test the heat by holding your hand, palm pressing about 4 inches from the grill for about 4 seconds.)
From cookbook author and registered dietitian Eli Krieger.
Tested by Olga Masov.
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