Last night I experimented wtih this recipe for the first time and it ended up tasting really great. But I am left with the question I often have - was it authentic? So I have a few questions for anyone who might have knowledge of this dish and is willing to help me out.
First, a few points to clarify what I did. I did not marinate the cooked fish in the sauce overnight or eat it cold as I know is often done. I might try that next, but for now let's just focus on the fresh, hot preparation of the dish. Second, I did not use whole fish, I used filets. I wanted red snapper, but they didn't have that on hand so I used swai. Not particularly flavorful, but it was what they had fresh and it ended up doing pretty well. I looked at a number of escoveitch recipes and cobbled them together to form what I thought would be the best union of all of them - it included julienned red and green peppers, a scotch bonnet which I halved and simmered in the sauce but removed at the end, some shredded carrot, a medium onion also julienned, some bay leaf, about a tsp of whole allspice, some grated ginger, and simmered the whole lot of that in about a 2-1 ratio of vinegar to water. Once the veggies were tender I pulled it off the heat, fried the fish and ladled some sauce and veggies on top.
Ok, now here's my questions:
-I've seen recipes where you strain the liquid after simmering and just use the flavored vinegar, I've seen recipes where you strain the liquid after simmering and just use the "pickled" veg to garnish the fish, and I've seen recipes which recommend using it as is, like I did. I liked using both but again would be curious as to what the most traditional application is. Addtionally, while the brightly colored veggies on top of the fish are beautiful, the puddle of yellowish vinegar sauce that forms under and around the fish on your plate isn't all that appealing. Any thoughts or suggestions? Or am I just being nitpicky and that is how the sauce looks?
-I felt like the allspice was a little too powerful in the dish. Next time I try, I'm going to back it off to a half tsp, but I also noticed that it wasn't the flavor of the allspice that bothered me as much as it was the aroma. One thought I had was to put the allspice in a sachet (sp?) during the simmer so that they're not on the plate when served. This is good cause (a) they're not good to eat whole, at least in my opinion, and (b) they wont be sitting atop the fish to waft up to my nose each time my face nears the plate. Any other suggestions to solve this riddle would be welcome.
-Finally, I have a question about veggie ratios. With a few variations, most of the recipes I found include bell peppers, carrots, and onion. I ended up with a ratio of about 1.5 (onion) to 1 (peppers) to 0.5 (carrots). This may just be a personal preference thing but I felt like it was too heavy on the onion. This time the solution is easy, but from a perspective of accuracy or authenticity, is this supposed to be a pickled onion preparation with peppers and carrots, or a pickled pepper preparation (say that five times fast) with onions and carrots? Forgive me if this last question is annoying - I can see how it would be - I just like to know how a dish should taste as a baseline before I start messing with it.
Alright - any help, suggestions, or personal escoveitch recipes will be gladly welcome. Thanks!