Parrot Fish for Cooking
Mr. Nathan Checks out Parrot Fish

They say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Well, we’re not in Rome. …Although at one point this would have been Rome…We’re in Southern London, in the area of Croydon. It’s our first time staying in an airbnb, and I’m loving it! I feel like showing up to a community blind is a little like crashing a wedding. The goods are already supplied, one just needs to join the party!

This little ‘town’ area, Thornton Heath, proved right off the bat to be very diverse. So diverse, in fact, that we as an American family don’t even stand out! The grocery store has food selections from all over the world, and a simple walk a few blocks in any direction offers Middle Eastern, African, Asian, Caribbean, Eastern European, Classic British, and any cuisine in-between. If I’m going to eat local, where do I start?!!!!


My first day, and a tradition I plan to uphold, I simply walked alone up and down each side of the street, in this case that would be High Street, looking at the freshest offerings, and particularly something new I’ve never had. Why alone? Let’s just say it’s much more fun and relaxing for me to peruse that for Andrew or Nathan.


This day, it wasn’t the first fish market, or even the second, but the third or fourth stand of iced fish that held something to truly spark my interest. I could see the blue-green hue of these fish all the way from the street, standing out like peacocks in chicken coop. My suspicions were confirmed by the shop owner; Parrot Fish!


Now, trying not to be too eager about buying, I decided to go home and research some ideas. This is how I stumbled upon Caribbean Brown Stew. Having NO ingredients or spices to work with I felt that the basics to make it would be easily enough obtained and any left-overs useful for other applications:

2 Fish, a lemon, one head of garlic, salt and pepper, allspice, tomatoes, green onions, an orange bell pepper, one scotch bonnet chili, fresh thyme, and a chunk of ginger.

Ingredients for Caribbean Brown StewThe next day I hit the market and purchased our fish. To be honest, this is the very first time I have bought fish direct from a fishmonger! (Versus a the supermarket display case.) Nathan was THRILLED with my choice! He thought they were really cute!


Now, I’ll stop for just a second to address what might be an elephant in the room. Yes, I have heard that there is a huge following to protect parrot fish from consumption, and with good reason! They help our coral reefs, which do need much help, by consuming dead coral and algae. It’s going to sound two-faced, but I am on ‘team-no-parrot-fish’ however, I am also a fan of trying new things. I want to assume that these fish have been taken legally from a sustainable source. In any case they had already be captured so in some respects I’m not contributing to the problem, but on the other point, if no one ate them (including me) no one would fish them. So I’ll set myself here and take any appropriate criticism, but yes, in the end we did cook two parrot fish. We also enjoyed them very much. The meat was buttery and mild in flavor, and there was quite a bit of meat on each one.


Jamaican Bammies
Jamaican Bammies: Casava Cakes You soak them in milk or water then fry or steam them. Perfect to go with fish stew!

Now, did my dish turn out like a traditional Brown Stew? NO! (With a great chuckle.) It did not turn out looking like any brown stew I saw on the internet, BUT this post is not about how I executed a perfect dish. I share this experience because it was just that, an experience. A wonderful once-in-a-lifetime event that Nathan and I will surely not forget. Along with that, it cannot be denied that I learned new things. I tried new ingredients and new techniques. I used new equipment, (and lack-there-of,) and gathered some ideas for myself about what I should bring in my airbnb recipe kit for our next location!

In the end the meat was delicious and so were the vegetables. They were also great reheated, so that makes it all a win in my book!

Be sure to check-out the video at that bottom of the page for more about this experience!

Parrot Fish for Cooking

Parrot Fish and ‘Brown Stew’ Vegetables

SemiSerious Chefs
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Caribbean


  • 2 whole parrot fish; gutted and cleaned
  • 4 whole vine tomatoes; diced
  • 1 whole orange bell pepper; diced
  • 1 bunch green onions/scallions; chopped
  • fresh thyme; a decent sized bunch
  • 3-4 cloves garlic; crushed or diced
  • 1 t ground allspice; or more to taste
  • ½ cube chicken bullion
  • 1 whole scotch bonnet chilie (Do not pierce if no spice is desired.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges for plating
  • oil or butter for frying


  • In a large skillet add the tomatoes, bell pepper, onions, garlic, ginger, chili, allspice, thyme, salt, pepper, bullion, and about a half cup of water.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • As your stew is finishing, salt and pepper the inside and outside of each fish and fry in oil or butter, both sides, until just opaque.
  • Finish off the fish by simmering it with the juices of the stew for a few minutes, until easily flaked with a fork.
  • Plate each dish with some of the stewed vegetables and a fish. Generously squeeze lemon over the fish. Serve with Jamaican Bammies. (See note above.)


I highly suggest serving your dish with Jamaican Bammies! We soaked ours in milk and fried them  in butter and garlic!

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