How to Cook Jamaican-Style Steamed Red Snapper

by Natalie Smith, Ph.D.

Red snapper has a characteristic iridescent red hue.

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Jamaica is famous for its seafood. Among Jamaica's many well-known seafood dishes is steamed red snapper with tomatoes, onions and peppers. Red snapper is a meaty fish with a hearty, savory flavor that is mellowed by steaming. Adding the onions and peppers lends a zesty finish to the snapper, while the tomatoes keep it moist. You can use an electric steamer or place the snapper in a flat bamboo steaming basket to ensure that all the ingredients cook evenly.

Place the red snapper fillets in a bowl and pour the white wine over the them. Turn the fillets to make sure they are evenly coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight.

Plug in your electric steamer and fill the water reservoir according to the manufacturer's instructions. Heat the steamer on high, if your steamer has settings. If you are using a bamboo steamer, fill a stockpot 3/4 of the way full with water and heat the water on high heat until it boils.

Place the tomatoes, Scotch bonnet peppers and onions on the tray for the electric steamer or in the bamboo basket. Place the red snapper fillets over the vegetables. Insert the tray into the electric steamer, if you are using one. If you are using a bamboo steamer basket, place the basket, with its cover securely fastened, over the stockpot.

Steam the red snapper for 10 to 15 minutes. The snapper is finished when it is opaque all the way through.

Remove the steamer tray or bamboo basket and transfer the red snapper and vegetables to a serving platter with a spatula. Discard the Scotch bonnet peppers if you do not wish to eat them. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.


  • "Frommer's Jamaica"; Darwin Porter, et al.; 2010
  • "Cook Right 4 Your Type"; Peter J. D'Adamo, et al.; 2005
  • "How to Cook Fish"; Olive Green; 1908

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About the Author

Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.