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Recipe for Jamaican run down (fish stew with tomato, peppers and coconut milk) {gluten-free}

Jamaican run down, a robust fish stew. #glutenfree

Jamaican cooks make magic with fish. Dishes like run down aren't complicated, but they are definitely more than the sum of their parts. (The name originates from the way the fish is cooked until it falls apart, or "runs down.") When big chunks of fresh-caught fish, tomato, peppers, onion, lime juice, and a bit of hot chile pepper, distinctively Caribbean ingredients that you probably have in your pantry, come together in a coconut milk base, you end up with a fish stew that's hearty but not heavy. Here in New England the fishmongers sell cod loin, a thick cut of white fish; if you don't like cod, or can't find the loin cut, use salmon, halibut, red snapper or mackerel, whichever looks best at the market. Serve run down as a main course, with rice (for a gluten-free dish) or some crusty bread to mop the bottom of the bowl. Remember: food that comes from hot climates really does cool you down in the summer.

Jamaican run down (fish stew), on The Perfect Pantry.

Jamaican run down (fish stew with tomato, peppers and coconut milk)

From the pantry, you'll need: lime, coconut milk, onion, garlic, canned chopped tomato, dried thyme, vinegar, red pepper flakes.

Adapted from Caribbean Cooking, this recipe accommodates any fish that looks best at the fish market. The original recipe calls for mackerel fillets. I often make this with salmon; when I made the recipe for these photos, I used beautiful cod loin from my local fishmonger. Serves 6 as a main dish.


Juice of 2 limes
2 lbs cod loin, salmon (skin removed) or mackerel, cut into large pieces
1 13.5-oz can coconut milk
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 Scotch Bonnet or jalapeño chile pepper, minced (I use red jalapeños, seeds and all)
1/4 tsp mild red pepper flakes (optional)
16 oz canned chopped tomatoes
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme leaf
1 Tbsp white vinegar


Squeeze the lime juice into a shallow bowl, and add the fish. Turn the fish pieces over a couple of times to make sure they are covered in lime juice. Set aside.

In a heavy, wide, high-sided skillet (you could use a nonstick wok), heat the coconut milk over medium heat until you can see some oil pooling on the top (2-3 minutes). Add the onion, garlic, pepper, pepper flakes, tomatoes, salt, pepper, thyme and vinegar. Cook, stirring once or twice to incorporate the ingredients, for 2 minutes, or until the liquid comes to a low boil. Reduce heat to low, and add the fish along with any lime juice in the bowl.

Cover, and cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper or additional lime juice, if needed.

Serve hot.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More fish stews:
Moqueca (Brazilian fish stew), from The Perfect Pantry
Cioppino, from The Perfect Pantry
Italian fish and potato stew, from Aggie's Kitchen
Spicy red fish stew, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Sudado de pescado al coco, from My Colombian Recipes
Bouillabaisse, from Just One Cookbook
Caribbean fish stew, from Seduction Meals

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This looks wonderful. I love the tomato, pepper and coconut milk combination--sounds delicious.

Kirsten, I love fish stews like this one. Not too heavy, a little bit spicy. Feels almost like a mini-vacation every time I make it.

Hi Lydia,

in this you use only the 13.5-oz can coconut milk and 16 oz canned chopped tomatoes to create the majority of the soup base? No water or other liquid?

Also I'm guessing . . .this makes 4 servings?


Dave, correct, no additional liquid. This is a stew, not a soup. And the recipe indicates 6 servings.

What a great Jamaican stew! I love that it's so hearty but full of light flavor... and lotsa spice with that Scotch bonnet! Great recipe, Lydia.

I made this for dinner last night, Lydia. Hubby and Son LOVED it. It was so easy to make. This is a keeper recipe. Thanks.

OMG, was this ever delicious! We're passing it around in our FB nutrition group.

Great recipe! Did everything as instructed, but used apple vinegar. Watch the price of fish though, it could quickly make this expensive. I like how it's basically finished once everything is in the pot.

Made the dish today, very delicious. Thank you for sharing

this is not rundown. rundown is never that color or that liquid. what you made might have been delicious but not traditional rundown and it's deceiving to folks.

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