The perfect combination of sweet and sour, fish escabeche is a popular dish among big groups and families gathering together. For one, its warm and summery appearance makes your eyes immediately zero in on it on the dining table. Its tangy and bright flavor is brought out even further by the distinct tastes of vinegar and bell pepper. Escabeche is a wonderful dish, and one that’s so easy to prepare too!
What is Escabeche?
Being a sweet and sour dish, you might think escabeche found a home in Chinese restaurants, alongside meals like sweet and sour pork or orange chicken. However, that isn’t the case at all! Escabeche actually has traces to Spain and Latin America. This makes sense – especially considering how the former’s culture has been ingrained in us for centuries.
You can choose to use either meat or fish for this recipe, but many, if not most opt for the latter. Filipinos have no problem with this, of course – living on an archipelago comes with its perks, one of them being easy access to seafood! Fresh fish line the aisles of our markets, both wet and dry. The important thing is to choose what kind of fish to use. In my case, I enjoy using tilapia for my fish escabeche. However, other variants that also work include, but are not limited to:
- Red snapper (Maya-maya)
These fishes have firm flesh – one of the only few requirements for this dish. Be sure, too, to salt the fish prior to cooking in order to get rid of some of its lansa.
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What kind of fish do you use for your escabeche?
How to Cook Fish Escabeche
Let’s make some fish escabeche! While cooking with seafood may feel like a daunting task to some, making fish escabeche is actually quite easy! It only takes about 35 minutes to cook, so there’s no need to feel pressured or overly stressed.
Begin by preparing all of your ingredients. After cleaning and salting your large fish, slice 1 medium red bell pepper into strips. Red bell peppers are the ripest of all bell peppers, and the perfect combination of sweet and spicy. These refreshing vegetables not only make your dish taste better, but they look great!
After slicing a red onion and crushing 5 cloves of garlic, you’re ready to start cooking. We begin making your fish escabeche by heating half a cup of cooking oil in a frying pan. Take the fish you cleaned and salted then fry both sides, until they’re both slightly crispy. When you’re satisfied with its doneness, set your tilapia aside for now.
Now let’s start making the “sauce” for your fish escabeche. In another clean pan, pour in a cup of white vinegar over the stovetop. Bring it to a boil, then add sugar, whole peppercorn, and garlic. Let these ingredients cook for about a minute. Toss in your red onion and bell pepper, both sliced, then cook until they begin to tenderize. Sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt (or more, according to your taste), then stir.
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Take the tilapia you’d fried earlier and put it in the pan. Cook your escabeche for about 2 to 3 minutes; you don’t want your fish, nor vegetables, to overcook. Once that time is up, turn off the heat and transfer your escabeche to a serving plate.
Just like that, you’re done cooking! Prepare a large serving bowl of heaping white rice (maybe even some homemade atchara!) and enjoy your fish escabeche with your family. Let us know what you think of this delightfully tasty dish!
Other Fun Fish Recipes
Looking for more ways to enjoy fish at home apart from fish escabeche? Here are two of mine!
Another flavor FIlipinos enjoy apart from sweet and sour is anything we cook in coconut milk or gata. When warm, meaty fish meets the nutty and rich flavors of gata, the intermingling makes for a killer combination. Ginataang Tilapia (or literally, tilapia in coconut milk) is a scrumptious and ultra satisfying meal. The addition of spinach and green and chili peppers gives the dish an extra kick of spice, too! It’s so good, you’ll be having more and more (and more rice, too) before you know it.
Crispy Tilapia Sticks
If you have kids at home who may be picky eaters, one way to convince them to eat fish is, of course, to fry them! Crispy fish fillets are one of the most popular meals among children and adults alike. And these tilapia sticks are generously crunchy and oh so delicious. Whether or not you enjoy them with a dipping sauce, these are wonderful as an appetizer or main course. They’re also a great way to enjoy cooking with your family – just the sight of them can bring back warm and nostalgic memories with the people you love.
Watch the cooking video: