A Classic Escabeche Recipe

Seared Fish with Marinade
Lew Robertson/Stockbyte/Getty Images
    25 hrs 10 mins
Ratings (16)

It sounds yummy, but you might be saying to yourself, "What is escabeche?" Escabeche (es-kah-BECH-ay) is a classic Spanish recipe in which you sear meat or fish, then marinate it in a vinegary sauce loaded with herbs and spices and serve it cold or at room temperature on a hot day. It works perfectly with fish, especially oily fish such as mackerel, jacksmelt, herring or bonito. But you could use any thinly sliced fish; I like porgies, walleye, trout, Pacific rockfish or snapper.

What You'll Need

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 mashed garlic cloves
  • 1 hot chili, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced into half-moons
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 cup fish or chicken broth
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 more bay leaves
  • 1 pound fish fillets, cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces

How to Make It

Combine the cup salt with 4 cups of water and stir to combine. Brine the fish in this mixture for 30 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the mashed garlic cloves, chili and 2 bay leaves. Cook these aromatics in the oil over medium heat until the garlic browns, about 4 to 6 minutes. Do not let the garlic burn. Remove the aromatics and discard.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook the fish.

You want a good sear, so if the fish is not cooking hot enough, turn the heat all the way up to high. Sear each side of the fish for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness. You don't need to cook the fish all the way through.

Remove the fish to cool. Add the slivered onion, lower the heat to medium and cook until translucent. Remove to cool.

Now add all the remaining ingredients to the pan, turn the heat up to high and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce by half, turn off the heat and let cool.

When everything is at room temperature, pour the sauce into a container and add the fish and onions. Store in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavors marry.

This fish will stay in good shape for a week or more so long as it is covered by the vinegar sauce. Serve cool or at room temperature.