Escabeche (fish with pickled vegetables)

Fried whole fish served with pickled vegetables. That’s what escabeche is in a nutshell — a sweet and sour dish that is Spanish in origin, although the Spanish version is served cold while the Filipino version is served hot usually with rice.

The easiest way to prepare escabeche is to fry a fish then top it with store-bought achara, pouring whatever sauce there is along with the pickled vegetables. Easy but you don’t get a lot of sauce from bottled achara. The obvious solution is to make your own — not in bulk but just enough to serve with the fish. It’s easy. And the ingredients are very basic. Escabeche (fish with pickle sauce)

I used samaral (rabbitfish) for my escabeche but any fleshy fish will be good. I suggest lapu-lapu (grouper), maya-maya (snapper), talakitok (trevally) or labahita (surgeonfish).


  • a whole fish, about 800 grams in weight
    about 2 c. of vegetable cooking oil for frying

    For the pickled vegetables:

    1/2 c. of vinegar
    3/4 to 1 c. of sugar, depending on how sweet you like the sauce
    a generous pinch of salt
    cracked black pepper
    1/4 c. of grated green papaya
    1/8. c. of grated carrot
    2 shallots (or 1 onion), finely sliced
    2 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled
    a small piece of ginger, julienned
    1 finger chili, finely sliced
    two generous pinches of finely chopped cilantro, optional


  1. Score the fish and rub with salt.

    Make the pickled vegetables. In a small sauce pan, boil together the vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir to avoid crystallization. You can, however, swirl the pan. Add the salt, pepper, garlic and ginger. Boil for a few seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients. Boil for a minute. Turn off the heat. Leave to infuse.

    Heat the cooking oil. Fry the fish until crisp on the outside. Transfer the fish to a platter. Place the pickled vegetables on top of the fish. Pour the sauce over. Serve hot.

Cooking time (duration): 30 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 2 to 3

Meal type: lunch / supper


    • Connie says

      So easy if its going to be used immediately. What makes pickling labor intensive is when the pickled vegetables are meant to be preserved. Then, you go through the sterilizing process.

  1. Lee says

    Is samaral the same as danggit? An excellent meaty and flavorful fish except that cleaning it is hell! The fins are extremely razor-sharp and the guts stink like hell.

  2. says

    Hi Ms Connie,

    Am an avid follower of your site and have tried your dishes many times. This includes your sweet and sour fish.
    Just wondering what is the difference between escabeche and sweet and sour fish as they almost have the same procedure.

    Thanks so much

  3. d0d0ng says

    I had leftover fried fish for a week. So you know how desperate I was to have it recycled in some other form so it will be eaten for good.

    Thanks to your escabeche recipe. The best part is the ratio of sugar to the vinegar (at least 3/4 c to 1/2 c) plus it is brown not white with a generous pinch of salt. I had only red pepper and ginger but it turned out just perfect and the fish is gone. Thanks once again.