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.
- 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
- 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