Fish escabeche

Fish escabeche

Escabeche de peixe

By
From
Lisbon
Serves
4–6 as part of a spread of petiscos
Photographer
Steven Joyce

Cooking and keeping meat or fish in a vinegar-based sauce was a skill Portuguese and Spanish navigators and traders learned five centuries ago to help keep food edible over long voyages; the word escabeche has Persian roots and reached Europe via Arab and Moorish travellers. Today, escabeche dishes can be found all over the country, and are often used as a way to use up or keep leftover cooked fish. It is a distant relative of ceviche, a South American dish made with raw fish cured in acidic citrus juices, rather than vinegar.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
4 x 120-150g fillets of oily fish such as mackerel
or 4 tuna steaks either fresh or cooked leftovers
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
pinch salt, plus extra if needed
1 bay leaf, torn
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Method

  1. If using leftover fish, you can either use the oil the fish was cooked in, plus extra if necessary, or if the oil is dirty, start with fresh oil.
  2. To cook fresh fish, heat the oil in a frying pan set over a medium heat. Gently cook the fish fillets or steaks for a couple of minutes on each side, until cooked through. Remove and set aside.
  3. Pour the oil from cooking the fish into a small non-reactive pan, add the onion, salt and the bay leaf and sauté gently over a low–medium heat until the onion is translucent. After about 5 minutes, add the garlic and cook for a further 1–2 minutes. Next, add the vinegar and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer gently for a couple of minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little before adding the parsley. Stir, then pour over the cooked fish. Leave to cool before serving at room temperature; alternatively, the escabeche will keep in the fridge for several days. Taste before serving and add more salt if necessary.
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