Escabeche is a typical canned fish and meat preparation of the Mediterranean origin. It is normally prepared by marinating, poaching and frying the fish. The fish marinade is usually refrigerated before use. Escabeche is truly aspic. The dish is also known as “escoveech’ or “escovich” in Jamaica. And it is known as "savoro" in Greece, “scabetche" in North Africa and as "scapece" “escabecio", and "savoro" in Italy. The influences of Asia-Pacific food culture can be prominently observed in the the dish which is prepared in different areas. The improvisations have been brought to the basic escabeche recipe to incorporate the local food staples. It is mostly served after chilling it in refrigerator overnight or even longer. Normally the dish is treated with vinegar marinade, but at times lemon juice is also used in the preparation of the dish. It is considered to be one of the best ways of preserving fishes like tuna, sardines, etc. It is believed that the word escabeche is derived from the word al-sikbaj, a word of Persian origin, which refers to a kind of meat dish prepared using honey, soy sauce, vinegar, honey or date molasses. The fish and meat used in the preparation of dish imparts special flavor to the escabeche. Other than Spain, this dish is also prepared and served in countries like Panama, El Salvador, Peru, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Portugal, and Provence.
Escabeche is normally served, prepared and enjoyed during the summers, where the word translates to pickled fish in Spanish language.
Origin of Escabeche
The first mention of the dish can be traced back to 138 BC, when it was indicated that Scipio Aemilianus carried a type of fish marinade along with him when he traveled from cadiz to Rome. Around 1525, the dish was called escabetx in Catalan and its mention can be found in the book called “Book of Casseroles” authored by Ruperto de Nola. Some historians debate that the dish might have originated in Arabian countries and migrated to Spain and Portugal along with conquistadors. The interesting fact is that the parent dish al-sikabaj is no longer cooked in Arab world but its memory is kept alive by the Spanish dish escabeche. The name al-sikabaj underwent Anglicization in the later ages, but the recipe remained the same. Today the dish can be eaten hot or cold. Till this day the dish is prepared using the meat.
Popular Escabeche Recipes
- Al-Sikabj: This is one of the basic escabeche recipe variations where lamb, onions, raisins, nuts, egg plant, and spices like cinnamon, apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar, honey, figs, rose water and olive oil are used for preparing the dish. It is normally served cold.
- Filipino Fish Escabeche: This is also one of the basic recipes where ingredients like carp, salt, white vinegar, sugar, vegetable oil, bean curd, garlic, onion, ginger, water, mushroom, and herbs like bell peppers are used for preparing the dish. This dish is normally enjoyed hot.
- Pickled Jalapenos Escabeche: This is a delectable escabeche recipe which combines ingredients like jalapeno, olive oil, white or yellow skinned onions, cauliflower, apple cider vinegar, kosher salt, bay leaves, marjoram and sugar. This varition of the dish can remain fresh for many days if properly served in the refrigerator.
- Spanish Escabeche: This is also a basic recipe which combines ingredients like lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, jalapeno pepper, water, green cabbage, jicama, and herbs.
- Chicken Escabeche: This is one of the delectable recipes which combines ingredients like chicken breasts, garlic, peppercorn, thyme, cayenne pepper, Spanish onion, salt, sugar, wine, sheri vinegar, orange and lemon. This dish is mostly served with orange and green salad accompaniments.
- Shrimp Escabeche: This dish combines shrimp, olive oil, kosher salt, red onion, garlic, Serrano chillies, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, white wine vinegar and herbs like cilantro. Mostly the dish is served with an accompaniment of sliced vegetables like radishes and cilantro.