Escabeche series: 1 - Pantry escabeche

Nov. 28, 2009, 10:23 p.m. | by Adriano Petrich | Categories: easy fish sidedish

Escabeche series: 1 - Pantry escabeche


Canned Sardines, 2 cans

Onion, 2 one red, one white, sliced in rings

Bay Leaves, 1 if they are dried up to 6 if they are fresh

Black pepper, 2 pinches

Wine, 1/2 Cup dry and white

Vinegar, 1/2 Cup also white

Materials and Methods

The Escabeche Series

Escabeche is my new object of obsession, and it is a great one.

It is an acid marinate that can be served hot, warm or even cold (don’t finch, it is the most common way to eat it).

Instead of Ceviche which the food is chemically cooked by the action of the acid, in Escabeche the food is first cooked and then marinated in acid.

I normally use fish but most things can be escabeched. Chicken and pork are good candidates.

This one is a cheap ass pantry friendly one, made with canned sardines.

Sautéing or Sweating?

The base theory is as follows in a single line without commas:

cook the protein then reserve add olive oil to the pan and add onions and spices then sweat them and add acid to the pan and on the side layer protein in the serving plate then cover with the onions and the marinade and BAM!

I am using canned sardines so I don’t have to cook the protein.

So, in a large saucepan on low heat, I add the olive oil and the oil from the sardines (those are canned in olive oil)

I am sweating the onions not sauteing, so the onions can be added while the oil is still cold.\\

Sauteing is pan frying in high heat with the objective of caramelizing. Very useful when you need to extract flavors to create a base for the dish.

Vegetables cubed very small and sauteed happens in varios cultures, the Spanish/Italian sofrito/soffrito, the French mirapoix and the Brazilian refogadinho.

This is not what I want here.

I want the sweet of the onions to counterpoint the acid in the sauce.

Low heat and a pinch of salt is how you sweat food.

With the onions add: a pinch of salt (it theorically helps with sweating, although I’ve never tried an experiment), the bay leaves, the black pepper kernels(they are not kernels, but lets pretend)

Prepare for the sauce

While the onions are sweating on the low heat you have time to prepare the serving plate.

The sardines are already cooked so I just divide each one in the two fillets, remove the backbone and any other not so nice bits it might have and lay them in a single layer in the serving bowl.

When the onions are fully transparent add a half glass of white wine and a half glass of vinegar to the pan. I’m using a organic apple cider vinegar.

Turn up the heat to medium heat and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.

Kill the heat.

The bay leaves

If I have dried bay leaves I just add two to the escabeche.

The flavor that they add to the dish is very important.

But.. in the other hand if I have fresh bay leaves then I add one per each fillet.


Just cover the fish fillets with the onions and the sauce.

What is great about this dish is that it can be served either warm or cold.

I just love it on toast, as a starter or as a main dish.

Is something fishy here?

No there is not. The acid with the sweet of the onions remove the strong flavor of those extra fishy tasting fishes.

One of the reasons that sardines are so famous in escabeche.

This dish is great and sure enough it is dead easy to make it, but if you are wondering “what’s up with a dozen bay leaves?”

When the dish is ready, pick up one bay leaf put in your mouth still holding the stem of the leaf. Suck it and pull the leaf out at the same time.

If you have fresh leaves the whole dish is an excuse to suck bay leaves done in escabeche.

Try it.


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