I don’t fish myself, but luckily I do have a source of locally caught walleye or pickerel. As I have been craving an escabeche for some time, my most recent ‘catch’ was used to make this dish of Spanish origin but also very popular in Latin America since the days of the ‘conquista’.
Originally escabeche was a way to preserve fish. Marinated in a mixture of wine and vinegar along with vegetables and spices which were removed after cooking, the fish could be kept for several weeks. Nowadays the ingredients are much the same, but it is not used so much as a method of preserving. However, the wine and vinegar keep working their magic and the dish improves after resting a couple of days. It can be served hot or cold, so is an ideal dish for the hot summer months.
Some recipes call for frying the fish first. I broiled it after coating with a fine spray of oil. This was not so much to save on calories as it was to avoid the hassle of frying and the fish losing its integrity.
Many vegetables would go well with this dish, but I limited it to carrots and red onions for their colour. I used one habanero, although when I took the photo I intended to use two. One was nicely spicy but if you like it hot …
This dish has an acidic flavour from the vinegar, and is also spicy, although feel free to up or down the heat according to your preference. I added mustard, cumin and sumac which are not traditionally used but worked very well with the fish.
olive oil for frying
1 kg walleye fillet or other white fish
2 red onions, sliced
4 carrots, cut in thick strips
1 or 2 hot peppers, seeded and chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp sumac (optional)
1 tsp chili pepper
1 Tbsp Dijon style mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
hard boiled eggs and black olives to garnish
Place the fillets on a broiling tray, spray lightly with oil and broil about 8 inches from the broiler until cooked through. Set aside.
Fry the onions in oil until soft. Add the garlic and chopped chilis and fry another two minutes. Add the dry spices and fry another minute. Add the mustard, vinegar and wine and blend completely. Add the salt, pepper and olives, cover, turn the heat to low and continue to cook until the carrots are tender.
Pour the vegetables over the fish in a casserole. You may put it in the oven and reheat for about twenty minutes if serving hot, or let it cool and serve at room temperature. Place a few halves of boiled eggs on top.
Leftovers can be refrigerated and served cold the next day or three.