Sunday, April 8, 2012

Seared Fish Fillets in Escabeche

"Es-cah-BAY-Chay".  A marinade-type preparation that is brothy and much like a vinaigrette that proved to be an incredibly fresh dish for a spring evening.  Adapted from Rick Bayless' recipe in his book Mexico - One Plate at a Time this is my selection for this week's "Bienvenido Rick!" at I Heart Cooking Clubs

Rick's book this recipe is taken from is the companion book to the PBS Series with the same name.  That series was how I was introduced to Rick Bayless.  I'm looking forward to exploring his cookbooks over the next 6 months.

Ingredients for the escabeche


Rick prefers a snapper or halibut for this recipe but I had cod in my refrigerator that I needed to use and it worked just great.  The fish is simply seared in hot olive oil until browned on both sides.

The primary prep work is cutting up your vegetables and getting everything at hand, ready to add to the skillet to create the marinade that is going to give your fish fabulous flavor.

 If you slice your onions from pole to pole you'll find they don't end up in a big wad once they are caramelized.

Here we are all lined up to go!  We have our veggies diced up in the bowl, the vinegar, broth (I used fish broth) and the herbs and spices.  The ingredient I omitted (which is probably what makes this recipe what it is) are the pickled jalapeños.  Lovey just can't handle the heat.

After the fish has been browned and set aside, saute the onions, carrots and garlic over a reduced heat.  Once they are soft, the rest of the ingredients are added and simmered so the all the flavors come together.

When I plated the dish up, I placed a little bit of the escabeche on the plate, topped with the fish and spooned a little juice then topped with more of the vegetables.

The flavors in this dish that made my mouth sing were what the vinegar added and that little hint of the cinnamon.  I would love to try this again and add those jalapeños!

Filetes de Pescado en Escabeche - Seared Fish Fillets in Escabeche
Adapted from Mexico One Plate at a Time - by Rick Bayless
Serves 6

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
six 5 to 6 ounce boneless, skinless fish fillets, about 1/4 inch thick
2 medium white onions
3 medium carrots
6 garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
leaves from 6 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
leaves from 6 springs of fresh marjoram (or 1/2 tsp dried)
3 whole cloves
1/4 tsp black pepper, preferable freshly ground
a 2-inch piece of cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican canela
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water or light fish or chicken broth
3-4 large fresh or pickled jalapeño chiles

Mise en place:
  • peel onion and slice 1/4" thick
  • peel carrots and cut into 1/4" dice
  • peel garlic cloves and quarter
  • if using fresh herbs, strip leaves from stems of thyme and marjoram and lightly chop
  • if using fresh jalapeños, stem, seed and cut lengthwise into thin strips
  • set aside bay leaves, cloves, and black pepper in small ingredient dish
  • measure out vinegar and broth
  • measure out olive oil into skillet
In a large (12 inch) heavy skillet) preferable well-seasoned cast iron or nonstick), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels, then lay them in a single uncrowded layer in the hot oil (you may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your pan and the fillets).  Brown richly on one side, 3 to 4 minutes, then flip the fillets over and brown the other side, letting the fish cook until it flakes under firm pressure, 2 to 3 minutes more.  Remove the fillets to a plate and set aside.

Reduce the heat under the pan to medium and add the onions, carrots and garlic.  Stir regularly until the onions are translucent and the carrots almost soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the bay leaves, thyme, marjoram, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, vinegar and water or broth.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes to bring the flavors together.  Taste and season with salt, usually about 3/4 teaspoon, then stir in the jalapeno strips.

If you want to serve the dish warm, simply lay the fillets over the simmering escabeche, cover and gently heat for 4 to 5 minutes.  It's easiest to serve the warm dish by placing a piece of fish on each of six dinner plates, then spooning a portion of the brothy escabeche over each one, arranging sprigs of herbs decoratively on top.  To serve the dish cool, simply arrange the fish on a deep serving platter and spoon the escabeche over it all.  As it cools, the fish and vegetables will absorb much of the liquid, making this an ideal warm-weather main dish.

I am sharing this recipe at IHCC


  1. I really have to go eat more fish, this sounds so yummy!

  2. Wow - this looks wonderful! I really need to cook with fish more often. The flavours here look so fresh. And thanks for the tip re the onion!

  3. All these flavors sound great! And I do love cooking with bay leaves.

  4. I love pretty much anything "en escabeche"! We do jalapeños and chicken escabeche most often here, but I think I'll be trying this fish soon - it looks fantastic.

  5. What a delicious dish! We love cod, but cod is very expensive over here, as they are imported! A great dish to start!

  6. The fish looks so succulent and delicious and I love the combination of spices and ingredients. A great recipe to kick off the next six months with! ;-)

  7. I'm really curious about escabeche and I'd really like to make a recipe like this so I can try it out. It seems like a really flavorful way to enjoy fish and also appropriate for all our upcoming hot weather. Great dish to welcome Rick!