Peruvian Fish Escabeche

Savor the vibrant, tangy flavors of this Peruvian Fish Escabeche – Escabeche de Pescado Peruano. Firm, white fish is marinated in vinegar, aromatics and spices, and Peruvian ají peppers. Served with fresh garnishes, it’s a tasty new way to enjoy healthy fish, and only about 30 minutes of active time!

An oval baking dish with Peruvian fish escabeche, hard-cooked eggs, black olives, sweet potatoes, and rocoto salsa.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – What is Escabeche?

“Escabeche” is the Spanish and Latin American dish that typically features marinated and/or fried fish, poultry, or meat pickled in a tangy mixture of vinegar, oil, onions, peppers, and spices. The marinade typically includes garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns, which infuses the dish with aromatic flavor.

Escabeche can be served hot, room temperature, or cold, and may be served with rice or bread. It is ubiquitous in many culinary traditions including (but not limited to) Peru, Mexico, and the Philippines. Additionally, some countries have adapted the dish to include vegetables like carrots and cauliflower alongside the fish or meat. Overall, escabeche offers a tangy, savory, and slightly acidic flavor profile.

  1. Peru In Peru, escabeche is often made with fish or seafood, marinated in vinegar and spices, and served cold as an appetizer or light meal.
  2. Mexico – Escabeche is a staple dish in Mexican cuisine, where it often features pickled vegetables along with achiote paste, mild vinegar, red onion, and cilantro.
  3. Philippines – Escabeche is a popular Filipino dish typically made with fried fish or meat, and served with a sweet and sour sauce made from vinegar, sugar, ketchup, and soy sauce.
  4. Spain – Escabeche is a traditional Spanish dish, particularly popular in regions like Andalusia and Catalonia. It is likely to include piquillo peppers, tomatoes, Spanish paprika, and sherry vinegar.
  5. Puerto Rico – In Puerto Rico, escabeche is a common dish made with fish, chicken, or pork, marinated in a mixture of vinegar, onions, garlic, and spices. You may also find bell peppers, carrots, olives, capers, and achiote (annatto) for color and flavor. Green bananas or yuca are very popular vegetarian options. I was intrigued by one recipe for chicken gizzards and green bananas.
  6. Cuba – Escabeche is also enjoyed in Cuba, where it’s typically made with fish or meat, and simply seasoned with garlic, sliced yellow onion, bell pepper, and bay leaves.

These are just a few examples, and variations of escabeche can be found in other countries and regions as well, each with its own unique twists and flavors.

What makes this escabeche “Peruvian?”

Peruvian escabeche often incorporates local ingredients commonly found in Peruvian cuisine. This may include a variety of seafood such as fish, shrimp, or mixed seafood, as Peru is known for its abundant coastal resources. It may also feature trucha (trout) from fresh water streams and rivers.

Ají peppers, most typically ají amarillo, are a quintessential addition whether in the form of paste or sliced. You may find ají panca and/or mirasol as well. For more on Peruvian peppers, see All About Peruvian Ají Peppers. We also must include red onion. Red onion and Peruvian cooking are married!😁

Speaking from my own personal observations, Peruvians tend to use red wine vinegar as their vinegar of choice. I guess some may challenge my assertion, but a quick google search of Peruvian recipes, and all of my Peruvian cookbooks confirm it.😉 I do recommend choosing a good quality vinegar, whether you use red wine vinegar or another kind.

Lastly, we’re finishing this escabeche with some cumin and oregano – both quintessential herbs/spices in Peruvian cooking. And (if you’ve followed me for a little while), you know I love fresh garnishes. We’re finishing our fish escabeche with black olives, hard-boiled eggs, and mashed sweet potatoes.

📋 Ingredients Notes

Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.

A silver tray with ingredients for the fish escabeche including fish, onion, ají amarillo pepper and paste, vinegar, and oil.
Ingredients for Escabeche de Pescado Peruano (clockwise from top): Red onion, ají amarillo peppers,
ají amarillo paste, ground cumin, ají panca paste, red wine vinegar, fish stock, camote flour, oregano, Atlantic cod, garlic cloves.
  • fish – On photo day, I used some very fresh Atlantic cod. Any firm white fish will work – barramundi, halibut, sea bass, snapper, etc.
  • red onion – Yes, you can use other onions, but you’ll miss the gorgeous color, and Peruvians love red onions!
  • ají amarillo peppers – On photo day, I used ají amarillo peppers packed in water. In all honesty, I prefer the frozen peppers. My peppers were really soft. I cannot get fresh peppers (I don’t know that they’re available outside of Peru). You can substitute other fresh peppers if you prefer, or even a mix of peppers to achieve your desired heat level.
  • ají amarillo paste – Find ají amarillo paste at Latino markets or online.
  • ground cumin
  • red wine vinegar – Peruvians use a lot of red wine vinegar. I’m always more likely to use sherry vinegar because I like its smooth, mellow flavor. That is totally fine in this escabeche recipe. However, I did decide to invest in a high quality Italian red wine vinegar to compare alongside. I would stick with sherry, red wine, white wine, or white balsamic vinegar for this dish given their balance and acidity level compared to something like apple cider vinegar. You may enjoy 15 Different Types Of Vinegar Explained from Tasting Table.
  • fish stock – If I don’t have fish stock on hand, I substitute chicken broth. Either is fine.
  • flour – I keep harina de camote (sweet potato flour) in my pantry, and it is my flour of choice for escabeche. I use it in my Peruvian beans recipe, and I figured it was a good choice here as well. You can use your preferred flour. It provides a little body to the marinade/sauce.
  • oregano – I have fresh oregano in my garden, so that is my preference. Dried oregano leaves are just fine! Use 1/3 the quantity of fresh.
  • garlic
  • not shown – Olive oil, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper along with the garnishes and sides are not shown. Botija olives are great, but kalamatas are a great substitution.

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🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1 - Coat the fish with seasoned flour.
  • Step 1 – In a shallow bowl, thoroughly combine flour, ground cumin, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. Pat fish portions dry, then press them into the seasoned flour on all sides.
Step 2 - The seasoned fish fries in a non-stick pan.
  • Step 2 – Add oil to a skillet that will hold (but not crowd) fish portions. Bring to medium-high heat. It should be hot but not smoking! Add the fish to the hot oil. NOTE: Try to keep the oil between 350-375º for best results. When the fish begins to flake and is golden brown, turn gently and repeat on the other side. My medium-thick portions required about 3-4 minutes on each side.
Step 3 - The fried cod is placed in an appropriately sized ovenproof baking dish.
  • Step 3 – Place the fried fish portions in a dish suitable for covering the fish with the marinade/sauce. NOTE: It should not be a lot bigger than the fish you’re serving. Reference my completed photos.
Step 4 - Onions, ají peppers, ají pastes, garlic, and spices to the skillet.
  • Step 4 – You should be able to use the same oil used for the fish. If you had more than a tablespoon or so, you may wish to remove some. Add the red onions, and sauté until they begin to soften. Add the peppers, garlic, ají amarillo and ají panca pastes, and ground cumin. Stir to combine, and sauté until fragrant. The vegetables should be tender, but not soft.
Step 5 - The stock, vinegar, and camote flour are whisked together, and added to the skillet.
  • Step 5 – Whisk together the red wine vinegar, broth/stock, and flour. Add to the onion mixture. Stir until the mixture is slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 6 - Pour the marinade/sauce over the fried fish into a deep-sided dish.
  • Step 6 – Pour the marinade over the fish, lifting the fish to allow the marinade to flow under it. Marinate 2 to 4 hours in the refrigerator. NOTE: Serve cold, or bring to room temperature. If you wish to serve the fish escabeche hot, cover with foil, and gently reheat in a 300º oven.
  • Serve – Fresh garnishes make this dish IMHO! Hard-cooked eggs are very traditional, as are Peruvian black olives (kalamatas are fine). A lime wedge or two, some fresh oregano, cilantro, or parsley are lovely. On photo day, I had some fresh manzano/rocoto peppers, and I made a Peruvian salsa. I also made a really nice sweet potato mash that will be on the blog very soon. Delicioso!
A white ceramic shallow bowl with Peruvian fish escabeche, hard-cooked egg, olives, and lime wedges.

❓FAQ

Are ají amarillo peppers hot?

The Scoville Scale rates them at 30,000 to 50,000 (medium). This range includes serrano peppers. I don’t consider them to be that hot. If you’re unfamiliar with them, reduce the quantity to half and add yellow or orange bell pepper, or replace with yellow or orange bell pepper.

Is fish escabeche good left over?

My hubby Mark says (very enthusiastically) YES! Escabeche can be served at any temperature. He brings it to room temperature, but cold or hot works too. It’s really a matter of preference.

💭 Tips

Fish escabeche does benefit from soaking in the marinade/sauce. However, you will need to plan ahead. The active time is about 30 minutes. Marinate the fish for 1-12 hours. I highly recommend at least 2 hours!

Peruvian escabeche can be served warm, at room temperature, or chilled, depending on personal preference. It’s often garnished with fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley, hard-cooked eggs, black olives, lime wedges, etc. Complete the meal with sweet potatoes, sweet potato mash (my preference!), rice, or potatoes to soak up the flavorful sauce.

I fry my fish in extra virgin olive oil. Fish needs to be fried at 350-375º, and extra virgin olive oil is fine at that temperature. Of course you can use your preferred oil.

2 white shallow bowls with Peruvian escabeche, grey napkin, copper flatware, and rocoto sauce.

My love of all things Peruvian – especially food – is readily apparent on the pages of my blog. As a resident of the US, I can’t get most of the unique fresh produces available in Peru, but it is my aim to bring Peruvian flavors to non-native home cooks. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.

A white oval baker with Peruvian fish escabeche with garnishes.

Peruvian Fish Escabeche

Firm, white fish is pan-fried, then covered with a tangy Peruvian-style marinade with red onion, ají pepper and pepper pastes, red wine vinegar, and spices… Delicioso!
5 from 1 vote

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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Marinate Fish 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Peruvian
Servings 2 servings
Calories 544 kcal

Ingredients
  

Fried Fish

  • 12 ounces firm white fish - cod, dorado, halibut, barrumundi
  • ½ cup flour - see Ingredients Notes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil - plus or minus

Marinade/Sauce

  • 1 medium red onion - thick sliced (see photos)
  • ½ cup sliced fresh, frozen, jarred peppers, ají amarillo - see Ingredients Notes in post
  • 3 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 tablespoon ají amarillo paste
  • 1 tablespoon ají panca paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup fish or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons flour - sweet potato, potato, wheat
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano chopped - or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Garnishes

  • hard-cooked eggs
  • black olives - botija or kalamata
  • lime wedges
  • fresh cilantro or oregano

Instructions

  • Thoroughly combine flour, ground cumin, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. Pat fish portions dry, then press them into the seasoned flour on all sides.
  • Add oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry fish on both sides until golden brown.
  • Place the fried fish portions in a dish suitable for covering the fish with the marinade/sauce.
  • Return the pan to medium-high heat with about 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the red onions, and sauté until they begin to soften. Add the peppers, garlic ají amarillo and ají panca pastes, and ground cumin. Stir to combine, and sauté until fragrant. The vegetables should be tender, but not soft.
  • Whisk together the red wine vinegar, broth/stock, and flour. Add to the onion mixture, and stir until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the marinade over the fish, gently lifting so it flows under the fish as well. Marinate 2-12 hours in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature or cold. If you prefer to serve it hot, see NOTES below.
  • Garnish as desired and serve. Enjoy!

Notes

NOTE: This escabeche can be served cold, or room temperature. If you’re intent on having it hot, re-heat gently in the oven covered with foil at 300 degrees.
Macronutrients are very difficult to quantify. The fish doesn’t include all of the flour or the oil in the recipe. I use MyFitnessPal.com to calculate the macros, and they do not include garnishes.

Nutrition

Calories: 544kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 30g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

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