There’s always some new exotic food try, isn’t there? One of the most recent exotic foods on everyone’s radar is Escabeche. It’s most known as a fried fish dish that’s marinated and served cold. The meat is soaked in vinegar or a citrus juice before its served. Obviously that doesn’t apply to vegetarian diets, so the old cooking method applies to veggies.
As if refers to veggies, it’s a way of pickling vegetables. Basically, you’re still applying an acidic substance to the vegetables for serving or using later. It’s a mainstay in Latin cooking, and is a great way to make spicy pickled vegetables.
The most common recipes you’ll find involve pickling jalapenos in an acidic mixture like apple cider vinegar, white vinegar or champagne vinegar. The vegetables you use can be up to you. The dish wouldn’t be itself if you didn’t have some kind of spicy pepper as the mainstay, like jalapenos or Serrano peppers, however. From there, onions, carrots, radishes and cauliflower are common options for this dish.
You start by cooking the vegetables by adding a couple splashes of olive oil to a large pan. You cook the vegetables on low heat with three tablespoons of sea salt until they are soft. Careful, as you don’t want to brown them.
Then you add enough vinegar to just about cover the veggies (you can cut the vinegar with water to taste if the vinegar is too strong). You’ll also add any spices to taste. Oregano, marjoram, peppercorn, thyme, bay leaves and garlic are all popular options. Also, add a tablespoon of sugar. Then bring to a boil.
Once at a boil, cover the pot, remove from heat and let cool. Then add the concoction to canning jars for storing. You may have to follow directions that come with the canning jars for proper sealing if you want to keep them in the pantry. The veggies should be kept in the jars for a few days before serving to let the flavors meld together. You can keep a closed jar refrigerated for a few months.
A different option is to not heat or boil the veggies. Just add your seasonings and veggies to the jar. You’ll just boil your vinegar, optional water, sugar and salt and simmer until dissolved, and then add to the jar. Let cool, then seal. This will create pickled, crunchy veggies that will keep for weeks.
You may be wondering how to use these spicy pickled veggies. The most common way, of course, is to simply serve them cold as a side dish. They come pre-prepared, seasoned and spicy, after all.
Another option is to mix up your veggies, especially the peppers and onions, in a salsa dish. Just add tomatoes and blend. The peppers also make an excellent addition to spicy guacamole, or even to a spicy hummus. You could even try adding the peppers to homemade bean tacos if you like a kick to your food.
The wonderful thing about Escabeche is that it is so versatile. It’s really only limited by your own creativity. And it’s a great way to store veggies when they’re in season. So maybe it’s time to whip up some Escabeche today.
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