Escabeche is a cold dish of cooked fish that is marinated in a vinaigrette for a period of time or overnight. Swordfish, tuna, bonito, and mackerel all are popular fish to use. The fish is flavored in the marinade. Persian in origin, escabeche is popular in Latin American and Mediterranean cuisines, and goes by different names: scapece in Italy, savoro in Greece, escoveitch in Jamaica.

It is similar to ceviche, also a marinated seafood dish, but that calls for raw seafood. Escabeche starts with cooked fish, poached or fried, that is then placed in a large non-reactive pan. A vinaigrette is added to the pan to warm it up, or it is prepared in a separate pan. It’s then poured over the fish and allowed to cool, then covered and refrigerated to marinate. The dish is served cold or at room temperature.

Vinegar is generally used for the acid in the marinade, but lime, lemon, or other citrus  juice is also used. The recipe below uses white wine vinegar and is flavored with Mexican oregano, peppercorns, onions, and garlic. Makes enough for 1 pound of fish, cut into 4 ounce pieces.

Escabeche Marinade Recipe
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  1. 1 lb. fish, cut into 4 ounce portions
  2. 1/2 cup olive oil
  3. 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  4. 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  5. 1 cup white wine vinegar
  6. 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  7. 1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
  8. 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  9. 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  10. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Reserve 1/4 cup of the olive oil for the marinade, and set aside.
  2. Using the rest of the oil, pan fry the fish fillets until done. Place in a non-reactive dish, such as glass.
  3. Wipe out the pan the fish was cooked in, and place back on the burner. Over medium heat, heat the olive oil and add in the onions. Cook until softened and light browned, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, and cook until fragrant, another minute.
  4. Stir in the white wine vinegar, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and add in the seasonings and dried herbs. Pour this over the cooked fish, and let it come to room temperature. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Serve the fish at room temperature or chilled.
Dana Point Fish Company
Renee Shelton enjoys writing about fish and testing recipes, and serves as webmaster for Dana Point Fish Company. When she’s not handling seafood or out fishing, she can be found in the bakeshop talking about pastry. Visit her at, or send her a message using the contact form above.