In many ways Aunt Ilana and I are very much alike. We both love food and words, the perfect combination for a couple of food bloggers.
One way in which we could not be more different is on our opinion of fish as a food. While Aunt Ilana detests fish, I could have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and have had it, in fact, to my husband’s horror). Gollum would have a hard time catching up with me.
I grew up eating fish. I come from a coastal town, after all.
This is my mother’s favorite fish dish. Imagine my surprise when reading this article, a comparison between Jamaican cuisine and Dominican cuisine, that Jamaicans prepare a dish that is very similar to this. Most importantly, I learned a new word: escovitch, which sounds suspiciously close to “escabeche”, a traditional Dominican sauce.
A quick trip to my big fat dictionary revealed that… the word wasn’t in it. Curioser and curioser.
Digging a bit deeper I discovered that escovitch wasn’t only a sauce, it’s a cooking method, one that involves frying fish or meat, then dousing it “liberally with a pickling sauce made from vinegar, pimento, onions, pepper, (and sometimes carrots).”. Where have I seen this before?
My mom’s kitchen, that’s where. Sweet synchronicity, Batman!
And speaking of my mother’s recipe, the only change I have made to the escovitched fish is adding basil, cause I love basil, and basil belongs in tomato sauce. If you don’t like, or don’t have basil feel free to omit it. Pescado guisado / en escabeche (escovitched fish) is easy to prepare and has a nice combination of flavors and textures. Go ahead and add an authentic Dominican touch to your meal.
- 6 sea bass or red snapper fillets
- 1 cup of cornstarch
- 1 cup of oil for frying
- 2 bell peppers cut into strips
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 4 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 cup of tomato sauce
- A bunch of basil, chopped (optional)
- 3 limes cut into wedges
- Mix the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of pepper and 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Coat the fish with cornstarch and shake off the excess.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a non-stick pan.
- Fry the fish fillets one by one until they are golden brown.
- Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil over low heat.
- Add the onions and cook and stir until the onions become transparent.
- Add the tomatoes and pepper and cook and stir for a minute.
- Add the tomato sauce and 1 cup of water.
- Cover and simmer until the tomatoes and pepper are cooked through.
- Season with salt to taste.
- Add the basil and mix.
- Add the fish and turn until it is coated with the sauce on all sides.
- Remove from the heat and serve immediately.
- Accompany with white rice or tostones. Garnish with the lime.
For a healthier version (non-fried), skip steps 1 to 5 and add the fish raw to the sauce. Simmer a little longer until the fish is cooked through. Each method produces a different dish, but both are delicious.