Pescado Guisado en Escabeche (Escovitched Fish) is one of my favorite dishes in our collection of traditional Dominican recipes. Which is something I am certain Aunt Ilana would not say herself.
You see, 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.
- 1 cup of cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 6 sea bass or red snapper fillets
- 1 cup of oil for frying (peanut, soy or corn)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 large onion , sliced
- 4 tomatoes , chopped
- 2 bell peppers cut into strips
- 1 cup of tomato sauce
- 1 cup of water
- 1 teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
- 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.
Heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the onions and cook and stir until the onions become translucent. Add the tomatoes and pepper and cook and stir for a minute. Add the tomato sauce and water. Cover and simmer until the tomatoes and pepper are cooked through.
Season with salt to taste. Add the basil and mix. Carefully place the meat on the sauce, and turn until it is coated with the sauce on all sides.
Remove from the heat and serve immediately.
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.