#118 escabeche

Let’s call it exotic for all you Curious George’s out there!  This particularly simple form of pickled vegetables is somewhat similar to my previously posted Encurtido recipe, which can also technically be called cebollas en escabeche, or pickled onions.  This old cooking version is a mainstay in Latin American cuisine and when it comes to setting the table, this mix of spicy pickled vegetables is almost as expected as the food itself for some aficionados!

Escabeche is actually the Spanish word for ‘pickled’, but in a more broader sense of the word, it’s used for a number of dishes in both Mediterranean & Latin American cuisines.  In Spain, Portugal, & France, the term refers to a dish of fish marinated & cooked in an acidic mixture & usually colored with Spanish paprika or saffron.  The origin of the word is Persian, and was brought to Spain by the Arabs during the Moorish conquests.  Over on our side of the Atlantic Ocean, the recipes differ from country to country, but is mostly vegetable-based & a common conservation technique.

A simple & zesty combination of crunchy vegetables is a favorite for us.  Pickled ‘anything’ can be prepared in this traditional Mexican technique, and the most common veggies used are jalapeños, onions, carrots, radishes, & cauliflower.  It’s a popular accompaniment or condiment to dishes all over Latin America…just close your eyes & think tacos, burritos, or just about anything with a tortilla!  Mmm…

The jalapeños, of course, are a must.  Tart & piquant, these pickled veggies hit the spot in the most magical way!  Also, the fact that the veggies stay crunchy for weeks is awesome in its own way!  The pickling liquid is pretty basic which allows the veggie taste to somehow shine through.  The best way to serve them cold as a side dish, but the truth is, the best part of escabeche is just how versatile it really is.  It’s a great way to store veggies when they’re in season, like these fresh carrots from the garden!

For the Escabeche

  • 1 cup of small cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup of thinly sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup of sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup of sliced jalapeños
  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 bay leaf

Put the cauliflower, carrots, onion, and jalapeños in a wide mouth canning jar or a heatproof glass or ceramic bowl.  Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, garlic cloves, oregano, & bay leaf in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Remove from the heat.  Carefully our the vinegar mixture over the vegetables.

Let sit for about an hour, or until completely cooled.  Cover with a tight-fitting lid and let sit at room temperature for about 24 hours before serving.  The veggies can be kept in the refrigerator for over a month and are great served cold!

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