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Escabeche is a Filipino fish dish, where large fish is cooked in a sauce made with vinegar, onion, garlic, ginger, carrot, bell pepper, soy sauce, brown sugar and slurry. Escabeche is a common centrepiece for a lot of fiestas and holiday celebrations. The more expensive and larger your fish is, the more bongga is your celebration. If you’re planning to have one, here is a scrumptious recipe for you.



Lechon had been our centrepiece for a lot of our family celebrations. Since we got conscious on cholesterol and fat levels due to our ageing family members, we started using fish escabeche instead. It was a healthier option and still brought joy to our dining table.

Escabeche is a popular dish worldwide. Some of the countries which includes escabeche in their cuisine are Spain, France and Portugal. But it was known the the word escabeche is of Persian origin. The original escabeche is a colourful and tangy dish wherein meat is marinated and cooked in vinegar and spices.

I had been searching on the etymology of the word but cannot find any at the moment. Based on history, Filipinos learn escabeche from the Spaniard during the 1500s. The Filipino version of this dish is almost similar to a sweet and sour dish. A variety of meat can be used in making escabeche but using a giant fish is the most popular one. Some of the most common fishes used include tilapia, maya-maya, lapu-lapu, tanigue, pampano, apahap and talikitok.

Fiesta celebrations usually use these extravagant fish varieties for their escabeche. If you simply want to enjoy it on a nice afternoon, save the expensive giant fish on special events and use any flat and wide fish which is much more affordable and available. Tilapia would be a great example.

The giant fish are either fried or steamed wherein a variety of vegetable are decorated on top of it. With the common use of bell peppers as its topping, some describe this dish as fish with some sort of atchara on top. It is best eaten with hot steaming rice.

Escabeche recipe


Don’t be too pressure on making this wonderful centrepiece. This is actually easy to make and will only require you a few steps.

Start by preparing your fish. The cleaning process is similar to how you clean the other fish. You may either fry or steam the fish. I dredge the fish in flour to make sure I’ll have a nice and crispy skin. In this recipe, I fried it until both sides are golden brown and crispy. You may then transfer the fish to your serving plate.

The last thing to do is the escabeche sauce. Sauté your aromatics and add the rest of the ingredients one by one until you achieve a nice sauce. Use a slurry to make it thick. The sauce will be much thicker as it cools down. Top the fried fish with the escabeche sauce. Try to put all the colourful vegetables on top for a more glamorous look. Finish it by garnishing with chopped spring onions. Your escabeche is now ready to serve.

When served in a fiesta or any celebrations, I noticed that some visitors are a bit shy of digging in the escabeche. If you will be using it this way, it will be easier if you pre-cut the fish so the visitors can enjoy individual serving portions. Enjoy it with a lot of hot steaming rice!


Course: Filipino Recipes, Fish Recipes




  • 1 large fish (we used Tilapia)

  • 1 small onion (sliced)

  • 3 cloves of garlic (sliced)

  • 1 thumb-sized ginger (sliced)

  • 2 pieces bell peppers (cut into strips)

  • 1 small carrot (cut into strips)

  • 6 tablespoon brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

  • ½ cup water

  • 3 tablespoons slurry (2 tablespoons starch dissolve in 2 tablespoons water)

  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Prepare the fish and remove the scales. Make some slits and rub both side with salt. Dredge the fish in starch.
  • Heat a lot of oil in the pan. Fry the fish one side at a time until crispy and golden brown. Flip to cook the other side. Transfer the fried fish in a paper towel to drain excess oil.
  • In another pan, heat some oil. Sauté the onions, ginger, and garlic for 30 seconds until aromatic and light brown. Add the carrots and bell pepper. Pour some water and add the soy sauce, ketchup and brown sugar. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour the vinegar and do not stir. Let it cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add the slurry and stir gently until the sauce thickens.
  • Plate the fried fish in a flat serving dish. Pour the escabeche sauce over the fried fish and garnish with some chopped onion springs. Serve it with some hot steaming rice and enjoy!

Escabeche Recipe (TAGALOG)


  • 1 malaking isda (we used Tilapia)
  • 1 maliit na sibuyas (hiniwa)
  • 3 butil ng bawang (hiniwa)
  • 1 thumb-sized luya (hiniwa)
  • 2 piraso ng bell peppers (hiwain ng strips)
  • 1 maliit na carrot (hiwain ng strips)
  • 6 kutsara ng asukal na pula
  • 2 kutsara ng toyo
  • 2 kutsara ng suka
  • ½ tasa ng tubig
  • 3 kutsara ng slurry (2 tablespoons ng starch na tinunaw sa tubig)
  • asin at paminta


  1. Ihanda ang isda at alisin ang mga kaliskis. Mag-gawa ng mga hiwa sa katawan ng isda at kiskisan ng asin. Lagyan ng starch ang dalawang gilid ng isda.
  2. Magpainit ng maraming mantika. Iprito ang isda hanggang maging crispy at golden brown. Baliktarin para maluto ang kabilang side. Ilipat ang pritong isda sa paper towel para tumulo ang sobrang mantika.
  3. Sa isa pang kawali, magpainit ng konting mantika. Igisa ang sibuyas, luya at bawang ng 30 segundo hanggang maging light brown. Sunod na ilagay ang carrots at bell peppers. Maglagay ng konting tubig at ang toyo, ketchup at asukal na pula. Budburan ng asin at paminta.
  4. Ilagay ang suka. Huwag muna haluin. Hayaan ito maluto ng 30 seconds.
  5. Ilagay ang slurry at haluin ng dahan-dahan hanggang lumapot ang sauce.
  6. Ilagay ang pritong isda sa isang serving dish. Ilagay ang escabeche sauce sa ibabaw at budburan ng hiniwang onion springs. Ihain kasama ng mainit na kanin at enjoy!
How to cook Escabeche
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