25 June 2010

Sardines in Escabeche

Spanish "escabeche" salsa? pickle? marinade? Escabeche can be seen on a wide variety of Spanish tinned seafood, the most popular being mussels but what exactly is it? It would be wrong to assume that it is a salsa although nowadays it is commonly regarded as being so. Escabeche has a purpose, the traditional recipe still in use today uses olive oil and wine vinegar as the base to a mixture which was actually made to preserve seafood and meat products (particularly game) in days gone by.

The addition of herbs in escabeche packs a real flavour punch - thyme, rosemary, garlic infuse with the olive oil making fresh crusty bread for dipping a must for home made escabeche. Wine vinegar is also used which, during cooking smells quite potent, however when you taste the meat there is only a slight hint of acidity which actually compliments fish and meat very well. A salsa? well yes, the advent of the fridge has seen this Spanish mixture become more of a flavour part of cooking instead of a necesity for preserving food. Escabeche is usually served cold with cold meat so also acts as a marinade. Here we have a simple recipe of fresh sardines in home made escabeche, enjoy.


12 Sardines
50g Plain flour
200ml Olive oil
80ml White/red wine vinegar
½ Teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1 Small onion, diced
Sprig of fresh thyme
Sprig of fresh rosemary
6 Garlic cloves
Handful broadleaf parsley, chopped


1. Butterfly the sardines by removing the head, gutting and pulling out the spine.

2. Dust each fish in the flour then fry for 2 minutes each side. Once cooked place the fish onto a cazuela.

3. Whilst the pan is still hot add the remaining ingredients except the parsley, bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Pour the infused oil over the sardines and leave to cool for half an hour.

5. Serve the fish on salad and garnish with the parsley.

6. Enjoy the now infused oil with fresh crusty bread for dipping.


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