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Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for escabeche by Christine Manfield.

By Christine Manfield
  • Serves 4
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Escabeche is a Spanish dish of fried fish covered in a hot vinegar marinade and typically served cold. Variations of the dish are popular in Italy, Portugal, France, North Africa, South America and the Philippines. Originally, this technique was used to preserve the fish, which would have had a much stronger flavour than Christine Manfield's modern version here. The fish can be eaten at room temperature as soon as the marinade has cooled down, but it can also be kept refrigerated for up to three days.


  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 12 small red mullet fillets, skin on and pin-boned
  • 300 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar (125ml)
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 small red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp Spanish unsmoked sweet paprika
  • For serving: coriander, dill, mint, at-leaf parsley and oregano leaves, roughly chopped
  • For serving: crusty bread


  • 1
    Place the cumin seeds in a small frying pan (without any oil) and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant. Watch them closely as they burn quickly. Grind the roasted cumin seeds to a powder using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, then set aside.
  • 2
    Combine the flour, chilli powder and 2 tsp salt flakes. Check the fish for any remaining scales, then dust it lightly in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.
  • 3
    Heat a frying pan and add 100ml of the oil. When hot, fry the fish in small batches for 2-3 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Place the cooked fish in a single layer in a small non-reactive dish.
  • 4
    Combine the garlic, vinegar, bay leaves, thyme, sliced chilli, paprika, cumin, ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper and remaining oil in a saucepan and carefully heat over medium heat until almost boiling.
  • 5
    Remove the hot marinade from the heat and pour it over the fish. Cover with foil and leave to marinate for 1 hour at room temperature.
  • 6
    Remove the fish from the marinade and place on a serving plate. Toss the herbs with enough of the marinating liquid to coat them.
  • 7
    Serve the fish with the herbs sprinkled over the top and crusty bread on the side.


Note This recipe was published in the Sydney Seafood School Cookbook ($49.99, hbk, Penguin Lantern) by Roberta Muir and has been reproduced with minor GT style changes.