Escabeche hails from the Spanish cuisine and as a result it can be also found in South America and in The Philippines.  It commonly uses fish or chicken, that is briefly fried on the outside, after which it is steeped in a warm mixture of fried onion, garlic, peppers or paprika with some vinegar and sugar. It is stored for one or more days in the refrigerator, where the taste develops into something complex.

The art of making mackerel escabeche

To make mackerel escabeche, first red onions and some garlic are sauteed, with optional some peppers or other vegetables. Once glazed, some vinegar and sugar are added and steeped at low fire for some time. Then the mackerel filets are pan-fried briefly on both sides. The still hot onion and vinegar mixture is poured over the filets and they cook still in these juices. Thereafter the filets are stored in the fridge. Before serving, the bones need to be taken out. Often it is not possible to keep the filets intact and they cut up by themselves. The taste is unique and mouth watering. You can easily make this dish one or two days in advance.

Special equipment

a skillet

Mackerel escabeche©️ genio van der Schaft

Mackerel escabeche

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
1 day
Total Time 1 day 30 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Spanish
Servings 5


for the sauce

  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 green or red bell pepper optional
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar or similar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup water or white wine
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • pepper and salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp sliced ginger
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

for the fish

  • 2 mackerel filets
  • 2 tbsp oil


to make the sauce

  • Heat up the oil in a skillet
  • Add the garlic, sautee for a minute
  • Add the onions, stir and after a hal minutes add the ginger
  • Wait until the onion softens
  • Add peppers or paprika if using; stir
  • Add the vinegar, water or wine, the soy sauce and sugar
  • Keep stirring on low-medium heat until the sauce thickens somewhat
  • Cover the pan with a lid, so it stays warm

to make the fish

  • Heat up the oil in the skillet
  • Pan-fry the filets at both sides briefly. They should get some color
  • Once fried, add the warm sauce mixture, cover and let slowly cool down
  • When cooled down, place in the fridge for at least a day
  • Before serving, remove all bones from the fish and return the fish into the mixture.
  • Serve at room temperature, but not heated!


Method: pan-fry
Food allergy & intolerance information: none
Keyword escabeche, mackerel, vinagar, sugar


You will find that you can endlessly experiment. You can add some spice, you can make it sweeter, more vinegary and different fish, will also have different outcomes. The ease is that you are flexible in the storage time and it always is a topper with your guests

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