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MACKEREL ESCABECHEAlthough escabeche is thought of as a Spanish dish, it’s actually common all round the Mediterranean. In France it is called escabèche, in Italy it’s scapece and in Algeria scabetch. While the dish comes in many forms, it usually consists of fried fish with a sharp-flavoured marinade poured over it, something that may originally have been done to preserve the fish. The fish is first left to cool and then steeped in a mixture of vinegar and herbs. Sometimes the marinade is hot, sometimes sweet and sour, sometimes thickened with some dry breadcrumbs, but it always contains vinegar. Here we’re cooking the fish directly in the marinade and letting everything cool together. It’s easy to do and the result is delicious.

  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Total Time: 24 Minutes


  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 2 small carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 300 ml/10 fl oz/1¼ cups dry white wine
  • 150 ml/5 fl oz/⅔ cup orange juice
  • zest of 1 orange, removed in strips using a vegetable peeler
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 8 x 65–90-g/2½–3½-oz fresh mackerel fillets, skin on
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over a medium-high heat, add the garlic, onion, fennel and carrots and as soon as the vegetables start to sizzle, add the bay leaves, sugar, coriander seeds and fennel seeds. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the white wine, orange juice, orange zest and vinegar and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes to allow the flavours to combine. Lift out the orange zest and discard.
  3. Lay the mackerel fillets skin-side up in an oven dish and pour over the hot marinade. Cook in the oven for 4–6 minutes.
  4. Although the escabeche should be served lukewarm, it also tastes good served chilled.

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