Samar Time: Samar-Style Fish Escabeche

9 months ago


The word escabeche may sound like it came from the Philippines, but in truth this cooking technique, which means to cook in an acidic mixture and season it with pimenton or saffron, is of Spanish colloquial origin. Other former Spanish colonies like Guam and select South American countries and even Portugal and France are familiar with this style of cooking. For this recipe, escabeche is done Samar-style using cane vinegar and turmeric.



Makes 4-5 servings


½ kilo Fish steaks (Mahi-mahi or blue marlin), or 1 medium-size whole fish such as lapu-lapu, labahita, tilapia, or ½ kilo small whole fish like hasa-hasa, alumahan, matambaka

  • Salt, for seasoning

1 cup Cooking oil



2 Tbsps Cooking oil

6 cloves Garlic, crushed

1 Onion, thinly sliced

3 thumb size Turmeric root (luyang dilaw), julienned

2 thumb size Ginger, julienned

1 Red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 Green bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 cup Cane vinegar

¼ cup Sugar

1 Tbsp Salt

  • Water, as needed


  1. Rinse the fish steaks in water. Drain then pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt. If using a whole fish, ask fish vendor to remove the fish gills and entrails, then clean fish thoroughly by rinsing in water. Drain then pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt.
  2. Heat some oil in a frying pan. Pan-fry the fish steaks until lightly seared on both sides. If using medium or small whole fish, fry until golden on both sides. Remove from heat when cooked and set aside.
  3. Next, make the escabeche sauce. In a large sauté pan, heat cooking oil and sauté the garlic and onions until soft.
  4. Toss in luyang dilaw, ginger, and bell peppers.
  5. Pour in cane vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir to dissolve. Bring to a boil then simmer for a few minutes to allow the acidity of the vinegar to evaporate. Add a little water if you prefer a milder sauce.
  6. Add fish and let simmer in the sauce for about two minutes. Taste and correct seasoning with salt and/or sugar. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving platter. Serve with steamed rice.

Recipe by Peter Lim

Photographed by John Ocampo

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