Escabeche

My thoughtful daughters gifted me a do-it-yourself fermentation kit for Christmas, 2017. Escabeche immediately came to mind.

I’ve only made escabeche one time, many years ago. The reason I only made these crunchy, zesty vegetables once is that the vinegar smelled up the house for days, which was very upsetting to my husband. I thought perhaps using the fermentation crock will “stink” up the house less.

The recipe I used was from Diana Kennedy’s ground-breaking book on Mexican cuisine, the bible, in a way – The Art of Mexican Cooking, published in 1989.

Escabeche is the Spanish word for “pickle”. Legumbres en escabeche describes a combination of pickled vegetables. It originates from Veracruz, and is a favorite for serving with Mexican dishes.

Chiles Jalapeños en Escabeche
Pickled Jalapeños
Makes about 8 cups

1 pound jalapeños, rinsed
1 1/2 pounds carrots, trimmed and scraped
3 tablespoons sea salt
1/3 cup water
5 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
10 peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seed
4 whole cloves
16 California bay leaves
Leaves from 2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup safflower oil
1 pound white bulbous onions, boiling onions, or regular white onions
3 cups mild vinegar
1 cup strong vinegar
10 garlic cloves, peeled
6 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

Remove the stems from the fresh chiles and cut each into 4 lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and put into a large bowl. I don’t have to scrape out seeds because I cut around the seeds.

Slice the carrots diagonally about 1/8” thick and add to the chiles. I used a mandoline for even slices. Sprinkle with salt and toss well. Set aside to macerate for about 1 hour.

Put the water into a blender jar and add the chopped garlic, peppercorns, cumin seed, cloves, 10 of the bay leaves, the thyme leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon of the oregano. Blend as thoroughly as possible.

Heat the oil in a large, fairly deep pan. Add the blended spices and onions and fry until the liquid has evaporated and the onions are translucent, not brown – about 10 minutes.

Strain the chiles and carrots, reserving the juice, and add to the pan. Fry over fairly high heat, stirring and turning the vegetables over for 10 minutes.

Add the chile and carrot juice, vinegars, whole garlic cloves, 6 thyme sprigs, remaining 6 bay leaves and remaining teaspoon oregano, and the sugar.

I wish you could smell this! The depth of odor is remarkable.

Bring to a boil and continue boiling for about 8 minutes. Transfer to a glass or ceramic bowl and set aside to cool before storing in the refrigerator.

But instead, just to take these pickled vegetables a step further, I used the fermentation crock for 24 hours, after the vegetables cooled down. I could have chosen 3 days, but I didn’t want the vegetables to lose crunchiness, which is very important.

The weight, placed over the vegetables and shown in the above right photo, is used to hold down the vegetables and keep them submerged in the pickling liquid.

The first time I used these aromatic pickled vegetables was with chicken and corn enchiladas made with an ancho white sauce.

Note: To better understand the difference between pickling and fermenting, this is a great read.

And if you’re interested in this kit, it was purchased at Uncommon Goods. The packaging is very sweet, and there are directions and recipes.

By Published On: August 27th, 201847 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

47 Comments

  1. Gerlinde de Broekert August 27, 2018 at 10:40 AM - Reply

    This looks so good Mimi. What a great way to use your jalapeño peppers. I pinned the recipe and one of these days I love to make it.

    • chef mimi August 27, 2018 at 11:27 AM - Reply

      It’s really wonderful. You’ll enjoy all of the smells and flavors!

  2. Chef Bill, Suppertime Blues August 27, 2018 at 11:20 AM - Reply

    I love that book too! This is something I’ve heard of and seen on a menu or two before, but I’ve never tried it. Certainly looks beautiful.

    • chef mimi August 27, 2018 at 11:28 AM - Reply

      Takes a little time, but it’s well worth it. I’d even make a double batch if my husband would eat anything pickled!

  3. Laura August 27, 2018 at 1:20 PM - Reply

    Mimi, I love escabeche! I’d love to give this a try, but I think I would likely need a fermentation pot. I have a feeling my family would not appreciate the vinegar, much like your husband. Ha! This sounds divine, by the way. Thanks!

    • chef mimi August 27, 2018 at 1:22 PM - Reply

      The recipe only requires a jar – it was just another excuse to use my fermentation pot. I have also used it to make kimchi. That was fun, too!

  4. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward August 27, 2018 at 3:30 PM - Reply

    This satisfies basically every pregnancy craving, including spicy…

    • chef mimi August 27, 2018 at 4:54 PM - Reply

      Hahahaha! Thanks, Shanna!

  5. Angela August 27, 2018 at 3:36 PM - Reply

    Yum! One of my favorite mexiMex condiments.

  6. Angela@eatlivehappy August 27, 2018 at 3:38 PM - Reply

    That was supposed to say Mexican condiments. Not sure where that meximex came from. Lol!

    • chef mimi August 27, 2018 at 4:54 PM - Reply

      Hahahahaha! I always got in trouble for not proofreading when I was young, and obviously I still don’t, because I make so many mistakes that I don’t catch! Yeah, I especially love the carrots.

      • Angela@eatlivehappy August 28, 2018 at 12:41 AM

        The carrots are my favorite too😀

  7. Ashley August 27, 2018 at 4:22 PM - Reply

    I love pickled everything! What a great gift!!!

    • chef mimi August 27, 2018 at 4:55 PM - Reply

      I agree. And my husband hates vinegar. He’s really missing out!!

  8. David August 27, 2018 at 4:52 PM - Reply

    We see this often at authentic Mexican restaurants and when we are across the border… I love it, and it had such flavor to a plate! (Not to mention great color!) I only have one of Diana Kennedy’s books, so I will need to get this one. She is brilliant.

    • chef mimi August 27, 2018 at 4:56 PM - Reply

      She’s the grand dame of Mexican cuisine. But I’ve rarely been able to follow her recipes because besides the basic available ingredients, she always has chile peppers and other ingredients that I can’t get my hands on.

  9. Mackay Sherry August 27, 2018 at 9:44 PM - Reply

    Yum I do love pickles

    • chef mimi August 27, 2018 at 10:55 PM - Reply

      Well any normal person would, right?!!!

  10. StefanGourmet August 28, 2018 at 1:17 AM - Reply

    I’ve made Richard’s version of this a couple of times and it’s so good! I especially like using the pickled jalapeños and the pickling liquid for snapper Veracruz.

    • chef mimi August 28, 2018 at 7:25 AM - Reply

      I bet it’s the same recipe. I remember talking about this book with him when we were standing at his bookshelf. It was his “bible.”

  11. kathryninthekitchen August 28, 2018 at 2:11 AM - Reply

    Beautiful colours! Pickling & fermentation is certainly huge now – such a good way of preserving too for later in the year. Isn’t it lovely when our children “get us”?!

    • chef mimi August 28, 2018 at 7:10 AM - Reply

      Yes!!!!! And my husband of 36 years still has no clue!!!

  12. Susan@savoringtimeinthekitchen August 28, 2018 at 1:06 PM - Reply

    I never knew escabeche meant pickled! What a great gift from your daughters and delicious way to put it to use. This looks like a wonderful cookbook too.

    • chef mimi August 28, 2018 at 1:15 PM - Reply

      It’s a wonderful recipe – the depth of flavors and smells are fabulous!

  13. neil@neilshealthymeals.com August 28, 2018 at 1:54 PM - Reply

    Wow. I’ve never tried pickling before. I’ll just tell the wife that I’ve another thing to add to my ever growing Christmas list. LOL!

    • chef mimi August 28, 2018 at 2:22 PM - Reply

      Hahahahaha! I understand! But I’m sure she appreciate the outcome!

  14. kitchenriffs August 29, 2018 at 10:12 AM - Reply

    Diana Kennedy is wonderful. And so is this recipe — looks so full of flavor., Love this sort of dish — thanks so much.

    • chef mimi August 29, 2018 at 8:43 PM - Reply

      Thank you!

  15. Abbe@This is How I Cook August 29, 2018 at 11:07 PM - Reply

    I have that book and I have made this! We would have such fun cooking together! This is telling me I must make this again soon!

    • chef mimi August 30, 2018 at 10:25 AM - Reply

      Exactly. I’m so glad i did! It would be fun to cook together. No one cooks with me! Except my almost-4 grand daughter!!!😂

  16. David @ Spiced August 30, 2018 at 7:02 AM - Reply

    What a fun gift, Mimi! I’m all about do-it-yourself kits when it comes to different foods (like cheese making, wine making, etc.), but I’ve never tried a fermentation kit. I need to add this to the bucket list! And then I need to start with this recipe here!

    • chef mimi August 30, 2018 at 10:24 AM - Reply

      There’s a kimchi recipe coming up… but yeah those cheese making kits are so fun!

  17. Irene August 30, 2018 at 2:12 PM - Reply

    Que rico (how yummy), chef Mimi!

    • chef mimi August 30, 2018 at 4:24 PM - Reply

      Gracias!!!

  18. sippitysup August 30, 2018 at 6:48 PM - Reply

    One thing I love about taco trucks are the jars of this they usually offer next to the salsa. I’ve never considered making my own, but am intrigued by the idea. Although strangely I have made quail escabeche! https://www.sippitysup.com/quail-escabeche-because-i-said-i-would/ GREG

    • chef mimi August 30, 2018 at 7:33 PM - Reply

      Hahahahaha! I can’t wait to click on that!!! Well I know you would love this recipe. The smells are fabulous. And honestly, my husband came home and never detected vinegar smell, because there are so many other layers! I envious of the taco trucks.

  19. Ron September 1, 2018 at 9:43 AM - Reply

    Mimi, your wonderful post took me back to my youth, which was long ago. We used to frequent Mexican restaurants and escabeche and tortilla chips were the first things to arrive at the table. I loved to take a pickled carrot and put it on top of a chip and woof it down. And, that Fermentation Crock is awesome! I got to get one of those for my kimchi.

    • chef mimi September 1, 2018 at 12:23 PM - Reply

      I made kimchi recently with that crock. It worked beautifully. Not required, but it’s fun, and is a smart design. I love the carrots best as well!

  20. FrugalHausfrau September 3, 2018 at 1:50 PM - Reply

    I have been wanting to make this! I love the vinegar smell wafting through the house, but I can see how your husband might be a little upset if he doesn’t like it! At least he’ll like eating it, hopefully! :)

    • chef mimi September 3, 2018 at 1:57 PM - Reply

      Oh hell no. He won’t eat anything pickled. More for me!

  21. thehungrybites.com September 3, 2018 at 2:11 PM - Reply

    Hey Mimi! Thanks for sharing this interesting recipe!

    • chef mimi September 3, 2018 at 4:51 PM - Reply

      You are so welcome!

  22. Kelly, RD September 3, 2018 at 11:29 PM - Reply

    I love fermented vegetables and Uncommon Goods! I love vinegar, including the smell! I wish we could cook together! I could learn so much from you!

    • chef mimi September 4, 2018 at 8:20 AM - Reply

      Aw, thanks. The reason I know a lot is because I’ve been cooking so long, which means I’m old!!!

      • Kelly, RD September 4, 2018 at 6:49 PM

        Nah. You’re not old.

  23. karrie / Tasty Ever After September 4, 2018 at 8:14 PM - Reply

    That kit was the perfect Christmas gift for you! I’ve only had escabeche fish before and have never thought about fermenting the veggies at home. Thanks for the idea and I need to get one of those kits ASAP from uncommon goods!

    • chef mimi September 5, 2018 at 7:06 AM - Reply

      The kit is really fun. Not necessary, as most people just use big jars for kimchi or general pickling, but really fun!

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