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.

47 thoughts on “Escabeche

  1. 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.

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

  2. 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!

    • 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!

    • 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.

  3. 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.

    • 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.

  4. 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.

    • 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.”

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

    • 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!!!😂

  6. 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!

    • 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.

  7. 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.

    • 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!

  8. 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! :)

  9. 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!

    • 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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