Now that the ceviches are conquering every foodie’s heart, it’s time to look at another traditional method to marinate food using an acids-based marinade. It’s called escabeche and it’s been common practice in Spain for over a thousand years.
The escabeche is a traditional Spanish cooking technique that uses a stock made of vinegar, wine, fried oil, bay and peppercorn to preserve food. Simple.
We can’t really take full credit for the idea. The Persians first and the Romans later already used vinegar to conserve their food since ancient times. It was the Persians who probably introduced this preservation technique during their continuous trading visits to the Iberian Peninsula. In fact, the name escabeche is a derivation of the Catalan word escabeix, which at the same time comes from a mispronunciation of the Arab sikbâg (acidic food).
Throughout the centuries, this method has matured and evolved well beyond being a preservation technique to become a well appreciated preparation of its own. And also, one of the main Spanish contributions to the world’s cuisine. Today, many regions in Spain include escabeches as part of their regional cuisine and it’s frequent to find recipes such as rabbit or partridge in escabeche in the menus of local restaurants all over the country.
But far from remaining an outdated classic, the escabeches are enjoying a second youth these days. Michelin-starred chefs such as Fran Martínez (Maralba Restaurant, Almansa) or Pepe Rodríguez (El Bohío, Toledo) are including updated and modernized versions of these recipes as part of their high-cuisine tasting menus.
It’s the terrific work from these chefs that it’s keeping these delicacies away from being forgotten. Thanks to them I’m pretty hopeful that escabeches will soon become as popular, if not more, as ceviches are these days.