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Peruvian Fish Escabeche

by Lorena

Fish escabeche is one of my favourite Peruvian dishes. Peruvian Fish Escabeche has an intense flavour, with red wine vinegar and Peruvian chillies. It’s served with sweet potato, hard-boiled egg and olives. It’s an impressive dish, with flavours to fall in love with.

Peruvian Fish Escabeche

Escabeche is a cooking technique that involves fish, meats or vegetables that are marinated in vinegar and spices. There are a few dishes around the world that use it and this is the Peruvian version. As a perfect example, this Peruvian fish escabeche mixes vinegar with Peruvian chillies, Alfonso olives, sweet potato and hard-boiled egg. It’s a spectacular dish, a true explosion of flavours.

The flavours

What I love the most about the Peruvian Fish Escabeche is the mix of flavours and textures it possesses. Let’s start with the flavours. The vinegary taste is delicious and very well balanced with the chilli pastes. It’s important to use a good quality red wine vinegar, you’ll notice the difference. The key to balancing the acidic taste in this dish (but I promise it’s manageable) is the sweet potato, I love that combination. And if you use a nice, fresh fish, you know it goes amazing with acid.

The texture

In addition to flavour, texture-wise, this Peruvian Fish Escabeche doesn’t stay behind either. To begin, you fry the fish, then in that pan, you add the ingredients for the sauce, only until it breaks into a boil. If you leave them longer the onion becomes soft. And I think the crunchy onion is one of the best things in this dish. Afterwards, you cover this fried fish with the sauce to absorb it and it marinates overnight. If you need the recipe for the Peruvian chilli pastes, here they are:

Ají Amarillo paste
The classic and indispensable.
Check out this recipe
Ají mirasol paste
Made with dried Yellow Chilli, adds depth and thickness.
Check out this recipe
Ají panca paste
Smoky, intense and delicious.
Check out this recipe

An important debate around this dish is the perfect temperature to serve it. After making it, it’s ideal to leave it in the fridge overnight to let it marinate well and allow the flavours to develop. Many people eat it cold, others at room temperature and there are a few that like to heat it up, like my dad. Personally, I like to remove the Peruvian Fish Escabeche from the fridge a couple of hours before eating it and then eat it at room temperature. If you like escabeche and causa, you need to try an escabeche causa. You make everything the same with this recipe only that you cut the dish into bite-size pieces. Once ready and marinated, you serve it over a base of causa potato mix.

Peruvian Fish Escabeche

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Course: Main Course
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Author: Lorena Salinas from Cravings Journal


For the fish

  • 4 pieces of fish, each 10x10cm / 3x3in I used sea bass, use any fresh white fish you can access
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil

For the escabeche

  • 2 fresh yellow chillies, remove the tips, open them in half and remove the seeds and veins with a spoon.
  • 3 small red onions, cut in thick slices
  • 4 tbsp ají mirasol paste
  • 4 tbsp ají panca paste
  • 4 tbsp ají amarillo paste
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 250 ml red wine vinegar look for a nice quality one

To serve

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs peeled and cut in quarters
  • 650 g cooked and peeled sweet potato
  • 4 Alfonso olives
  • Fresh oregano to serve


For the fish

  • Season the pieces on either side with salt and pepper. Then coat with the flour and tap them to release the excess.
  • In a pan, add about 3mm high of oil. Preheat it over medium-high heat.
  • Add two pieces of fish at a time, crisping them up on either side.
  • Remove the fish and place it on the deep dish you'll be marinating it in.
  • Carefully remove the oil from the pan.

For the escabeche

  • In the same pan, add all the ingredients for the escabeche, mix and let it come to a boil.
  • AS SOON as it starts to boil, remove the sauce from the heat and pour it onto the fish. You also want to lift up the fish to get some of that sauce under it.
  • Let it rest for AT LEAST 4 hours (2 hours if you're REALLY in a rush) but ideally overnight in the fridge.
  • Serve cold, at room temperature or hot, no judgement here. Serve it with sliced cooked sweet potato, hardboiled egg and olives. It's also good with a portion of rice if you like it.
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