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Escabeche Costa Rican Style

This entry is part of a series, F4F 2011»


A quick note today; I’m stealing from the best borrowing a recipe from the Today show, one that looks quite tasty and I know must have plenty of zing. (I’ll put the ingredients and procedure summary here, in case the link goes dead in the future, but go to their site to see the video now. And remember, this recipe is the property of Chef Govind Armstrong! Be kind.)


  • 2 pounds snapper fillets
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1 cup malt vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sliced olives
  • 1 tablespoon capers


Cut the fish into 2-inch wide strips and pat them dry. Season the flour with salt and pepper, dredge the fish in it, and pat off any excess flour. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the fish until it is lightly browned on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and then put the fish in one layer into a shallow glass dish.

Drain the oil from the skillet, return it to medium heat, and add 3 tablespoons fresh olive oil. Add the onions, bell peppers, and scotch bonnet, if using, and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, and allspice and cook for another 2 minutes. Pour in the vinegar and water and bring it to a boil. Spoon the vegetables and herbs over the fish and then add the vinegar sauce. Garish with the olives and capers, serve hot or let it cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, serve with beans and rice.

The spice and seasoning blend in this preparation is amazing, and the colors add great eye appeal. Easy to prepare too, you just follow the video.

If you don’t want your escabeche this “authentic,” (that is, hot), substitute in some nice ripe Thai or Cayenne chiles. Or tone it down further using Serranos, or even red jalapeño or Fresno chiles. It’s the beauty of this beast, after all; you can enjoy it as designed, or adjust to suit…

If You Can’t Stand Our Heat, Go to Costa Rica (in Style) …


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