Escabeche is the name for a number of dishes in Spanish, Portuguese, Filipino and Latin American cuisines, consisting of marinated fish, meat or vegetables, cooked or pickled in an acidic sauce (usually with vinegar), and colored with paprika, citrus, and other spices.

Escabeche of Spanish mackerel (narrow-barred Spanish mackerel)
Region or stateMediterranean, Latin America, the Philippines, Guam
Main ingredientsFish or meat or vegetables
Ingredients generally usedVinegar, paprika, or saffron
Escabeche of tilapia, from the Philippines

In both Spain and Latin America, many variations exist, including frying the main ingredient before marinating it. Escabeche of seafood, fish, chicken, rabbit, or pork, also vegetables vegan are common in Spain, Caribbean and Portugal. Eggplant escabeche is common in Argentina.


The Spanish and Portuguese word escabeche originates from Andalusi Arabic (spoken in Muslim Iberia) and ultimately Persian.[1] It is derived from al-skepaj (السكباج), the name of a popular meat dish cooked in a sweet-and-sour sauce, usually containing vinegar and honey or date molasses.[2] This technique spread throughout the former Spanish Empire and is particularly common in Latin America and the Philippines.

The dish is known as escoveitch or escoveech fish in Jamaica and is marinated in a sauce of vinegar, onions, carrots, and Scotch bonnet peppers overnight. It is known as scapece or savoro in Italy, savoro in Greece (especially Ionian islands), and scabetche in North Africa.


The dish is common in Spain and has evolved with local modifications in the Spanish-speaking world. It is well represented in Portugal, usually spiced with peppercorns, chilies, peppers, onions, garlic and sliced carrots. The dish is popular in the Philippines and Guam, both former Spanish colonies, where it is the closest to the original Spanish version: using fish that is locally available but respecting the original technique.

In international versions like in Peru, escabeche is usually poached or fried, then served cold after marinating in a refrigerator overnight or longer. The acid in the marinade is usually vinegar but can include citrus juice (a common conservation technique—a pH of 4 or lower effectively stops rotting).[3] Escabeche is a popular presentation of canned or potted preserved fish, such as mackerel,[4] tuna, bonito, or sardines.

Escabeche oriental is a dish of the cuisine of Yucatan (Mexico) and Belize. It is called oriental (eastern), because it is a dish from the eastern part of Yucatán, specifically the city of Valladolid. It is prepared with turkey or chicken, which was marinated in a mixture of coriander leaves, salt, pepper, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, vinegar and garlic. The chicken is boiled in water with onion strips and sour orange juice. Then, the cooked meat is fried in butter or oil with garlic, oregano and salt. The poultry is served crispy and bathed with fried onion and xcat-ik or blonde chilis strips.

In Abruzzo region of Italy, is cooked fried and the fish is immersed in vinegar and saffron which gives it the intense yellow color that characterizes it.[5]

See also

  • Arsik
  • Brathering, a German version, often served for breakfast
  • Ceviche, raw fish in an acidic marinade
  • Kelaguen
  • Nanbanzuke


  1. ASALE, RAE-; RAE. "escabeche | Diccionario de la lengua española". «Diccionario de la lengua española» - Edición del Tricentenario (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-12-07.
  2. Medieval Arab Cookery, Maxime Rodinson, A. J. Arberry, and Charles Perry. ISBN 0-907325-91-2.
  3. "Escabeche (Sweet and Sour Fish)". Genius Kitchen. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  4. Lagasse, Emeril. "33 Spanish Starters". 33 Spanish Starters. Food Network UK. Food Network, n.d. Web. 29 Dec. 2015.
  5. La Scapece | Region of Abruzzo | Department of Economic Development - Tourism
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