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Escabeche has a fascinating history. The word originally comes from the Persian al-sikbaj, literally meaning “vinegar food”. After mingling with the Spanish, it eventually became part of the Spanish and then Latin American cultures. Today’s escabeche is most commonly known as a fish or other meat dish marinated in something sour like vinegar or another acid.
Around these parts (southern California), escabeche is a simpler way to say “pickled vegetables in escabeche style”. It is typically found as a condiment at the salsa bars of most Mexican restaurants. Usually it is “quick pickled,” meaning vinegar and no fermentation. Well, we “naturally” had to do something about that!
- 1 lb. (450g) fresh jalapeno chiles
- 1 to 1½ lbs. (500g) cauliflower (about 1 medium head)
- ¾ lb. carrots (about 4 medium-large carrots)
- ¼ lb. (60g) white or yellow onion (about ½ of medium sized onion)
- 5-6 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons/ 45ml sea salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 quart filtered water
- 4 sprigs fresh oregano (optional)
- Wear rubber or latex gloves when handling chiles!
- Cut the tops off and seeds and membranes out from the chiles. Cut the flesh into large slices (quarters) and add directly to a half-gallon (or larger) glass mason jar, crock or other fermenting vessel.
- Slice the onions into rings (about ¼ to ½" thick), then into halves (so they are semi-circular pieces). Add to jar.
- Slice the carrots on the bias, about ¼" thick. (Peeling is optional, but clean off any dirt) and add to jar.
- Slice (or break with your hands) the cauliflower into 1" pieces and add to jar.
- Peel the garlic and smash a few of the cloves. Keep them whole, add to jar.
- (If using) Pluck oregano leaves from stems and add to bowl/jar. Mix veggies together in jar.
- Make a 5% brine (by weight). If you don't have a kitchen scale, that's about 3 tablespoons (45ml) fine sea salt per 1 quart/liter of filtered water. Mix and dissolve salt in a large container (a pitcher works great).
- Pour brine into jar. Veggies should be submerged in the brine. Fill until only 1" of head space remains from the top of the jar.
- Cover container with a tea towel or clean dishcloth to keep dust and flies out, and secure with twist ties or a rubber band.
- Or, if using a fermentation airlock, apply it and secure lid.
- Set in a cool, dark place. Taste after 5 days. Let ferment as long as you like (up to 14 days). Move to refrigerator when you like the taste and texture.
- It will last for several months in the refrigerator.