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Marinated Fish Steaks: Pescado en Escabeche by Karen Hursh Graber © 2006

This is one version of the many recipes for pickled fish so popular in Mexico, especially during the warm spring months before the rainy season. It should be brought to room temperature before serving. Any good quality, firm-fleshed fish steaks can be used.


  • 4 1-inch thick fish steaks
  • juice of 1 fresh lime
  • 8 cloves garlic, roasted on a comal or griddle until lightly charred, then peeled
  • ¼ teaspoon each peppercorns, coriander seeds and cumin seeds
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 whole allspice
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • pinch sugar salt to taste
  • oil for frying


Marinate the fish steaks in the lime juice for 15 minute or so while the escabeche is being made. Longer marinating will "cook" the fish and toughen it.

Place the roasted garlic, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves and allspice in a mortar or electric grinder and grind to a paste.

Place the garlic and spice paste, water, oregano, bay leaf, oil, vinegar, salt and sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the oil for frying in a skillet and fry the fish steaks, about 4-5 minutes on each side, until just barely cooked through. They will "cook" more in the hot marinade.

Place the fish steaks on a serving dish and pour the hot marinade over them. Bring to room temperature before serving. Decorate with pickled red onions (see panuchos recipe) and pickled chiles if desired. This is good with crusty bolillos or French bread and cold beer or mineral water with sliced lime. Serves 4.

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Published or Updated on: April 1, 2006 by Karen Hursh Graber © 2008
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Follow Karen as she travels through the Central Mexican state of Puebla, meeting local cooks, tasting the food, and collecting recipes. With over 75 recipes, plus sections on ingredients and cooking techniques, the book takes the reader on a journey through one of Mexico's oldest and most renowned culinary regions. It can be ordered online.

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