May 16, 2017

Escabeche (Sweet and Sour Fried Fish)

Growing up as a child of the Martial Law years and into the recession of the '80s, I grew in a mindset of cost-cutting and zero wastage, especially when it comes to food.  The downside of that was, sometimes we'd think we'd never see the end of a particular food (especially if there'd been a lot of leftovers); the upside was that this made us resourceful and creative especially in giving food some bagong-bihis.  I've carried the habit over the years, and I always pore through the contents of my refrigerator for what I can put together into a "new" dish before I even take something out of the freezer.

This dish is one of such 'upcycled' ones. :)


What's In It?

Leftover fried fish (preferably fleshy ones like dalagang bukid, alumahan, hasa-hasa)
3-5 T cooking oil
2 T peeled and sliced ginger
3 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
1 large scallion/red onion, peeled and sliced
2 finger chilis, sliced into rounds
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 c water
2 T brown sugar
2 T fish sauce
1/3 c white or cane vinegar

Kitchen Conjugations:

In a wok or deep pan, heat oil.  Reheat left-over fried fish until crispy.  Remove from heat and transfer onto serving dish.  Set aside.

Onto the waiting hot oil, add in ginger, and let fry in hot oil for half a minute.  Add in red onions and stir fry for another half minute.  Add in garlic and finger chili and continue sautéing for  15 seconds.

Pour in brown sugar and fish sauce and stir to combine.  Add in water.  Let boil then pour in vinegar. DO NOT STIR. Let mixture boil then lower heat to simmer for 3 minutes.  Check seasonings, add sugar or fish sauce or ground black pepper or vinegar, to achieve the right balance of sweet-sour-salty and spice.

Remove sauce from heat and pour over fried fish. Serve hot with steamed rice.  Enjoy!



1.  Some opt to add the fried fish into the simmering sauce to allow the fish to absorb the taste of the liquid. For me this makes the fish soggy, which I don't like, so I opt to pour the sauce right before serving.  But of course you can always have it either way. :)

2. It is important NOT TO STIR vinegar when it has not yet boiled, as otherwise it will taste raw.