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Escabeche Isda

Escabeche is a dish Filipinos adapted from Spanish and made local modifications of our own. There are different variations from all over the Philippines. Moreover, this dish usually consists of fish or meat cooked in vinegar and spiced with carrots, peppers, garlic, onions, and peppercorns or ground peppers. We then made some modifications and gave it a hint of sweetness.

This recipe is very easy to make. If you enjoy veggies, be sure to make more sauteed vegetables. Also, make sure to add more sliced pineapples as a garnish to enhance the sweetness to it. I separately cook the vegetables and the sweet and sour sauce. You may do the same or merge the two if desired. Join me in learning how to make this savory and sweet Filipino dish. Let’s get started!

Filipino Sweet and Sour Fish - Escabeche Isda


Fried Fish

  • 2 lbs whole or sliced fish, bone-in (I used whole pompano fish)
  • Dashes Kosher salt
  • 2 cups cooking oil

Sauteed vegetables

  • 3 tbsp annatto oil
  • 1 medium-sized onion, sliced
  • 6 whole garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large ginger root, thinly cut into 3-inch strips
  • 1 cup matchsticks carrots (or cut into thin strips)
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 tub (10 oz) fresh pineapples, sliced (save some for garnish)
  • 3 tbsp pineapple juice
  • 3 stalks spring onions, cut into 3-inch batons
  • Salt and pepper to taste (adjust to taste)

Sweet and sour sauce

Cornstarch slurry

  • ½-1 cup filtered water (at room temp)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch (or corn flour)

Items You’ll Need

  • Cutting board
  • Knives
  • Baking sheet
  • Large saucepan or pot
  • Large frying pan or skillet
  • Measuring bowls, cups, spoons
  • Cooling rack
  • Paper towel
  • Wooden spatula
  • Serving plates
  • Serving bowls


Clean the Fish

Cleaning fish for escabeche recipe

Place the fish on a cutting board and make a 3-4 inches vertical cut on the upper stomach found below the gill cover. Cutting will help remove the gills and guts out easily. Then remove the gills along with other intestinal parts (if there are fish eggs you may leave them if you like to eat them). Wash thoroughly until water runs clear. You may slice them to your desired size or keep them whole. I like scoring the fish so it’s easy to see the meat as it cooks, it’s up to you if you want to do the same. Then pat them dry on both sides. Apply salt on both sides as well. Salt the cavity too if preferred. Set aside for later.

Cook the Fish

frying fish in iron skillet

In a large frying pan or skillet, heat some cooking oil over high heat. When the oil is hot, turn the heat to medium-high and slowly lower the fish. Cook them for 8-10 minutes on each side or until golden. Place the cooked fish on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Set aside for later.

Saute the Vegetables

sauteeing vegetables for escabeche isda recipe

In a large saucepan or pot, heat some annatto oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion until translucent. Mix in the crushed garlic and saute until fragrant. Next, add the strips of ginger and saute until soft. Add the carrots. Cook them until soft, then the bell peppers. Give a good stir until well mixed. Cook for another 3-5 minutes or until soft but still crunchy. Mix in some pineapple (with the juice if there are any). Then the spring onions. Stir it well. Then season with some salt and pepper. Give it another good stir then set it aside for later.

Make the Sweet and Sour Sauce

Adding ingredients to sweet and sour sauce in a pot on a stove

In a small saucepan, combine the water, light soy sauce or toyo, distilled white vinegar, brown sugar, and pineapple juice. Mix well. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat for 10-15 or until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat.

Put Together the Sweet and Sour Fish

Adding sweet and sour sauce on fish in bowl

Now, let’s put together our ingredients. In a large serving bowl or plate arrange some of the sauteed vegetables. Pour a couple of spoonfuls of the sauce. Then place the fried fish and pour some sauce onto the fish. Turn it over and pour some sauce on the other side as well. Then cover the fish with some more sauteed veggies. Pour more sweet and sour sauce as needed. Garnish with some more pineapples. Serve warm with some steamed rice for lunch or dinner. Enjoy!

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Billy Madisoni
Billy Madisoni
Billy Madisoni

This sweet and sour fish is so yum!