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Rick's Seared Fish in Escabeche

In chef Rick Bayless's escabeche recipe, tangy fruit vinegar and water replace the richer, heavier flavors of wine and stock.

  • servings: 6

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 five- to six-ounce boneless and skinless red snapper or halibut fillets, about 3/4 inch thick (mahi-mahi, grouper, or salmon can also be used)
  • 1 large white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, quartered
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup Homemade Chicken Stock Homemade Chicken Stock, skimmed of fat (or 1 cup water)
  • 1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • Leaves from 6 sprigs fresh thyme, roughly chopped, plus whole sprigs for garnish, or 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 two-inch piece cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican canela
  • Coarse salt
  • 3 to 4 large fresh or pickled jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced lengthwise

Directions

  1. Step 1

    In a large, well-seasoned cast-iron or nonstick skillet, heat 1/2 cup oil over medium-high heat. Pat fish dry. Working in batches if necessary, cook in a single uncrowded layer until brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn, and cook until second side is brown and fish flakes under firm pressure, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove to a plate, and set aside. Discard oil from pan.

  2. Step 2

    Reduce heat to medium, and add remaining tablespoon oil. When hot, add onions, carrots, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and carrots are almost soft, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine cloves and black pepper in a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder, and process until coarsely ground. Add to vegetables, along with stock, vinegar, bay leaves, thyme, and cinnamon. Cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Taste; season with salt (about 3/4 teaspoon), and stir in jalapeno strips.

  3. Step 3

    To serve warm, lay fillets over simmering escabeche, cover, and gently heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Place one fillet on each of six plates, and spoon some of the escabeche over each one. Garnish with sprigs of thyme. To serve cool, arrange fish on a deep serving platter, and spoon escabeche over. As it cools to room temperature, the fish and vegetables will absorb much of the liquid.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, June 2001

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