Any guesses as to what this under all this stuff? A fried fish, of courseâ€¦ Ever since I can remember, I adored fried fish with escabeche sauce. I think it was the fact that the sweet sour sauce basically masked whatever it covered and so if I had to get through a meal I didnâ€™t particularly like, I simply ate the sauce and some steamed rice. This sauce is one of those things that has been abused, in my opinion. It now covers whole fish, fillets, steaks, pork chops, squid, you name it. It has also gotten way sweeter (even gets canned pineapples!) rather than sour and the critical balance between the two tastes is often lost. It has also lost many of the spices that often appear in a more Spanish rendition. Finally, it gets a whopping treatment of cornstarch that often makes it too thick though I have to admit I hate it when it is runnyâ€¦
At any rate, I was in the market in Bohol (not the main one, but a fish market in town, which I forgot the name of) last week and came upon these stunningly fresh lapu-lapu that looked like they had died just seconds before I got there. I purchased several and returned to our hotel (where I had some influenceâ€¦) and got them to fry it and smother it with escabeche sauce up for lunch. For something I love so much, I have NEVER made escabeche myself. Our pinoy version has evolved a bit from the Spanish and it often includes ginger, garlic, onions, carrots, red peppers, green onions, water, vinegar, tomatoes, ketchup, salt, pepper and cornstarch.
First the fish is cleaned and salted then deep fried in lots of oil over a really hot flame. Some folks like to dredge the fish in flour first but I find I like it au naturel if the fish is wickedly fresh. Then prepare the sauce separately and pour over the fish and serve IMMEDIATELY. The dish shouldnâ€™t sit around for minutes as the sauce will soften up the crisp fish. There were just two of us at the table for lunch. We easily put away a 1.3 kilo lapu-lapu with lots of white rice and a FEW other dishes to boot. Piggly wiggly, I know. While I only eat this piping hot, others actually serve escabeche at room temperatureâ€¦