Lapu-Lapu Escabeche a la Marketman


Fried fish or meat with a sweet and sour sauce of some sort is a favorite combination of mine. Escabeche style anything as a kid meant I could survive on the sauce and rice alone, even if the underlying protein was fried frog’s legs… Escabeche, according to Wikipedia, from the Spanish or Persian term for something “acidic”, evolved away from the typically cold dish in Spain, often marinated overnight in the sour sauce. In the Philippines, the term escabeche refers to anything slathered with this sweet and sour style sauce. Last weekend at the Nasugbu market, one of my sukis had these incredibly fresh 1 kilo red lapu-lapu’s (grouper) that I snapped up and decided to cook for lunch that day, escabeche style.


So many folks who head to the beach on a weekend are likely to bring their entire menu with them from Manila, often ignoring anything that might be available in the local markets. I realize it’s easy to do that, not having to worry about what they might or might not find in the local markets, but I prefer to leave a couple of meals completely to chance/serendipity. Sometimes you get lucky and in the worst of times, you eat modestly. This entire dish was based on ingredients all found LOCALLY. The fish was caught off the Batangas coast, the veggies were grown in the area, and everything looked as though they had been harvested within the past few hours…


We chopped or sliced up lots of fresh ginger, shallots that were so fresh they still had soil on them, white onions, green onions, garlic, red peppers and finger chilies or siling mahaba, seeds taken out to reduce the heat factor a bit. We used lots and lots of tomatoes and even then, we could have used more…


In a fish pan, heat up some oil (not quite enough in this pan, we ran out…) and season your fish with salt and pepper and cover it with a light dusting of flour or cornstarch and fry it until done, just a few minutes on each side unless the fish is really thick. Dry this on paper towels and transfer to your serving dish.


Meanwhile in another pan, heat up some oil, saute the ginger for a minute or so, add the onions and garlic and stir, add the tomatoes and render a bit of their liquid and stir for 1-2 minutes until soft. Add the slices of peppers or chilies and saute a few minutes longer. Add some vinegar (we used apple cider vinegar), a little muscovado sugar, some water if required and season with salt and pepper. If you want to thicken the sauce add a touch of cornstarch. Cover the fried fish with the sauce and serve immediately with lots of rice… YUM!


We also purchased some brilliant looking slices of tanguigue and we fried those up as well until just cooked, still moist inside, not dry as cardboard as many are wont to do. We slathered that with the escabeche style sauce as well.


Garnish the dish with the chopped green onions. It never fails, this type of lunch is almost always totally wiped out in our household!


51 Responses

  1. i love that fish frying pan. sigh. i love escabeche and i miss how i can easily get fresh fish from my suki any time because here – it’s hard to find fresh fish. they’re either frozen solid or filleted.

  2. escabeche is an all time fave way of cooking fish, next to sinigang of course.

    great shot of the veggies MM! gandang gawin still life portrait/painting.

  3. I can’t even take it no more! The photos alone seem sooo yummy! I can’t resist liking your presentation! Big five for that!

  4. ayy, escabeche! it’s an all-time favorite in my family. i love your 3rd photo—slices of your ingredients, great composition! all these photos make me hungry!

  5. Wow escabeche! It also reminds me of my childhood back when I was still living with my parents. It’s the one dish that made me eat fish. I agree Marketman, sauce pa lang ulam na!

  6. I love escabeche but have never tried cooking it. Will do now that I have your recipe. Thanks, MM. 3rd photo reminds me of a scene in the first chapter of Girl With A Pearl Earring where Vermeer goes to the kitchen of the housemaid he and his wife are considering hiring and he sees the way she laid out the ingredients on a dish…

  7. I live in Florida. What do they call tanguigue here in the States? I bought some grouper fillet worth $15 ($10.99/lb)
    and cooked it escabeche. Yummy, yummy!

  8. Thel, the english name for tanguigue is spanish mackerel, but I am not sure if spanish mackerel from colder waters like the Atlantic are a good equivalent for our own tanguigue… cumin, I should re-read that chapter… for those who are going to cook this, TASTE, TASTE, TASTE as you go along, as the key is the balance of sweetness and sourness and the right formula differs by household preferences…

  9. this is my favorite fish is fish in tausi sauce.our helper will ask me native or spanish escabeche.coz our native escabeche is this kind while for spanish escabeche we put soy sauce.

  10. i really don’t fancy escabeche, but i remember enjoying my lola visit’s escabecheng danggit when i was a kid. just suka, toyo, and sugar for the sauce,seasoned with garlic onion and luya, unlike the others i’ve tasted na may pineapple juice and tomato sauce pa yata…

  11. Is that the fish pan from the Alain Ducasse auction? Glad it’s in use in Batangas, a long way off from Central Park South!

  12. the photo looks so good that my mouth is watering… but i have a question MM, escabeche, that’s not the same dish as the one with fried eggs right? I can’t recall what u call that dish, but almost the same cooking method, you fry the fish first, you put some garlic, onions, tomatoes, then you add eggs, so it has a bit of “sabaw”. What do you call that dish again?

    betty q. – a question for u.. i was reading MM’s post about “puto” and i read your comments, u mentioned that u had a posted a recipe for cutsinta, but for the life of me i couldn’t find it. would you be kind enough to maybe post it again somehow? last night i tried making cutsinta (for the second time) unfortunately, the centre was soft and watery, i got the recipe from the net, and followed the instructions, although it says to steam between 20-30 mins, i ended up steaming almost 1 hr coz the middle seemed uncooked. hope u can help me, thanks in advance!

  13. Escabeche reminds me of my lola..same way you do it…my bunso loves it that way…

    Love your fish pan..I have a fish steamer..but that is a great fry pan..hmmmm….my birthday is near,I should hunt for one…Dhayl..if my internet is ok tomorrow,I will post bettyq’s kutsinta…I’ve done so many and given away so many.I cooked some today and they loved it.i topped it with grated cheese..sweet and salty effect…so good….Thank you to bettyq for teaching me that…It’s in my MM notebook…

  14. cool! now try this one: instead of grouper or kingfish, use catfish (hito) but write down your name before devouring it.

  15. tamang-tama, ive been looking for a good escabeche recipe. now, if i can only find a good fresh lapu-lapu.

  16. I learn new today regarding this dish. It was always in mind escabeche and sweet and sour fish from Chinese resto is one and the same. Escabeche is Spanish in origin while the Chinese has their own version of it and I thought Limahong brought the dish to the island. I always eat escabeche with fried rice which I believe is Chinese in origin. Love your fish pan. It is an eye catcher!

  17. DhayL: Could it be SARSIADO you are thinking about? Last time I ate that was when I was a little girl! Yes, MM truly, your blog brings back childhood memeories!

    I was just going to say, DhayL, that Marisse is the best resource person for keeping track of ALL the recipes on MM’s blog! I would love to see her NOTEBOOK! In fact, I am making one myself…hubby gave me 3 blank notebooks the other night! But then I will be in big trouble if the computer crashes!

    Hey Marisse, I will keep my eye open for your FISH PAN! So far I have been so lucky in finding things. I have a collection of copper pots and pans most of them still looking like BRAND NEW and I bought them for practically nothing at GARAGE SALES and from friends who refer me to restaurants CLOSING DOWN!!!

  18. Oh, wow, MM! My mouth waters and my spine tingles at the sight of your amazing escabeche.

    And I must say your knife skills are excellent, from what I see on your third pic. I work in a kitchen with culinary arts grads. They are hacks compared to you. Flips rule!

  19. Any fish dish always catches my eye. I love escabeche. I always ask my mom to cook this when I go home to the province. But my wife isn’t a fan. Perhaps I can cook this to convert her.

  20. I second betty q.’s motion that the one with eggs scrambled in the tomato-based sauce is sarsiado/sarciado. I haven’t had escabeche in ages and MM’s pictures look so tempting. Sarap with steaming white rice!

  21. betty q – you’re right, it’s called sarsiado, coz i remember my lola cooking sarsiado whenever we have left over fried fish back home… hehehe

    about the cutsinta recipe, oh i thought it was your own personal recipe that you graciously posted here just like the other ones you previously did…oh im sorry then , hehehe. so i guess paging Marisse, do u have the cutsinta recipe?

  22. DhayL: it is my very own! You will not find it in any cookbook…my proportions anyway! Marisse is pretty quiet…maybe out of town or busy. It is just that she is very organized in indexing the recipes she wants to try and make…like the cuchinta! I have taken the guesswork for all the recipes I have shared. Most of them are imbedded in my memory bank. Here is the recipe so you can try it his week-end…

    As I have said before, it is BEST to use the PINOY lihia. I will never make the mistake again of using the Chinese lihia found in Asian stores. It just doesn’t measure up to the consistency and taste that I am after. …the Pinoy lihia gives it the right texture.

    Yield: about 4 to 5 dozens BABY cuchinta. I use the baby muffin tins …not the regular size ones.

    In abowl: mix together …
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup dark brown sugar
    1 1/2 cups all purpose floour
    PINCH of salt
    a little less than 1 tsp. atsuete powder (you can add a little bit more later if too pale)
    Blend the above ingredients together . Then add:
    3 cups water
    3 tsp. lye water …remember PINOY one…Now I don’t really fill the measuring tsp. right up to the brim

    Blend and strain to remove lumps. The color of this cuchinta is more brownish-orangey. Get yoour steamer going first. When there is already steam, pour the batter only half full…only a few pieces to seeif you have the right color. But I find that 1 tsp. atsuete is good enough.

    Once you have the moulds in the steamer, cover the top of the steaming rack with a CLEAN TOWEL…this way, the steam that goes up on the lid will not fall down on the cuchinta…Steam on medium high heat for maybe 15 to 20 minutes for the BABY ONES. Cool thoroughly before unmoulding. Serve with grated coconut.

    This cuchinta, DhayL, and the Puto Ube and the Tibok-tibok which I pour in baby muffin tins as well (teflon coated) is soooo nice on a platter for merienda and really good! You might want to bring extra for take home requests!

  23. search for hidden recipes in the comments section – this is another thrill of reading this food site…thanks to all who are so generous..will easily fill up notebooks or unused planners from years past

    never thought I’d see the infamous fish pan again..but then, MM said this is a different one

  24. this is just exactly what I am going to do with my salmon fillet tomorrow. I do not know how it will come out but the sauce should make it yummy.

  25. hello ms. bettyq. would it be too much if i also ask for your ube puto and tiboktibok recipe? we are going to have a potluck merienda cena and i’d like to bring your kakanin trinity :). thank you po…

  26. i agree with you marketfan. so what i do now, i have my marketmanila folder ready. when i see a recipe, i copy and paste so i have it in my file na. but just started doing that yesterday… so many entries to go pa…

  27. Chris…pleasego back to archives and check Michelle’s puto ube post and MM’s Puto Ube post too! Tibok-tibok is in Flavoured Suman (Oct 2008) post…somewhere in there.

    Let me know how it turns out. Are you form Batanggas? If you are, we have a really good bibingka there that my mom always buys from Aling Atay. Have you heard of it? I don’t know if sshe is still around. But my sister was able to clone it…tastes exactly like Aling Atay’s. But I tweaked it a bit.

  28. Chris…pleasego back to archives and check Michelle’s puto ube post and MM’s Puto Ube post too! Tibok-tibok is in Flavoured Suman (Oct 2008) post…somewhere in there.

    Let me know how it turns out. Are you form Batanggas? If you are, we have a really good bibingka there that my mom always buys from Aling Atay. Have you heard of it? I don’t know if sshe is still around. But my sister was able to clone it…tastes exactly like Aling Atay’s. But I tweaked it a bit. I don’t have a stone grinder for the galapong like Ted.

  29. hi betty! no, i am not from batangas though some relatives have migrated there in cuenca, lipa and san jose. i trace my roots in cebu and surigao.

    truth is, i am not really into kakanin (eating or making). but this blog taught me how to appreciate our very colorful and diverse delicacies. the puto, maja, nilupak and biko with latik are just a few of my favorites. by the way, here in laguna (where i am based since getting married), puto is the generic term for the kakanin be it rice, camote, or cassava-based.

  30. When I visited Agoncillo, Batangas for a mission trip, we stayed for 2 nights and had the chance to go to their public market. I spotted a newly brought bottled escabeche. I took the bottle on my next stop – Quezon Province, wherein they have fresh seafoods daily. One day a vendor sold me medium size fish (that looks like red snapper), and my group fried them whole as per my request; after which draining I added the bottle escabeche and placed them both back in the pan. Naku po, ang daming kain ng mga kasamahan ko, ubos yung malaking pot ng kanin. Hahha, some people even thought I cooked the escabeche from scratch..well I did not lie, but I also did not answer their question.. hindi na lang ako humirit.

    Chris, where are you in Laguna, I wanted to visit you on my trip there this coming May. I love kakanin too. I wanted know sources of diff. food that I can puchase along the way on my various mission trip, gusto ko yung daraanan namin gong to Quezon Province.

  31. hmmmm… jp sarabia… when you say spanish escabeche and put soysauce in it parang hindi spanish…. escabeche in the mediteranean countries are prepared w/o soy…

    escabeche that was introduced to us by spain were asianized w the intedration of soy sauce, sweetener (most probably sugar}, and ginger which were introduced to us naman by the chinese…

  32. ms betty q – oh god bless u, thank u so much and thank u for the tips as well.. now, if my memory serves me right, you’re in vancouver right? can i ask u what brand of “lihia” u use and where do u buy them? I’ll check the Filipino stores here in Toronto…and if I may add, your sugar proportion makes sense to me, coz if I used all brown sugar it becomes too sweet-diabetes ang abot mo, hehehe, the last time I made it my dad said “okay na” aside from the middle still a bit watery, but he said it’s just too sweet! Another question, if I’m using a bamboo steamer do I still need to put a towel in my cover? Naku, pasensya na po talaga coz I have a few questions, but I want u to know that I really appreciate you taking you’re time to accommodate me! thank u po!:)

  33. ebba i am based in calamba. it’s good to follow the path of viaje del sol, it’s a food and art trail that crosses laguna, batangas and quezon. you can email me at so we can communicate re your plans.

  34. dhayl, i remember someone saying or writing its okay not to cover with towel since the steamer lid is concave and all the steam dews drip to the rim of the lid. however, its better to feel safe than sorry. if it gives you a sense of security to put a towel, then go. i dont think the presence of the towel won’t make the result less satisfactory in terms of appearance than with what you have now.

  35. Are you talking about the conical steamers, Chris. If you are, you are totally right about the not covering it with a towel. But those conical steamers are hard to find here in North America. So what we have here are those that look like ordinary caldero….any steam that goes up to the lid, goes down again. In order to prevent those water droplets from falling on the puto or cuchinta, the towel does the job!

    Lihia…it says on the bottle…Orient brand. I bought this at the Pinoy store here. I haven’t used a bamboo steamer for my cuchinta. I am sure it will work…might not need the towel as Chris said since it is made out of bamboo. I would think the moisture will be ABSORBED by the wood. Different story though for the metal steamers looking like a caldero…moisture will not go anywhere. It will stay on the lid and fall down.

  36. chris/ betty q – thanks for the input! i’ve been sick the last few days so i wasn’t able to do another batch using betty q’s recipe, i should be able to one more sometime before sunday for my dad’s bday! thank u so much!

  37. its on my top 3 fave dishes… adobo, sinigang and escabeche. WOW! and looking at this post make me hungry, wah!



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