Pescao en Escabeche (Maricel E. Presilla's Fish with Escabeche Sauce)

Maricel E. Presilla's Fish with Escabeche Sauce (Pescao en Escabeche)

Fish with Escabeche Sauce (Pescao en Escabeche)

This Cuban escabeche is simply seasoned with garlic, sliced yellow onion and bell pepper, and some bay leaf.Penny De los Santos

The cooks of Islamic Spain, or Al-Andalus, like the Romans before them, had a penchant for using vinegar-and-olive oil pickling sauces, or escabeches, to flavor and preserve everything from fish to vegetables. The technique survived the demise of Al-Andalus in Spain, as well as in many former Spanish colonies. In my native Cuba, escabeche was synonymous with sierra (sawfish), much appreciated for its firm, white flesh. You could go to any cafeteria or restaurant and always find on the countertop a large earthenware cazuela filled with fried sawfish steaks topped with an olive oil-and-vinegar pickling sauce. Cuban escabeches often resemble contemporary Iberian models, simply seasoned with garlic, sliced yellow onion and bell pepper, and some bay leaf. Because escabeches start with a sofrito, the iconic Spanish and Latin American flavor base subject to infinite permutations, it is not surprising to see that escabeches, too, vary tremendously across Latin America. But vinegar and olive oil remain the backbone of this singular, ocean-spanning technique. —Maricel E. Presilla, author of_ Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America _(W.W. Norton & Company, 2012)