James Beard

Author and Educator

Escabèche is first cousin to the more widely popular “seviche” (also spelled “ceviche”) that came to the U.S. via Latin America and Mexico. Although it is likewise bathed in lemon or lime juice, it is further sautéed in a little olive oil.


  • 6 fish fillets
  • Salt as needed
  • 3/4 to 1 cup lime or lemon juice
  • Flour as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 to 2 green chilies, such as jalapeños, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


Lightly salt the fish fillets on both sides, and marinate in lime or lemon juice to barely cover the fillets for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Pour off the marinade and reserve, dry the fish well, and dust very, very lightly with flour, a little more salt, and some pepper.

Melt butter and oil in a skillet. Sauté the fish very quickly on both sides until heated through and delicately browned.

Remove to a serving dish. Sprinkle with green chilies, garlic, parsley, paprika, cumin, oregano, and onion. Add 1/2 cup olive oil and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the reserved juice, or to taste, and refrigerate, covered, for 24 hours or until the fish is imbued with the various flavors.

Remove the dish and garnish with shredded lettuce, sliced stuffed olives, and perhaps some little green onions, cut in long shreds. Serve with a good bread or hot rolls and a cucumber salad, or if you want a hot vegetable, fresh peas or corn on the cob, for a summer luncheon or supper. You can change the flavor by adding orange juice with the olive oil and lime juice and scattering a little bit of grated orange zest on top just before serving.


6 servings