x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Escabeche

Recipes The popular summer dish escabeche prolongs the life of perishables.

Escabeche has long been a popular summer dish in Spanish-speaking countries. A clever way of prolonging the life of perishables as well as giving them an interesting, refreshing flavour, the dish involves marinating already fried fish (and sometimes meat) in a sharp, acidulated sauce which acts as a form of mild pickle, preserving the flesh so that it can be left un-refrigerated for a day or two without going off. The simple Sardinian version of the technique below works with quite a lot of different types of fish, as long as their flesh is fairly firm. I normally use grey mullet or bream, but snapper or mackerel are also good choices. Flaky white fish like cod or halibut, however, don't work as well as they tend to disintegrate.

2 large or four small firm-fleshed salt water fish, gutted, head and tail removed 2 tablespoons plain flour 300 ml passata (sieved tomatoes) 3 cloves of garlic 2 bay leaves 5 tablespoons olive oil 5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 2 heaped tablespoons flat-leaved parsley salt and pepper sunflower oil Coat the fish thoroughly in flour, then fry in sunflower oil over a medium to high heat until brown. Depending on the size of the fish, allow two to three minutes per side. Place them in an ovenproof dish and bake them for 10 minutes more in an oven preheated to 150° centigrade. Remove and leave out to cool. Peel and chop the garlic cloves into fine slivers. In a high-sided pan, heat the olive oil and fry the garlic until slightly brown. Add the passata, bay leaves and vinegar and bring to the boil. Leave the sauce to simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally, then pour over the fish while still hot. Leave the dish to cool, then refrigerate overnight. Before serving, chop the parsley finely and sprinkle on top. This dish works best as part of an Italian-style meal. Serve a pasta course beforehand (avoiding tomato sauces), follow it with a salad, and serve the fish on its own, with perhaps a hunk of bread to mop up the sauce. Serves four.

This recipe bears some resemblance to Filipino adobo chicken, except that here the chicken isn't boiled in the sauce. If you don't want to bother marinating the chicken, this extremely tangy dish also tastes good eaten right after it's cooked. The sauce also works well as an escabeche marinade for fish such as mahi mahi or tilapia. 4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on 8 spring onions 1 chunk ginger, 2 by 1cm ½ a red chilli 4 cloves garlic juice of 3 limes 4 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons sesame oil sunflower oil

Heat some sunflower oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken breasts on both sides until well browned. Remove them from the pan and make a slit up one side, then open the fillets out to make one large flat piece (this is easier when they are partially cooked). Return to the pan and brown the newly exposed raw side. If your fillets are especially thick, and you suspect they may not be cooked through, finish them off in a medium oven for 10 more minutes. Meanwhile, chop the spring onions into small rings (including at least half the green part) and mince the garlic, chilli and ginger to a fine paste. Heat the sesame oil in a pan and fry all these together for three to five minutes, until the garlic has some colour and the onion looks nicely wilted. Pour in the lime juice and soy sauce, and the teaspoonful of flour. Stir until the flour is fully dissolved and boil it down for another two minutes or so. Place the chicken in a small container and pour over the sauce. Once it is cool, refrigerate overnight, turning the chicken over several times to make sure it soaks in as much sauce as possible. A good picnic food, the chicken tastes great wrapped up in flat bread, garnished with a few fresh salad leaves. Serves four.