Home made Escabeche. Jalapeños, carrots, onions, and cauliflower pickled in a delicious herby brine. I always have some in my fridge. It’s a side dish, a condiment and a seasoning, all in one container. I like to eat it as a side with my scrambled eggs in the morning. I like it diced in some tuna on tostadas. I like to lay a slice or two of jalapeño in my tacos in lieu of salsa. I put it on sandwiches, burgers and tortilla chips. I use the brine to season meats. It adds a bright flavor that gains complexity when cooked. Chop up some chiles and add them a little of the brine to a cheese sauce and you’ve got nacho cheese. I even like to put a few pieces of onion and carrot along with a garlic clove in oil to perfume it before making refried beans and other savory fried goodies like Milanesa. Believe. These spicy bits of awesome are not just for topping nachos.
Note: This recipe may be prepared without carrots or cauliflower. Straight up Chiles en Vinagre. You can either add another 6 sliced chiles (also feel free to slice them into 1/2 inch rounds) or reduce the other ingredients by half.
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
6 large jalapeño peppers, sliced into 1/2 inch strips. For a milder escabeche, seed and devein your chiles. (If, like me, you go through the chiles faster than the rest of the veg, slice and seed a few more.)
1/2 of an onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 whole garlic cloves
1 cup of fresh cauliflower, cut into bite size florets
1/2 tablespoon Mexican oregano
1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns (ground works fine, I just like the look of whole peppercorns floating around in the jar.)
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar (you can use apple cider vinegar if preferred)
1 1/2 cups water
- In a pot over medium low heat, cook the carrots in the olive oil about 10 minutes, stirring often until they start to soften.
- In a separate pot over medium high heat, bring about a half inch of water to a low boil. Add the cauliflower, cover and shut the heat off. Allow it to steam while you prepare the rest of the recipe. The cauliflower goes in last because it tends to absorb the brine very quickly and can get a little too vinegary.
- Add the chiles, onions and garlic to the pot with the carrots and cook 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the herbs and peppercorns, cook 5 minutes to release flavors.
- Add the salt, sugar, vinegar and water.
- Cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the cauliflower and cook 5-10 minutes more or until the vegetables are tender to your liking.
Cool. Serve. Eat.
This stuff gets better with age. It’s delicious as soon as it’s cooled but I highly recommend putting your Escabeche in a glass jar or container (vinegar+plastic=weird flavors. No bueno) and stashing it in the fridge for at least 24 hours before eating it.
If you like this recipe, don’t be afraid to get experimental with your veg! Try adding some blanched nopales (prickly pear cactus), baby corn, broccoli, radish slices or maybe some fresh green beans to the mix!
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