From the Culinary Underground: Mariscos en Escabeche

[This is the latest in an ongoing guest series brought to you by Southborough’s Culinary Underground. In this installment, Chef Lori shares a recipe for spicy Mexican pickled fish.]

Pickles and fish, you say? Wipe that look off your face – pickled fish is wonderful anytime, but especially in the summertime because you can make it ahead and let it meld. The Italians do a version of this, but I like the spicy Mexican version offered here. You can use fish or shellfish, but you must fry the fish – or, at least, grill it. This is not ceviche, where citrus juice is used to “cook” the fish.

We like to take this to events – we’re doing it for the Natick Visiting Nurses Association annual Fresh Taste event [in June] – because it’s a great make-ahead dish and people like to try new fish preparation. And next time you’re invited to a barbecue, bring this along.

Mariscos en Escabeche

(6-8 servings)

2 pounds bay scallops, patted dry
12 cloves garlic mashed with 2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1-1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Cup olive oil
4 bay leaves
1 each large red and green bell peppers, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2-3 fresh hot chilies, sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced
2 Cups distilled white vinegar
1 pound extra-large cooked shrimp, peeled and diced
Fresh cilantro

Lightly rub the scallops with half the garlic, and season with salt and pepper on both sides; let sit for 20 minutes. Place flour in a shallow plate, and dredge the scallops lightly in flour to coat, shaking to remove excess.

Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add scallops to coat the bottom of the pan, and cook, tossing once or twice, until lightly browned on both sides and cooked through, about 1-2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer scallops to a serving bowl or platter; add the shrimp and set aside.

Add remaining garlic to oil, and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 1 minute. Add bay leaves, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and chilies. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar, and bring to a boil; cook for 2 minutes.

Pour over scallops and shrimp. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

Culinary Underground School for Home Cooks is committed to furthering the art and craft of home cooking through engaging and educational hands-on and demonstrations classes. Using the best seasonal ingredients, mastering techniques, minimizing prep, and maximizing flavor are the focus of their classes. For more information and a class schedule, visit

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