Preparation info

  • Serves


Appears in

Memories of Philippine Kitchens

Memories of Philippine Kitchens

By Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan

Published 2006

  • About

Today’s escabeche is a fried fish dish with a sweet and sour sauce that is more Chinese than Spanish. This recipe for fried mackerel in a sweet and sour sauce is adapted from Glenda Rosales-Barretto’s book Flavors of the Philippines, and is called Tanguigue Escabeche [Mackerel in Garlic-Turmeric Sauce]. If whole sea bass or snapper are unavailable, an equal weight of mackerel steaks can be substituted. Score both sides of the whole fish before dredging in flour and deep frying.



  • One 1-inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled and finely chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup canola oil, plus additional for frying
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and julienned
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored and julienned
  • One 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 1 cup fish stock or water
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar


  • One 4-pound whole sea bass or snapper, or four ½-pound tanguigue [mackerel] steaks
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • Sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed kalamansi lime juice or lemon juice


  1. Using a mortar and pestle, pulverize the turmeric, then add a few drops of water and press to extract the juice. Pour the juice through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer into another bowl.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.
  3. Add the onion, bell peppers, and ginger to the pan, and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the stock or water, turmeric juice, vinegar, and sugar. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Return the garlic to the pan, stir to combine, and keep the sauce warm.
  4. While the sauce simmers, prepare the fish: Mound flour in a large, shallow bowl. Season the fish with salt and pepper, and sprinkle the fish with the kalamansi juice. Dredge the fish in the flour, turning to coat evenly, then transfer the fish to a plate.
  5. Fill a large sauté pan with enough oil to come halfway up the sides of the fish. Place the pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, but not smoking, add the fish and fry until crisp on the outside and cooked through (about 10 minutes per inch of thickness).
  6. Transfer the fish to a serving plate, pour the sauce over, and serve.