sardine escabeche

Sardine what now?

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe sent me straight to google to try to get a hint as to what the heck we were supposed to be making. Somehow escabeche has never crossed my plate before and, if I’m being completely honest, Dorie’s description and ensuing recipe was not getting my culinary juices flowing.


But let’s face it, this is hardly the first time I’ve gone into a Dorie recipe with a bit of skepticism, and from what I’ve seen on the ingredients list for next week’s tart, it will not be the last. Still, I didn’t hit my first real stumbling block until I hit the fish market, when my normally accommodating fish guy said that they would be happy to clean the little sardines for me, but that I would need to fillet them myself at home. For me the answer was clear and started to order shrimp instead. For my husband, however, the answer was also clear, the recipe is called “sardine escabeche” and so that is what we were going to make. He offered to do the filleting work and I was sold. But we bought a few extras just in case:-)

I can report that my husband did a great job, and that meant we got to snack on the extras as they came out of the frying pan. A pinch of salt and a spritz of lemon = delicious! There may or may not have even been some semi-serious discussions of stopping right there and enjoying dinner.


Instead, one day later we unwrapped our fish and had our first bite. My husband’s comment, “did we really just spend all of that effort to make our fresh sardines taste like they came out of a can?” pretty much sums it up. They were a little acidic and neither of us were loving them.


Not one to waste food, we braced ourselves for a second serving on day 2. And you know what? The flavor was completely different. The vinegar had mellowed and the fish were actually quite tasty. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner and might even be willing to expend the effort again.

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14 Responses to sardine escabeche

  1. Ei says:

    That’s funny that the fish had a flavor arch over the course of 3 days. Love that your husband was willing to put in the work to do it up right!

  2. OUrs sat in the fridge for 2 days and Neil quite enjoyed them. Me? I wouldn’t know… 😉

  3. I was kind of relieved that there were no fresh sardines in sight!s Glad you enjoyed 🙂

  4. Cakelaw says:

    Yes, this was a surprising dish – I liked it more than I expected.

  5. Kudos to your husband for jumping in and doing an excellent job on filleting the sardines! Glad in the end you both enjoyed them! For me, there were no sardines…I just can’t get past the smell! However, I did do a make up of the Cheez-it-ish crackers…loved them!

  6. trevorsisboom says:

    I love your husband’s comment! We ate these on day two as well but only because we unexpectedly got called away for dinner the night I planned for these. In the end I was grateful because I think that extra time was really needed. Great post!

  7. Mary Hirsch says:

    How interesting that you realize how much better the sardine escabeche tasted on the second evening. My first thought was, “Who would even go back and try again on the second night.” I also don’t like to waste food, as you know, but that was above and beyond the call of duty. So glad (and, rather surprised) you had a good result.

  8. If I found fresh sardines and went through filleting them and frying them up fresh… I would have stopped right there and ate them all. In a way it sounds like the fish should have been marinated raw, in essence you made two dishes? Glad both were enjoyed.

  9. Nana says:

    How wonderful that your husband had such an interest in the dish. And, yes, I think probably the longer it marinates, the better. I love your photos, and OMG, that bread…..

  10. betsy says:

    My fish guy cleaned, but didn’t fillet, my sardines either. I didn’t love the fish pickled (but did like the veggies that way), but now that you mention it, eating them pan-fried would be good. (Note that Howard loved these — no fruit!)

  11. Katie says:

    That’s really good to know that the sardines taste totally different the second day! I wasn’t able to find sardines here (oddly enough–the ONE week!) so I made it with shrimp. I’m willing to bet the sardines change a lot more than the shrimp over time. Oh, but the pan-fried sardines: now that sounds great!

  12. Diane Zwang says:

    Glad that your husband helped out as fish monger. I have never eaten a sardine and your first cooking makes me want to try them. I am not fond of cold fish and pickling taste doesn’t do it for me either. I am glad that it turned out well for you and you both liked it.

  13. Mary Hirsch says:

    Rose, I just read your comment to me. Oh, Missy would so agree with you that parents don’t listen. I am my daughter’s worst nightmare. However, remind your father of Aron Ralston, the young hot-shot hiker who told no one where he was going to hike. Didn’t turn out so well for him. Even if he just leaves a Post-it on his fridge, that would be good.

  14. Karen says:

    I had to do my own fillet-ing (what a nice husband you have!), but I only bought three sardines so it wasn’t too bad. I love the look of your sardines on that tasty-looking bread!

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