If there’s one make-ahead healthy fish recipe that gets your attention this year, let it be salmon escabeche. This Spanish preparation of salmon gets seared on a stove top, then marinated in olive oil and red wine vinegar. It’s topped with shallots, a serrano pepper, olives, and sun dried tomatoes.
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What is escabeche?
Escabeche is essentially the Spanish version of pickling foods. A protein — in this case salmon — is quickly seared on both sides, then topped with a mixture of olive oil and vinegar. The marinade will cure the salmon, allowing it to continue cooking while it sits. So yes, the inside may look under cooked, but actually it’s perfect.
For the salmon:
- 1 ½ lb skin-on salmon
- all-purpose flour
- kosher salt
- lemon zest
- garlic powder
For the marinade:
- extra virgin olive oil
- red wine vinegar (or other vinegar)
- serrano chile
- California Sun Dry tomatoes
- black olives
- fresh dill or other herbs
- toasted bread
How to make fish escabeche
The first thing I’ll note is that, yes, of course you can make this with other fish! Common iterations include red snapper, sole, black cod, or even shrimp!
Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl, then coat the salmon in an even layer. This should sit in a refrigerator for about 2 hours.
Next. shake off any excess flour, then pan fry salmon in a little olive oil over high heat. Sear the flesh side first (for 4 minutes), carefully flip, then continue cooking for 2-3 minutes longer until skin is crispy. Slide the salmon out onto a rimmed tray or into a bowl with deep sides.
At this point, all you need to do is pour the marinade on top and let the salmon cure for a few hours.
How long to marinate
I like the salmon escabeche to cure for a minimum of 2 hours, but longer is better. The flavor will intensify as it sits, so if you can leave the fish overnight in the marinade, it’ll be more concentrated (and delicious!) the next day!
Right before serving, top the salmon escabeche with sliced black olives, chopped sun dried tomatoes, and fresh herbs. Dill is my favorite, but oregano or cilantro would taste great too!
I’ve made salmon recipes with olives and sun dried tomatoes for years, so this was a natural pairing. The bright sweetness of the tomatoes plays off the tanginess of the marinade. And, well, olives add that brininess that I am just crazy about! It all just works.
If you or your guests like things hot, definitely feel free to substitute a spicier chile pepper, or simply use multiple! I love the gentle heat that using a serrano pepper adds.
If you want a more mild flavor, leave the pepper out entirely.
Is escabeche gluten free?
This version is not gluten free, as the salmon is coated in all-purpose flour before searing. However, you could leave the flour off or use a gluten-free flour to coat. The rest of this quick and simple recipe has no gluten! Just serve it as is instead of on bread.
What to serve with fish escabeche
Honestly, my favorite way to serve this is smashed over a crusty piece of toasted bread. You could add a little mayonnaise or aioli to help cut the acidity, but it doesn’t need it.
A big green salad would make a wonderful side dish!
If you make Salmon Escabeche, please let me know by leaving a review below!
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If you’re looking for other seafood entrées, check out these favorites of mine:
Weeknight slow-baked salmon
Simple Thai curry with scallops and string beans
Grilled lobster tails and clams
Spicy tagliatelle with crab, lemon, and capers
Crispy pan-seared salmon with lemon parmesan cream sauce
For the fish:
- 1 ½ lbs salmon skin-on
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 lemon zested
- ½ tsp granulated garlic
- ½ tsp sumac
For the marinade:
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar or other vinegar
- 1 large shallot thinly sliced
- 1 small serrano chile
- ⅓ cup black or kalamata olives sliced
- ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes chopped
- Fresh dill for garnish
- Bread toasted
- In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, lemon zest, garlic, and sumac, then whisk to combine.
- Pat salmon dry on both sides, then place on a plate or tray. Pour dry ingredients on top, pressing gently onto the salmon, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, make the marinade. Combine olive oil, vinegar, shallots, and serrano in a medium bowl. Whisk, then set aside.
- When ready, preheat a large skillet over high heat. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil. Shake any excess flour off of fish, then sear flesh side down for 4 minutes, undisturbed. Carefully flip the fish using a fish spatula, then sear skin side down for an additional 3 minutes. Transfer salmon to a bowl or dish with deep sides, then immediately pour the marinade on top. If eating that day, leave fish on counter to cure for at least 2 hours. If serving the next day, cover fish and place in refrigerator overnight. Salmon is best when served at room temperature, so make sure to bring it out 1-2 hours before serving.
- To serve, pour sliced olives and sun dried tomatoes on top, then garnish with fresh dill. Can be eaten as is or smushed on top of sliced, toasted bread.