Escabeche Lapu Lapu with crisply-fried grouper, pickled bell peppers, and papaya in a sweet and tangy sauce. This Filipino sweet and sour fish is easy to make for family dinners yet fancy enough for special occasions.
I was going to update these old escabeche lapu lapu photos for our 24 Days to Christmas special series, but I couldn’t find a big enough fish at the Asian supermarkets I frequent. Of course, any type or size of firm-fleshed fish such as tilapia, red snapper (Maya Maya), talikitok, apahap or tanique is fine to use in this recipe, but I just think a hefty grouper is more party-worthy and would look more impressive on a holiday table.
Anyway, I am not going to sweat about how badly these pictures need reshooting. After all, it’s all about the taste and this Filipino-style sweet and sour fish is amah-zing! With crisply-fried whole fish smothered in colorful bell peppers, shredded papaya, and a perfectly sweet and tangy sauce, it is sure to be a crowd favorite.
What is in Escabeche?
Escabeche refers to a type of dish popular in Latin and Mediterranean cuisine wherein meat or fish are marinated and cooked in an acidic mixture such as vinegar or citrus juices. Assorted vegetables such as peppers, onions, and carrots are also commonly added for color and texture.
Filipino escabeche is a local adaptation of this Spanish dish consisting of either poached or fried fish which is smothered in a sweet and sour sauce made of vinegar and sugar with ketchup added for color and cornstarch for thickening. and garnished with tender-crisp vegetables such as bell peppers and shredded papaya.
Although other variants of escabeche can be served cold, this Filipino version is best enjoyed hot and fresh from the stove or at the very least at room temperature as the sauce tends to congeal.