What is escabeche? It refers to an ancient style of cooking meat that ends with a long soaking in vinegar or citrus juice before the dish is served cold. It can also be used with vegetables.
With the advent of industrialized foods, many traditional methods of food preservation were lost, pickling among them. Because lacto-fermentation can sometimes yield unpredictable results (salt, temperature and time all play a part), traditional salt brines were replaced with vinegar, and as a result many of our favorite foods lost their probiotic edge. When vegetables are traditionally fermented in a salt water brine, the naturally occurring sugars and starches are converted into lactic acid by beneficial bacterial called lactobacilli. These microorganisms lower the presence of toxins, inflammation and harmful bacteria in your digestive tract, improving overall digestion, immunity and absorption of essential nutrients.
This recipe is a preview from the upcoming book, The Unbearable Lightness of Beans, by Annette Sandoval and Melanie Rogers. More than a cookbook, The Unbearable Lightness of Beans addresses health and well-being from the vantage of a Mexican country kitchen.
- 3 tablespoons sea salt, or kosher salt (do not use iodized salt)
- 1 quart filtered water
- 1 cup diced jicama
- 2 cups sliced carrots
- ¾ cup sliced white onion
- ½ cup halved jalapeños (remove some or all seeds depending on how hot you like it)
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
- Combine salt and water and stir until salt dissolves.
- Place remaining ingredients in a clean, half gallon-sized large mason jar (or evenly divide mixture among two quart jars). Pour salt water over vegetables, leaving one inch of headspace. If necessary, add more water to cover vegetables. To ensure vegetables remain completely covered with brine, fill a zip lock bag with brine (3 tablespoons salt for each quart of water) to use as a weight to keep vegetables submerged. (This way, if the bag breaks or leaks, your ferment will only be introduced to more brine.)
- Tie a clean dish towel over top of the jar (and bag), and allow it to stand at room temperature. As your vegetables ferment, the baggie will keep the mixture submerged, and the dishtowel will keep debris out, while allowing gas to escape. Beginning on day three, open the jar daily to taste the escabeche. If scum or mold has formed on the top, skim it off.
- The escabeche will continue to develop tanginess as it ferments. When fermented to your liking, remove the bag of brine, screw a lid onto the jar, and transfer to refrigerator to slow the fermentation process. While the escabeche will slowly continue to ferment, the mix will stay good in your refrigerator for at least a month.
Live Naturally is excited to share recipes from students and graduates of Bauman College, like Melanie Rogers. Bauman is committed to spreading wellness through the healing power of fresh, whole food. Their holistic nutrition and culinary arts programs equip students with the tools necessary to support people – locally and globally – in achieving optimal health. For more info, visit baumancollege.org.