Escabeche is the name for a number of dishes in Mediterranean and Latin American cuisines which can refer to a dish of fish or meat (escabeche of chicken, rabbit or pork is common in Spain) marinated and cooked in an acidic mixture (vinegar) and sometimes colored with pimenton (Spanish paprika) or saffron. In Central or South America the recipes differ from country to country, sometimes including the prior frying of the ingredient to later marinate. It is a common conservation technique, requiring a pH of 4 or lower to effectively stop putrefaction of the product.
The dish is common in Spain and has evolved with local modifications in the Spanish-speaking world. It is well represented in Portugal and France. The dish is popular in the Philippines and Guam (both former Spanish colonies) where it is the closest to the original Spanish version: adapting the type of fish to ones locally available but respecting the original technique.
In international versions, escabeche is usually poached or fried, then served cold after marinating in a refrigerator overnight or longer. The acid in the marinade is usually vinegar but can include citrus juice. Different types of vinegar may be recommended such as white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Escabeche is a popular presentation of canned or potted preserved fish, such as mackerel, tuna, bonito or sardines. In the New World, versions of the basic marinade are often used with foods other than fish and meats, for example cassava or green bananas with chicken gizzards (Puerto Rico), jalapeño peppers (Mexico), etc. The origin of the word escabeche is Persian; it was brought to Spain by the Arabs during the Umayyad conquest of Hispania. The word derives from al-sikbaj, the name of a popular meat dish cooked in a sweet-and-sour sauce, usually vinegar and honey or date molasses. The dish originated in Mediterranean countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Spain, but the practice of this style of preparation has spread as far east as the Philippines and all throughout the western nations of Latin America. It is believed that Spain and Portugal were introduced to the al-sikbaj dish during the Moorish conquests between 790 and 1300 AD.
The dish is known as escoveitch or escoveech fish in Jamaica and is marinated in a sauce of vinegar, onions, carrots and scotch bonnet peppers overnight. It is a traditional breakfast dish. It is known as escabecio, scapece or savoro in Italy, savoro in Greece (especially Ionian islands) and scabetche in North Africa.