There are two standards of quality for me when it comes to a good Mexican restaurant.
First, refried beans. Beans must be offered and they must be refried. Not black beans, not some low-cholesterol offering, but real refried beans, preferably cooked in lard and topped with queso fresco must be served. You got bad beans? I won’t be returning.
Second, escabeche. If I go to a taco stand or Mexican restaurant and they have a little bowl of escabeche on the table or included with their salsa selection I’m a happy girl. I know I’m in.
I’d rather frequent a sketchy Mexican restaurant with good beans and escabeche than a beautiful one that markets their black bean wraps with avocado puree and fishbowls of margaritas, thank you very much.
Which leads me to this recipe! Escabeche, or jalapenos en Escabeche are basically a Mexican pickled jalapeno. Far better than those little Nacho rings you buy in the store, escabeche is flavored with onions and garlic, frequently carrots, sometimes radishes or cauliflower, and is a pickled treat that I love to snack on.
This year I grew jalapenos in my garden, and found that I had too many to merely eat (especially since I cook for a toddler, and am nursing an infant. Not too much overtly spicy stuff happening around here) so went looking for a solution. I found several pickled jalapeno and jalapeno ring recipes online, but as I don’t have access to a canner this year (and only had enough jalapenos to make a small batch) I didn’t want to go through the trouble of canning them. As I enjoyed lacto-fermenting salsas last summer, I thought I’d try my hand with the same technique for escabeche, and I am in love!!
I love snacking on the carrots that have been soaking in the spicy brine, while my husband prefers the peppers. I made this batch with a mix of majority jalapenos with a few sweeter peppers thrown in that were in my fridge. Make sure that you use fresh, firm peppers when you make this. Enjoy on the side of a Mexican dinner, or straight from the jar.
makes about 4 pints
- 4 cups of sliced hot and sweet peppers (for me, this was about two large sweet red peppers – the long skinny kind, not bell, 12 jalapenos and one banana pepper)
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal into 1/4″ ovals
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 of a medium sized onion, sliced into half rounds and separated
- 1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
- 1 Tablespoon sea salt
- 4 Tablespoons fresh whey
Special Equipment: Plastic Gloves, Clean jars and clean jar lids
First, put on your gloves. Seriously, put them on. I bought a box of 50 gloves at the pharmacy in my local grocery store for about $5.00. If you don’t want your hands burning for the next three days and/or have to do things with your fingers that you don’t want jalapeno juice soaked into them (such as changing your contacts, being a baby’s chew toy, etc.) put on some gloves.
There, you can’t say I didn’t warn you.
Second, with your gloves on, slice up your peppers and place them in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients except for water and mix with your hands. Allow to set for a few minutes.
Into your clean jars (still wearing your gloves!!) start bottling your vegetables. Push down gently, but firmly on the vegetables to push in a little bit more until they just reach the lower lip of the jar, about 1/2″ from the top. Continue until you have all of your vegetables in jars (don’t worry if the last jar isn’t quite full), making sure you have a fairly even mix of peppers, carrots and the peppercorns are evenly distributed. Press down on the vegetables in all the jars once more.
Now, to each jar, add a little water (filtered is best, but I just used the stuff out of the tap) to fill the space in between the peppers and to just cover them. Make sure that the veggies are submerged. Cap and keep on your counter for about two days before transferring to cold storage. Allow the flavors to mingle for about a week before tasting. The flavor will be of a traditional cooked jalapeno en escabeche, but much fresher and crisper.
Enjoy within a year!
This post is written in conjunction with Fight Back Friday! and Summer Fest 2010!