Alibi V.18 No.23 • June 4-10, 2009 


Curious Orange

Though the term "escabeche"; formally refers to pickled fish in Spanish cooking, to us Americans, it's the stuff of plastic bags. In L.A., a taco truck is generally considered remiss if they don't hand out big, glowing orbs of free escabeche—spicy carrot, pickled jalapeños and sweetly spiced white onion mingling in their combined brine, precariously pressing a baggie to its limits.

Well, while cooking up a roasted mushroom taco the other day, we wondered about making a sauce based on escabeche to save us the trouble of running down to the store or nearest wheeled taqueria. By roasting the carrots, peppers and onions, blending them with vinegar and spiking it with a little clove, we got something similar to the pickles but in a squeezable form.

We used it on the tacos, fried potato taquitos, even a lemon-yogurt coleslaw. But one week later, we still had half a squirt bottle of this briny brew (it gets tarter over time). So, we boiled up a cup of wild rice and a cup of quinoa and made a sweet corn and rice salad; guess what the dressing was ...

Escabeche Puree

Makes about 3 cups


2 pounds carrots, peeled, tops removed
3 jalapeños, tops removed, halved
1 white onion, cut into half-moon slivers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground clove
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons water
Fresh black pepper to taste

1) Preheat oven to 375 F.

2) Throw the carrots, jalapeños and onion into a shallow roasting pan and toss with olive oil. Season lightly with kosher salt and half the clove (save the rest for later). Cover pan with aluminum foil to prevent scorching.

3) Stick the pan of veggies in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Once carrots are fully cooked but still orange, remove pan and cool.

4) In a food processor, pulse the roasted goods while slowly adding the grapeseed oil, then the apple cider vinegar, the lime juice and finally the water. Consistency should be that of a thicker puree. If it's too thick to properly blend, add an additional teaspoon each of oil, vinegar and water. Add the rest of the ground clove and salt and pepper to taste.