Jalapeno escabeche! Pickled jalapenos, cauliflower, carrots, & onions in escabeche may be a more accurate description. That’s the escabeche my family knows and loves. The more commonly known Escabeche is a typical Mediterranean dish of either fish, chicken or rabbit marinated in an acidic mixture. The acid in the marinade is usually vinegar. For jalapeno escabeche, vinegar is typical as well. However, this recipe is naturally fermented, so there is NO acidic ingredient. Rather, the mildly sour flavor comes from the good bacteria that develop as the natural sugars in the vegetables ferment and are converted into various strains of probiotics. Each time you enjoy the tangy quailty of these pickled treats, your gut gets a boost of beneficial microflora! My family eats this condiment by itself and alongside many dishes. Tonight, we are eating it with burgers.
One of my sons regularly asks for escabeche in his school lunch. Fortunately, some of his classmates eat cultured foods so he doesn’t worry about offending them with the unique aroma of fermented cauliflower (a cruciferae). My older son loves this medley as well, but hasn’t yet agreed to let me pack it in his school lunch, for fear of offending his friends. For the time being, he is content to enjoy them in the privacy of his own home. I look forward to the day when he too is comfortable bringing fermented foods to school.
In our temperate zone, the ingredients for this recipe are available year round, making this a good “go to” vegetable during any season. Keep in mind, the fermentation process is much quicker during the warm summer months, so a more watchful eye is recommended. All the ingredients are readily available and they store well. Ingredients:
1 cauliflower head, sliced in 1/2 inch pieces
1 white onion (red or yellow), peeled & sliced in narrow strips
4 carrots, diagonally sliced
4-6 whole fresh jalapeno chiles (depending on how spicy you choose)
2 cups cool water (more or less)
4 Tablespoons of Celtic sea salt
I choose to use Celtic Sea Salt. It is unprocessed, and full of the minerals and trace elements so many of us are lacking in our diets. The salt draws out vegetable liquid(s) and acts as a temporary preservative while the fermentation process gets started.
Slice carrots diagonally 1/4-1/2″ thick (thicker=crunchier/thinner=softer)
Slice cauliflower into bite size florets
Slice onion (narrow slices)
Slice jalapeños diagonally (thicker=crunchier/thinner=softer).
Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix it together with your hands.
Fill glass mason jar with spring water, and add salt. Mix salt with metal spoon until dissolved. Water solution will appear cloudy. Begin to fill jar with vegetable mixture (When using bare hands, remember jalapenos can leave a lasting sting. Gloves may be used). Compress vegetables with hand or metal kitchen utensil, minimizing empty spaces between and among vegetables. Continue this process until mason jar is filled to approximately 1″ from the top of jar. Be sure salty solution (brine) covers all vegetables. It is should be an anaerobic reaction. I always “top off” the escabeche with a small handful of onions* (read note below). Secure the lid and place in a dark temperature controlled space. Optimum temperature for fermenting is between 68 – 75° F.*Raw onions are antimicrobial in nature, so I have made a habit of placing a handful of them on the top of my escabeche to prohibit bad bacteria from developing. In the winter time, my very small laundry closet remains a constant 70° F so it doubles as my ‘fermenting closet’. In the summertime, my kitchen counter is just fine, but I do always cover the jars to create a dark environment for the cultures. After a few days (4-7 depending on temp), check your ingredients to see if they are ready to move to refrigeration. Look for cloudy liquid, bubbles, jalapenos becoming a muted green color, and soft translucent onions to determine if fermentation is occurring. Once you are happy with the flavor (taste it at any point), and feel adequate fermentation has occurred. Move your savory condiment to the refrigerator for storage, and enjoy it every day as long as it lasts! You can store your escabeche for up to 9 months.
Let me know how yours turns out, and what food you garnish with jalapeno escabeche.