Brazilian Fried Fish with Onions, Tomatoes, and Vinegar (Escabeche de Peixe)

Before refrigeration, escabeche was used as a method of pickling fish to preserve it in Brazil. The combination of fried fish in a vinegar-based onion and tomato sauce is so good, however, that the dish lives on.

Serves: 6Hands-on: 25 minutesTotal: 1 hour 10 minutesDifficulty: Easy

Serves: 6


  • Juice of 2 medium limes
  • 2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1½ lbs. firm white fish fillets
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced into thin rings
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾ cup red wine vinegar
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley


  • Combine lime juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a shallow dish. Add fish and marinate, covered, for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5–8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic, bay leaf, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
  • Heat 1" vegetable oil in a deep skillet to 350°F.
  • In a shallow bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour, cornmeal, and remaining salt and pepper. Place remaining flour in another shallow bowl. Whisk eggs lightly in a third shallow bowl.
  • Dredge the fish fillets in the plain flour. Dip each fillet in the beaten egg (allow excess to drip off) and then in the cornmeal mixture. Fry the fish in the oil, in batches if necessary, until crispy and cooked through (about 2–3 minutes per side). Drain on paper towels.
  • Layer the fish with the tomatoes and onions in a serving dish, and sprinkle scallions and parsley on top. Serve warm.