Chile en Escabeche

A huge shout out to my friend Louie, who recently gifted me some fantastic Guatamalan-style Black Beans with this lovely Chile en Escabeche.  I was sure to take its photo before I shook him down for the recipe.  Thanks Louie!  Take it away…

This condiment, loosely translated from Spanish as “chiles marinated in vinegar”, is common on tables in homes and restaurants throughout Central America, and available often in Latino restaurants here in the United States. There are many versions of this condiment, and this is a basic one that I learned from my Guatemalan ex-mother-in-law, Doña Ileana, who is a marvelous cook. (I might share some other versions of this condiment if Trish twists my arm, wink wink.) It is often used in place of hot sauce, and can be enjoyed with just about anything. I particularly like topping it on black beans, eggs done anyway you want, tacos of all stripes, burritos, etc. Many times it’s made with larger pieces of chiles and vegetables. I prefer bite sized pieces that fit onto my fork or spoon, and I like the colors and the uniformity of size of the pieces as well as the zippy spice. This is my version of this basic condiment. You can make it in a milder form, and the spice/heat can be easily adjusted. I’ll show you how to do so. Enjoy!  ¡Buen provecho! 

Chile en Eschabeche

*You can adjust the spicy heat of this condiment by removing and discarding some or all of the seeds from the chiles, depending on your preference. I prefer it spicy myself. I find it easier to place all of the ingredients on a single plate or in a prep bowl, and then add them all at the same time to the skillet.

6-8 Jalapeño chiles
8 Serrano chiles
10 red Fresno chiles (Seeds should always be removed)
2-3 carrots
1 large white onion
6 cloves garlic
2 Bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
10 small pinches of coarse sea salt
White, distilled vinegar 

  1. Cut 2 Serrano chiles lengthwise into quarters, leaving the stem/peppers intact. 
  2. Cut the remaining Serrano/Jalapeño/Fresno chiles into roughly 1 inch plus sized pieces.
  3. Large dice the white onion into roughly 1 inch x 1 inch pieces.
  4. Peel the carrots and cut into 1/4 inch, diagonal slices.
  5. Peal the garlic cloves and leave them whole.
  6. Warm 2-3 TBSP of olive oil over medium heat in a large, deep skillet. Add the above ingredients along with the Bay leaves, coarse sea salt and dried Oregano and sauté together, stirring occasionally until the onions turn translucent (4-6 minutes). The goal is to have the ingredients be al dente in the finished dish.
  7. Add white, distilled vinegar until the ingredients are barely covered, and just bring it to a solid simmer. Immediately cover with a lid and turn off the heat, and let it all steep for 10 minutes. 
  8. Uncover and let cool. Place it all in a sealed container and let it marinate for at least 3-4 days before using. (This allows the marinating process to fully penetrate all of the ingredients.)

Eat Well!

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