From Persia with love – Lawrence Murphy

Lawrence Murphy's recipe for mackerel escabeche
Lawrence Murphy's recipe for mackerel escabeche
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It’s fascinating to find out the history of favourite recipes.

I assumed escabeche had its origins in Spain and fish, but it actually evolved from Persia and was cooked with rabbit or pork.

The literal translation is ‘to cook with acid or vinegar’.

As time moved on local ingredients were used – fish replaced meat, and acidity was replaced with oranges and wine.

This recipe uses mackerel which is grilled, making the skin crispy, and added to the broth, unlike the traditional method of poaching the fish in the escabeche.


4 large mackerel fillets

4 shallots sliced on the round

2 carrots sliced

1 stick celery chopped

1 bulb fennel sliced

4 cloves garlic sliced

1 small leek chopped

4 oranges

150ml dry white wine

Pinch saffron

Bay leaf

Bunch thyme tied with string

Sea salt


1. Put a splash of olive oil into a large saucepan and put on a medium/low heat.

2. Add the carrots and cook for 2 minutes

3. Add the shallots, garlic, celery and fennel and cook for another 2 minutes

4 zest 3 of the oranges into the pan and add the white wine and saffron

5 put the bay leaf and thyme into the pot and reduce the wine by half

6. Add the juice of all four oranges and a pinch of sea salt.

7 Simmer for 6 minutes and turn off the heat.

8 Grill the mackerel under a hot grill leaving it a little pink

9 Ladle the broth into four bowls and top with the mackerel​​​​​​​