When it comes to traditional Spanish cuisine, one dish that stands out is “bonito en escabeche.” This mouthwatering recipe combines the delicate flavors of bonito fish with a tangy and aromatic marinade. In this article, we will explore the origins of bonito en escabeche, its ingredients, the cooking process, and some tips to make it even more delicious. So, let’s dive into the world of bonito en escabeche!

The Origins of Bonito en Escabeche

Bonito en escabeche is a traditional Spanish dish that has its roots in the Mediterranean region. The word “escabeche” comes from the Arabic word “sikbaj,” which means “acidic sauce.” This cooking technique was introduced to Spain during the Moorish occupation and has since become an integral part of Spanish cuisine.

The dish was originally created as a preservation method for fish, allowing it to be stored for longer periods without spoiling. The acidic marinade not only adds flavor but also acts as a natural preservative. Over time, bonito en escabeche has evolved into a beloved delicacy, enjoyed both as an appetizer and a main course.

The Ingredients

To prepare bonito en escabeche, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of fresh bonito fish fillets
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 1 cup of white wine vinegar
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

These ingredients can be easily found in most grocery stores or fish markets. Fresh bonito fish is preferred for its delicate flavor and firm texture, but you can also use other types of white fish as a substitute.

The Cooking Process

Now that we have gathered all the necessary ingredients, let’s dive into the cooking process:

  1. Start by cleaning the bonito fish fillets and removing any bones or skin. Cut them into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and minced garlic, and sauté until they become translucent and fragrant.
  3. Add the bay leaf, sweet paprika, and ground cumin to the skillet. Stir well to combine the flavors.
  4. Slowly pour in the white wine vinegar, stirring continuously. Allow the mixture to simmer for a few minutes to reduce the acidity of the vinegar.
  5. Season the marinade with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add the bonito fish fillets to the skillet, making sure they are fully submerged in the marinade. If needed, add more olive oil to cover the fish.
  7. Cover the skillet and let the fish marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. This will allow the flavors to meld together and infuse the fish.
  8. After marinating, the bonito en escabeche is ready to be served. You can enjoy it cold as an appetizer or serve it with a side of rice or crusty bread as a main course.

Remember, the longer you marinate the fish, the more flavorful it will become. So, if you have the time, consider marinating it for 48 hours for an even tastier result.

Tips to Enhance the Flavor

While the basic recipe for bonito en escabeche is already delicious, here are some tips to take it to the next level:

  • Use high-quality olive oil: Since olive oil is a key ingredient in the marinade, using a good quality extra virgin olive oil will enhance the overall flavor of the dish.
  • Experiment with spices: Feel free to add your favorite spices or herbs to the marinade to customize the flavor. Some popular additions include thyme, oregano, or even a pinch of saffron.
  • Try different vinegars: While white wine vinegar is the traditional choice, you can experiment with other types of vinegar, such as apple cider vinegar or sherry vinegar, to add a unique twist to the dish.
  • Serve with pickled vegetables: Bonito en escabeche pairs perfectly with pickled vegetables like carrots, onions, or peppers. The tanginess of the vegetables complements the flavors of the fish.


1. Can I use canned bonito fish for this recipe?

Yes, you can use canned bonito fish as a convenient alternative. However, keep in mind that the texture and flavor may differ slightly from fresh bonito fish.

2. How long can I store bonito en escabeche?

When stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, bonito en escabeche can last for up to one week. However, it is best enjoyed within the first few days to savor its fresh flavors.

3. Can I freeze bonito en escabeche?

While it is possible to freeze bonito en escabeche, the texture of the fish may change slightly upon thawing. It is recommended to consume it fresh for the best taste and texture.

4. Can I use other types of fish for this recipe?

Absolutely! While bonito fish is traditionally used, you can substitute it with other white fish varieties like mackerel, tuna, or even cod.

5. Is bonito en escabeche a healthy dish?

Bonito en escabeche is a nutritious dish that provides a good source of protein and healthy fats from the fish and olive oil. However, keep in mind that the marinade contains oil and vinegar, so it should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.


Bonito en escabeche is a delightful Spanish dish that combines the flavors of bonito fish with a tangy and aromatic marinade. With its origins rooted in the Mediterranean region, this recipe has stood the test of time and continues to be enjoyed by food enthusiasts around the world. By following the simple cooking process and incorporating some tips to enhance the flavor, you can create a delicious and memorable bonito en escabeche dish. So, gather your ingredients, get cooking, and savor the delightful flavors of this traditional Spanish


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here