How to Cook Eskabetse

by Ramona French

Garnish sweet and sour eskabetse with cilantro.

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Eskabetse is a Philippine dish -- fried fish with sweet and sour sauce. Although eskabetse is pronounced similarly to the name of the Mexican dish escabeche, eskabetse has more of a Chinese flavor than Mexican. Both are pickled fish, in the sense that an acid like vinegar or lime juice is used, but the Mexican escabeche is raw fish marinated in lime juice. Eskabetse can be made with other meat, such as pork or chicken as well as fish. Garnish the finished dish with a salad of julienned carrot, cucumber and radish.

Drizzle lemon juice over all sides of the fish and season it with 1 tsp. of salt. Let it rest while you heat the frying pan and 2 tbsp. of oil. When the pan is hot, fry the fish on both sides until it is golden brown. Remove it carefully from the pan with a spatula and place the fish on a serving platter.

Add the remaining 2 tbsp. of oil to the pan and heat the oil. Saute the garlic, ginger and onions in the oil for two minutes, stirring frequently to keep them from burning.

Add the bell pepper and carrot strips and saute for two additional minutes.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, water, salt, soy sauce and tomato paste or ketchup in a measuring cup. Pour it over the vegetables and bring it to a boil. Add the cornstarch and water mixture and stir until the sauce thickens and clears.

Pour the sweet and sour sauce over the fish and serve.


  • Serve the sweet and sour sauce over stir-fried chicken pieces or a breaded veal cutlet. Serve the dish with steamed white rice and a salad. Use rice vinegar or cider vinegar. Add more vegetables to the stir fry, such as slivered green beans, pea pods, green peas, mushrooms or different colors of bell pepper. Try pineapple cubes for a little extra sweet tang. Try different kinds of fish; Philippine recipes call for mackerel, grouper, skate or red snapper, for instance. Add cubes of tofu at the end after thickening the sauce with cornstarch. Heat the tofu through and serve the sauce over the fish.


  • "The Filipino-American Kitchen"; Jennifer M. Aranas, et al.; 2006

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Ramona French owned a massage school and taught massage for 28 years. In that time she wrote textbooks on Swedish, acupressure, deep tissue and lymph drainage massage. She is the author of "Introduction to Lymph Drainage Massage" and "Milady's Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage." Her book, "The Complete Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage," published by Milady, was released in October 2011.