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Filipino-Style Escabeche (Sweet and Sour Fish)

As a child, Edwin's mom told him, "If you want to eat, you should cook it yourself." And that's exactly what he's been doing ever since.

Filipino Sweet and Sour Fish

Filipino Sweet and Sour Fish

Escabeche: Seafood Dish From the Philippines

In Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine, escabeche is a marinated fish cooked in an acidic mixture. Filipino-style escabeche is a bit different. It borrows from Chinese cuisine (for example, sweet and sour pork). In this case, the whole fish is fried until crispy and then it is cooked in a sweet and sour sauce with vegetables. So if you like seafood and you love sweet and sour Chinese dishes, give this dish a try.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

20 min

35 min

2-3 sevings


  • 1 whole fish, cleaned
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup ginger, cut into stips
  • 1/2 cup carrots, cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste


  1. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan. Fry the fish on both sides until brown and crispy. Set aside.
  3. In a saucepan, saute the garlic, onions, ginger, and carrots. Then add the bell peppers.
  4. In a bowl, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar and then pour into the saucepan. Simmer the vegetables and sauce, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Pour the sauce and vegetables on top of the fish in the frying pan and cook for an additional 6 minutes, turning the fish after 3 minutes.


  • You can use any type of fish you want. In this recipe, I used tilapia.
  • If you'd prefer not to cook a whole fish, you can use cut-up pieces.
  • For crispier fish, coat it with cornstarch before frying.
  • Instead of cooking the fish in the sweet and sour sauce, you can fry the fish thoroughly until cooked. Then just pour the sauce and vegetables on top of the fish before serving.


Edwin Alcantara (author) from California on July 09, 2020:

Hi Joy. To add the reddish color, I sometimes use a red-wine vinegar.

Joy on July 09, 2020:

What makes the sauce red?

Edwin Alcantara (author) from California on June 12, 2020:

You're welcome. Glad to hear that. Most likely the cuisines of both Malaysia and Philippines influenced each other, hence the similarities in some dishes.

Liza from USA on June 12, 2020:

I love sweet and sour fish. In Malaysia we called the dish 'ikan masak masam manis'. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I think this would be a perfect dish for dinner weekend with family.

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