Today´s recipe for the French Fridays with Dorie group is Sardines (Prawns) à l`Escabèche. This is a very popular French brasserie dish with Spanish roots that can be enjoyed as an appetizer or served as an antipasto/mezze .
Bascially, à l`Escabèche, means a dish that preserves fish by frying it, then pickling it. As the fish (such as sardines, prawns, or mackerel) absorbs the vinegary dressing over time, its flavor deepens, picking up the notes of the different ingedients of this dish. Following Dorie´s recipe those lovely flavors inlude rosemary, thyme, sun-dried tomatoes, chile, coriander and tomato paste.
The pickled vegetables (Dorie´s recipe calls for onion, carrots, celery and garlic) are considered to be a fantastic way to cut the oiliness of the fish, especially if you are using sardines. They are available throughout the winter but are at their best in spring. Sardines from Portugal, Spain and France are considered to be particularly good – since I learned from my fishmonger that I was late with my order and therefore could not get my hands on sardines in time (they are due to arrive at the beginning of the week), I opted for Dorie´s „Bonne Idée“ and went with the prawn version instead. Apparently, fresh sardines are not that popular around these parts - although I know a lot of people who consider them ideal for grilling and barbecuing.
Although, unfortunately, I was not able to try sardines in this recipe, I certainly did not regret making this dish with fresh prawns instead. The sweet, firm, meaty flesh of the prawns was delicious when paired with the pleasantly sour note of the pickled vegetables. Plus the prawns turned a lovely orange hue from the sweet sundried tomatoes and the tomato paste, very pleasant to the eye as well - which, as you might have noticed, is something I enjoy quite a bit.
Overall, we thought that this was a very tasty and different way to serve prawns. I also really enjoyed the versatility of this dish – you can keep it in the fridge for up to a week, enjoy it cold or at room temperature, on its own or an a bed of seasonal salad, or maybe with some nice grilled bread or as part of a mezze or antipasto spread.
To see whether the other members of the French Fridays with Dorie group enjoyed this week´s recipe, please go here.
For copyright reasons, we do not publish the recipes from the book. But you can find the recipe for the Sardines (Prawns) à l´Escabèche on pages 188-9 in Dorie Greenspan´s cookbook "Around my French Table".