The name Escabeche covers a whole range of Spanish, Portuguese or Latin American dishes that are usually made of fish or meat that are marinated and cooked in a relatively acidic sauce that has a deep rich Spanish paprika flavour. Jenny Dorsey from SeriousEats.com says that this method for making escabeche dates back several centuries, with one of the earliest recipes appearing in the 1324 medieval cookbook Sent Soví. It starts with a fish stock made with onion, olive oil, salt, and parsley. “With this stock you prepare an almond milk,” says Francesco Castro of this ancient version. “You then take fried fish, cook it with spices, add the milk and olive oil, and check for sweetness and sourness. You can then add salt, and raisins soaked in wine or vinegar”.
Ingredients for 6 to 8 people:
2 kg of fresh uncooked, unfrozen black mussels, washed, scrubbed and debearded
200 ml olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
2 stems whole fresh rosemary
3 stems whole fresh thyme
4 bay leaves
2 sticks cinnamon
1 medium red chilli, cut open lengthwise and deseeded
10 ml whole black peppercorns
1 lemon, zest removed and cut into thin julienne strips, juice of lemon
20 ml paprika (use smoked paprika if you prefer a smoky taste to the final dish)
100 ml red wine vinegar
5 ml salt
1 whole papaya, cut into small cubes
A selection of tiny lettuce and herb leaves and edible flowers, dressed with a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper
Place the cleaned fresh mussels in a large pot with a tight fitting lid.
Cook on top of the stove until the mussels start to open. Give the pot a vigorous shake now and again to ensure that all the mussels receive enough heat, though the steam generated should do the trick.
Let them cool and remove the mussels from the shells.
Warm the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, bay, cinnamon, chilli, lemon zest and pepper until slightly bubbly.
Cook for three or four minutes.
Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, vinegar, paprika and salt.
Check for seasoning.
Add the shucked mussels and keep in the fridge for a couple of days for the flavours to develop and the mussels to absorb some of the marinade.
Spoon a few teaspoons of the mussel sauce into the papaya, stir through and divide the papaya onto 6 or 8 plates.
Use a ring mould to press the papaya into a layer at the bottom of the ring.
Spoon some mussels and sauce on top of the papaya and press down lightly.
Remove the ring and top with a nice bundle of mixed leaves.
Drizzle some extra sauce around the mound of papaya mussels.
Enjoy with crusty bread.