If you’ve been to an authentic taqueria, you might have seen large containers of pickled vegetables (and sauces) which you can enjoy as condiments on your food or simply on their own. These might be whole or sliced pickled jalapeno, carrots, onions, cauliflower, radish, or a mix of some of these.
However, in my experience restaurant and store iterations of escabeche are always marinated or pickled in a vinegar brine. With just about any traditional, national pickled dish with a long history (like cucumber pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc.) I think it’s important not to assume the original version was made this way. And even in the case of certain things that always were and are vinegar pickled, then I start to really want to know what it might taste like lacto-fermented instead. (This led to other recipes here such as this fermented chimichurri.)
In modern times, mass-produced products which are shelf stable through the combination of vinegar, chemical preservatives, and heat canning methods, has helped the bottom line of companies. Today, let me help you to make something as flavorful as it is healthy!
This is an easy ferment which you can be creative with. Pick any one of these items in the manner described, or combine all of them… it’s really up to you. Hate cauliflower? Don’t include it. (But it’s so good for you!) Change things up… maybe instead of jalapeno, you try some bell pepper slices if you’re averse to spicy. I’ll say up front that the onion doesn’t stay as firm as the other veggies, but I personally enjoy the contrast in textures together.
The following is for a quart jar recipe.
- knife & cutting board
- quart jar (or larger, adjust recipe accordingly)
- airlock/fermenting lid
- fermentation weight
- canning funnel
- kitchen gloves if handling hot peppers
- In roughly equal proportions, use any or all of the following: carrot; cauliflower; radish; onion; jalapenos (or other peppers of choice) with or without seeds retained
- 1 tsp black or rainbow peppercorns per quart (32-oz.) or 1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3.5% salt brine (for a quart jar, 1 TBSP non-iodized salt dissolved into 2 cups filtered water; there will likely be some extra brine)
Optional add-ons (per quart)
- 3-6 garlic cloves, quartered
- 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano (or use regular as a substitute)
- 1 TBSP lime juice
- 1/2 tsp whole coriander seed (coarsely ground)
- 1/2 tsp whole cumin seed (coarsely ground)
- Lightly wash all the veggies chosen
- Slice carrots, onion, radish, and peppers to about 1/4″. Also suggested to halve or quarter onions before slicing for more a more manageable size to eat.
- If using cauliflower, cut down into small florets; halve or quarter large florets
- Place all garlic and seasonings in fermenting vessel(s)
- Put in all the veggie slices to the shoulder of the jar. To create a more attractive ferment, you can layer the different components. Or just mix it all in as you’ll probably want to eat it as a mix anyway.
- Slowly pour in the brine until the veggies are submerged.
- Top with a fermentation weight brine. This is an important step for this ferment since the spices, seeds, or bits of cauliflower can float to the top, creating conditions for mold growth. If desired, all veggies can be kept in a foodsafe mesh bag in the jar.
- Keep it at room temperature for a few days. You can open and enjoy this ferment in as few as 3-4 days. The flavors will continue to meld and develop whether you ferment it longer (a week or so) or put it in the fridge. It will continue to ferment in the fridge but at a much slower rate.