By La Salsa Inglesa

It is considered good food etiquette in Guatemala to keep your fridge full with pre-made food ready to offer unexpected visitors at any time of day or night; aunque solo tortillas con queso’ (even if it’s just tortillas and cheese) as the phrase goes. A Tupperware filled to the brim with frijoles is one requirement; a bowl of escabeche is another. Escabeche combines chilies and vinegar to make a spicy condiment ideal for desayunos, cenas, pupusas and, of course, on top of tortillas con queso.

This recipe was taught to me by the Asociación de Mujeres del Altiplano’s (AMA) talented cook; my mentor over the summer who tirelessly serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner to groups of hungry service learning volunteers.

If you’re not keen on hot food be sure to take out all the chilies’ seeds and membrane. Leaving the chilies whole, which I did on my first attempt, made the escabeche extremely hot. For a medium-hot condiment try taking the seeds out of half the chilies, as suggested in the instructions below.


  • Two medium-sized onions, sliced
  • 2 carrots peeled and sliced into 1cm rounds
  • 1 lb jalapenos
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • a few sprigs of thyme (tomillo)
  • 2 bay leaves (laurel)
  • ¼ cup vinegar


To prepare the chilies: score down all the chilies lengthways. Using a knife take out the membrane and seeds of half the portion then roughly chop all of them into 1-2 cm slices

In a large frying pan heat a couple of tablespoons of oil and fry the sliced onion, garlic (whole), carrots, bay and thyme for a couple of minutes before adding the jalapenos. Fry together for a few minutes

Add 3 cups of water and bring to the boil. After about 10 minutes when the jalapenos have begun to change color add the quarter cup of vinegar, cook for a further 5 minutes checking that the carrots are cooked before turning off the heat. Add salt to taste, and when cool keep in the fridge until your unexpected guests arrive.

My Latin American food blog can be found at AMA’s Alternatives Boutique sells homemade salsas, peanut butter and jam as well as beautiful textiles: 5a avenida 6-17 Zona 1.


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