Give Fried Seafood A Spicy Kick And Pop Of Color With Pickled Peppers

An ultra-crisp coating might be a marker of lip-smackingly delicious fried seafood, however, sometimes textures just aren't enough. Based on the fact that we crave variety, playing with flavor and aesthetics can help make dishes more intriguing. So, whenever a recipe for calamari turns out slightly lackluster, rest assured that there's an effortless way to amplify complexity without entirely scrapping the dish. All you need is some creativity — oh, and a jar of spicy pickled peppers.

A fiery twist on the tangy escabeche popularized in (but not limited to) Spain, serving fried seafood with pickled peppers creates a vibrantly acidic and dynamic dish. With the pickle acting as a palate-cleanser, Chopping Block explains that the acidity cuts through the richness of the seafood. Interestingly enough, this contrast in tastes continues as the fish's crisp and fatty coating is further balanced with a bit of heat. 

So, whether you skimped on seasoning prior to frying or find that a plate of beige battered filets, crustaceans, or shellfish isn't the most visually appealing, there's no reason why you should throw in the towel and serve a boring dish. Think outside the box and forgo salty or savory garnishes in favor of something more unexpected.

Pickled pairings with guaranteed success rates

Although you could buy a jar of spicy pickled peppers, making them from scratch allows you to better tailor the recipe to your needs should store-bought peppers be too bland or far too sweltering for your palate. Not to mention that you also have the liberty of experimenting with various assortments and combinations of peppers, as well.

For those with a lower spice tolerance that are looking for some punchy flavor along with a touch of crunch and color, it's wise to opt for regular peppers. That said, Food & Wine suggests slicing an array of sweet, tri-colored peppers and tossing them in a slightly saccharine brine. The resulting pickle is moderately tart, making it an ideal garnish to top delicate proteins like squid or mild filets of perch. Naturally, you could also add a few slices of a mildly hot pepper like jalapeño or serrano to the mix for an extra kick.

However, if you really want to dial up the intensity, why not give Jamaican escovitch sauce a try? Working with thinly sliced scotch bonnet peppers in addition to onions, carrots, and spices, The Seasoned Skillet explains that condiment works stunningly when paired with bolder seafaring proteins such as savory kingfish, smokey sprat, or a nutty red snapper. Sure to add an abundance of flavor and color to any fried fish platter, how much you choose to dress seafood is totally up to you!