Originating from what is now modern day Peru and Ecuador, ceviche – raw fish cured in fresh citrus juices – is now found not only across South America but has made its way into fusion cuisines across the globe. Nick Mosley finds out more.
The Pacific Rim kitchen has become something of a buzzword in recent years. Whether the raw sushi and sashimi of Japan or the seemingly ubiquitous Hawaiian poke bowls loaded with fresh ingredients, the bounty of the 165 million kilometre squared Pacific Ocean provides it’s neighbouring countries with a wealth of fish and seafood which has naturally become a bedrock of food culture.
In recent years, with global chefs and diners becoming familiar with different fish species and also more comfortable with different techniques of preparing it, we’ve seen an explosion of ceviche on menus at both independent and chain restaurants proving there’s more to life than deep fried battered cod.
The word comes from an ancient Quechuan word – ‘siwichi’ – which literally means fresh, tender fish. Instead of using heat to cook, the raw fish is prepared using lemons and limes.
“It’s a wonderful dish where the texture of raw fish is tempered with acid from citrus fruits, while retaining the freshness of raw fish:, said Sam Pryor of Fourth and Church in Hove.
Ceviche is quick and simple to prepare as the fish actually only needs about 5 minutes in the citrus juices to ‘cook’, making it a really simple, healthy and impressive lunch or supper.
“Good local fish for ceviche are wild sea bass, sea bream or even scallops”, said Kier Foster of Brighton and Newhaven Fish Sales in Portslade. “Bass and bream are just coming into season on the south coast and are available at our shop and fish counters. A few more adventurous restaurants also use grey mullet”.
Sam shares a simple recipe that has featured at Fourth and Church and recommends it is served with boiled potatoes.
“Ceviche goes brilliantly with a venerated Peruvian staple, potatoes. Their starchy earthy quality perfectly balances the acidic, bulby, spicy umami of the ceviche. Jersey Royals or any salad potato works well, as does sweet potato”.
Half a red onion, finely sliced length ways
250g skinless and boneless sea bass or sea bream fillets
1 tsp salt, plus extra to season
Juice of 3 limes
Juice of 1 grapefruit
2 tsp aji amarillo paste (or up the chopped chilli if you cannot get this)
2 finely chopped chillis of your choice (depending your preference of heat)
1 clove of garlic
1 piece of ginger the size of an olive
Half a bunch of coriander, chopped (optional, feel free to use parsley if so inclined)
1) Soak the onion in iced water for 5 minutes. Drain and leave on kitchen paper. This keeps the onions crisp and reduces any harshness.
2) Combine the juice of the limes and grapefruit with the aji amarillo paste in a small bowl. Lightly bruise the garlic and ginger with the flat of a knife leaving them still intact. Mix the garlic and ginger with the juice.
3) Cut the fish into thin strips of approximately 3 x 2cm. Put the fish in a large mixing bowl with the 1 tsp salt and mix gently. Leave for a few minutes for the salt to open the fish's pores.
4) Just prior to serving, pour over the juices and mix carefully. Leave the fish to ‘cook' in the marinade for 5 minutes.
5) Take out and discard the garlic and ginger. Add the chilli and coriander and extra salt to taste if required.
6) Serve on a platter with boiled salad or sweet potato around the outside.