Wednesday, 29 February 2012


Treating myself to some home made Peruvian ceviche (pronounced say-vee-chay) this evening.

In Peru it's something of a national treat - they even have a ceviche day in June. I was introduced to this method of cooking while on my travels in the seventies.

First prepare a home made sweetcorn, potato and apple salad. You know the thing. I'll be going for a supermarket salad pack with chopped apple, tinned sweetcorn and - ye small gods forgive me - a mix of home made mayonnaise, black pepper and salad cream from a bottle. I know. Sacrilegious.

Don't worry about anything wilting. This is very quick. The beauty of ceviche is it's simplicity, but don't let the simplicity fool you. Here in Britain we tend to cook our fish using heat. This is cooked cold.

You may well have noticed I'm well into my pickles, and this perhaps where my pickling habit got it's hooks in me. The more 'specialist' - by that read for personal use because of the expense - doesn't use vinegars, but citrus. It's not good to waste the excess citrus fluids once the fruits and/or veg have been eaten.

Ceviche is traditionally prepared using leche de tigre, that is, lime juice that has had chilli pickled in it, and in my case, celery and onion. I'm not sure the latter two add anything, but I like onion and celery in other dishes :)

I prefer to slice from whole fish, any fish, it's good to experiment, and slice very thin slices. Rinse in cold water. Sprinkle with a fine sea salt, and strain the citrus - in my case, lime - over the slices. I'll be using some bass.

Serve immediately. Immediately? What happened to the cooking? The lime begins to cold cook the fish. You'll notice the edges of the fillets will begin to take clear, as the protein in the fish breaks down. Try it :)
If you don't mind experimenting, try a large fillet of fish, with a good sloshing of lime and/or lemon juice, a pinch of pepper and plenty of crushed garlic (optional) place it in a sealed container in the fridge for a couple of hours or three. Serve.

Though I usually use white fish such as bass, sole, plaice, and haddock or pollock, I've tried this with oily fish such as mackerel and I was pleasantly surprised.

A quick aside. There's nowt wrong with powdered chilli, nor bottled supermarket lime or lemon juice. I'm not THAT fussy. Usually. :)

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