It has been absolutely amazing to have my friends from all over the world. I can not imagine my life without these international, multicultural and diverse mates. Knowing them and spending time with them, not only broadens my horizons enormously, but also gives me a delightful lesson of life. Even my coooking has been influenced by cuisines from my friends’ mother lands.
Yesterday, my lovely friend Marce, invited me for the very first cooking class. She showed me how to prepare CEVICHE, a traditional Peruvian fish meal that cooks itself in the acids from lime. The session was absolutely brilliant. It was an incredible experience to learn about all little steps that make this dish taste like heaven. Every step is important: the way you cut the fish, squeeze the limes and slice the onion.
First of all, when you make ceviche, it is crucial to set an appropriate atmosphere in your kitchen. Yes, the answer is – Peruvian music!!! I highly recommend a band called Novalima. Their music fantastically blends the Afro-Peruvian, Latin American and contemporary electronic sounds.
There are several kinds of ceviche based on different types of fish or “frutti di mari” but the basic ingredient, lime juice, is irreplaceable. With all due respect for Jamie Oliver’s cooking knowledge and culinary innovations, according to my friend, he just didn’t get that right when he substituted lime juice with lemon juice in his ceviche dish ( Jamie’s American Road Trip ). You MUST use LIME juice and only lime juice to make an authentic ceviche. Having said that, I think we are ready for Marce’s ceviche cooking instructions.
Serves 2 (large portions)
You will need very fresh ingredients:
3 tilapia filets – you may want to remove the red parts for esthetic reasons
9 limes (juice only) – don’t squeeze the limes to the very end to avoid the bitterness of the white part of the lime skin!
1/4 fresh red chili
a pinch of Aji amarillo (Peruvian chili paste) (if missing add more fresh chili)
a dash of garlic powder
a pinch of pepper
1 red onion, finely sliced in a “rainbow” style (semicircles)
1 celery stick, finely diced (optional)
2 coriander springs, chopped; to garnish
1 small canned sweet corn
1 cooked sweet potato
2 large lettuce leaves
2 handfuls of Peruvian popcorn
1. Rub the fish fillets with a bit of salt and rinse it under cold water
2. Cut the fish along the centre, then cut each half sidewise
3. Peel the onion, halve it and slice it in a rainbow style (semicircles); sprinkle with salt, rub it using your hands, rince the onion under cold water and let it rest
4. Rub the metal bowl with the piece of chili, then finely chop the chili
5. In a metal bowl mix together the chili and 1 teaspoon of salt; shake it and smash it gently with a spoon
6. Add a pinch of garlic powder and black pepper to the salt & chili mixture
7. Add the lime juice; stir everything gently checking if the sauce is salty enough. Make sure it’s not too salty
8. Add the fish, check the seasoning, stir it gently and finally add the onion. Sprinkle the dish with fresh chopped coriander; leave it for a minute or two
9. The fish will nicely cook itself in this amazing lime & salt sauce!
10. Serve your ceviche with a few slices of cooked sweet potato and a handful of sweet corn on the “lettuce bed” – decorate the whole dish with some Peruvian popcorn
Ps: It is very difficult to tell how much salt this dish needs. It all depends on your personal preferences and on the type of salt you use (use fine table salt rather than sea salt). It is something that needs to be tested and eventually mastered.
I can’t wait for a ceviche plate prepared 100% by me!