The Other Raw Fish Dish
Cooking raw fish in citrus juice is at the heart of one of South America’s most popular dishes, Ceviche. This centuries old technique uses the acid from lime/lemon juice to cure or ‘cook’ the fish. Often served as a starter or a light lunch, it’s a refreshing and tasty meal and renowned as a very good hangover cure (first hand experience also confirms this).
Ceviche has many different forms across Latin America and the Caribbean and each country has its own distinctive take using local ingredients. They all involve either fish, shellfish, squid or octopus being marinated in either lemon or lime juice.
In Ecuador and Peru, the shellfish is seared for 20-30 seconds in order to intensify and improve the flavour before marinating. It is then served with toasted corn or sweet potato. In Panama, ceviche is served with crackers or little pastry shells called “canastitas”. In Mexico, it often is accompanied by tacos and guacamole.
Important Cooking Tips
1) The one most important factor to remember is that you must use fresh ingredients.
2) Ceviche needs to be made and eaten the same day.
3) Bear in mind what fresh fish is readily available; look for what is in season.
4) Buy your fish from a reputable source. Your local fishmonger or fish counter knows more about their own produce and will know what’s best. Do not risk making ceviche with pre-packaged fish.
5) Always use a non-reactive (i.e. not metal) bowl/dish so that you avoid any metallic after taste.
6) Don’t over-marinade the fish. If left for longer than 4 hours, the acidity will overpower the dish.
Mexican-style Fish Ceviche – 4 servings
400g of firm, fresh fish fillets (snapper, sea bass, halibut), cut into slices on the diagonal
50ml cup of freshly squeezed lime juice (2-3 limes)
50ml cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/2 purple onion, finely diced
3-4 freshly peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
2 tbsp fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped finely
Salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste
Put the slices of fish in a glass/non-reactive dish. Mix together the juices, onion, tomatoes and jalapeño and pour this over the fish, ensuring it is covered. Put some cling film over the dish and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Tabasco and serve with warm tacos, tostadas or tortilla chips.
Ecuadorian-style Shrimp Ceviche – 4 servings
150ml orange juice
100ml freshly squeezed lime juice (4-5 limes)
50ml tomato juice/passata
500g shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1 large fresh tomato, peeled and seeded
2 jalapeño peppers, roasted peeled and seeded
2 red peppers, roasted peeled and seeded
1/2 white onion
Sugar, salt and Tabasco to taste
Grill the tomato, peppers and onion under a high heat until they are blackened. Put them into a plastic bag and when cooled, remove the skins. Sear the shrimp in a frying pan / grill over a high heat for 20-30 seconds. Plunge into cold water.
Blend together the roasted vegetables with the juices (orange, lime and tomato) and pour the sauce over the drained shrimp in a freezer-proof container. Cover and chill for 25-30 mins in the freezer. Serve with toasted corn or ‘chifles’ (plantain chips) and a green salad.