Ceviche [pronounced sir-vee-chay] is a classic South American dish with lots of regional varieties. The simplicity of the fish dish it is what makes it so delicious. A light and refreshing summer starter, perfect for a dinner party or alfresco dining.
(Photo Source - Ceviche UK)
Traditionally a ceviche comprises of raw seafood lightly cured in citrus juices and spiced with aji or chilli, topped with a few extras. It’s the sort of dish where a fisherman could take a catch straight out the sea, chop it up, pour some tumbo on and serve it within minutes.
You might be thinking that the raw fish element sounds suspiciously like sushi. There is in fact another dish even more similar called Tiradito, which is effectively the Peruvian version of sashimi, influenced by the Japanese cutting of fish. Though in contrast to simplicity of ceviche recipes, it is often served with a spicy sauce or fused with Eastern flavours.
For me, as strange as it sounds, ceviche is the ideal hangover food. Most people crave some form of McTrash, but personally good clean food is necessary the day after the night before. There’s something about the sharpness of lime juice and chilli mingling with fresh seafood that’s like a tasty detox on a plate. It almost makes me want to jump on the raw movement bandwagon. Almost. If I didn’t love chicken so damn much.
Latin American food is having a moment in the spotlight, and rightly so. With super foods like goji berries and quinoa originating from the continent it’s no wonder they’ve captured our attention. Peru in particular benefits from many microclimates so their range of agricultural delights is huge, and surrounding waters mean a plentiful fish supply. As aforementioned, the Japanese have influenced some of the flavours, as have migrants from Spain, Italy and Africa. This fusion is what makes Peruvian cuisine so delectably unique.
Luckily, you don’t need to hop on a plane to experience the wonderful flavours as Martin Morales has brought a slice of Peru to Soho. A real tribute to the country; the walls are adorned with Peruvian paraphernalia and Afro-Peruvian electronic music wafts through the speakers capturing the essence of the culture.
The establishment, described by the Wall Street Journal as “a gastronomic dream”, has gained popularity thanks to a loyal following and a comprehensive menu of all Martin’s favourite dishes from back home. The bar brings together the two cities Lima and London with Peruvian classic Pisco featuring highly on the cocktail menu, concoctions made by staff from venues like Nobu and Soho House Group. The team have also opened a catering serve and started London Ceviche Week.
From humble beginnings as a supper club, Ceviche has now released a cookbook ‘Ceviche - Peruvian Kitchen’ so you can recreate the buzzing restaurant atmosphere at home. The recipes span a lot wider than seafood galore, with sections on the drinks, acclaimed street food and dishes with many varieties of potato.
Martin focuses on fresh produce and recalls his childhood searching through local markets. The pages are scattered with fond memories and tidbits, as well as the history behind dishes. The images throughout reflect the vibrancy of the local’s way of life. The book is perfect for expanding your collection of summer recipes whether you’re looking for a simple bite or extravagantly presented salads. The focus is on fresh, local and sustainable ingredients for the tastiest meal.
Seeing as we’re experiencing a little Peruvian sun this week, I attempted to make the popular dish Don Ceviche. As it is the first recipe in the book it seemed only right to give the signature dish a go. It uses sea bass as the main ingredient with red onion, sweet potato and coriander as toppings and the marinade that ‘cooks’ the fish is made up of lime, chilli, ginger, garlic and coriander. As well as being a perfect snack for sunshine, this recipe is particularly ideal since the base uses the same essential spices as Indian cooking, so conveniently are always my the fridge/freezer.
Making the ceviche was astonishingly quick. Chilli paste is added to the leche de tigre marinade or tiger’s milk, and the paste is easily used for other dishes. The leftover ‘milk’ is also great in drinks with the addition of pisco. The sea bass only needs a few minutes to firm up in the spiced citrus and once topped with red chilli, red onion, cooked sweet potato and fresh coriander it was ready to be enjoyed.
The dish had everything I was looking for, a light zingy dish with fresh fish and a good kick of chilli. It may not have been quite as attractive as the one in the book, but it sure tasted good! If you’re seeking sazón – the quest to achieve the perfect balance of flavours – ceviche is for you!
What are your favourite summer starter recipes?