Ceviche is a national obsession in Peru. My Peruvian friends who live outside of the country are eternally searching for the perfect ceviche. This dish is close to my heart, and I could eat it every day for the rest of my life. Mastering the art of ceviche-making is something for which I have to thank my stepfather; he is Peruvian and takes it very seriously. The most common ceviche is very simple: lime juice, ají limo which is a type of chilli (a cousin of the habanero), red onion and a touch of coriander. That is how I like it, especially if I make ceviche from a freshly caught fish. It’s simplicity to perfection.
I’m often asked how you know when the ceviche is done. Ceviche is like steak — it depends on your preference. I like to eat ceviche 5 minutes after it has been marinating in the lime juice because, just like steak, I like it medium rare. The lime juice will ‘cook’ the fish, so the longer you leave it the longer it will cook. You eat sushi and sashimi raw, so do not be afraid to eat your ceviche 5 minutes after starting to marinate. Just don’t eat it right away, so that the fish can soak up a little lime juice and cook a little. Most people like it after 15 minutes of marinating. Serve with roasted kumara and steamed fresh corn, when in season.
- 500 g fresh kingfish fillets, deboned and skinned
- 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced (on a mandolin if you have one)
- 1 each red, yellow and green small capsicums, de-seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 fresh red or green chilli, de-seeded and finely diced
- 1 cup lime juice
- 2 ice cubes
- pink Himalayan salt or flaky sea salt
- 1 bunch coriander, finely chopped, to garnish
- Place a medium-sized bowl in the refrigerator or freezer to chill.
- Dice fish fillets into 1 cm cubes and transfer to the cold bowl. Season the fish with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Add red onion, capsicums, chilli, lime juice and ice cubes. When the fish turns white, or is how you like it, remove the ice cubes.
- When ready to serve season with salt and garnish with coriander.
The most important things to know about ceviche-making are: (1) use the freshest fish available, never frozen; (2) a semi-firm, white-fleshed fish that is not too fatty works best — try trevally as well — and use a very sharp knife to cut the fish; (3) be generous with the amount of salt, and even if you do not like chilli, I encourage you to add a touch of it — rub some of the chilli flesh inside the bowl, it will go a long way; (4) never use bottled lime juice, always fresh, and if you find it too strong you can use a combination of lime and lemon juice; (5) do not over-squeeze the fruit because the juice gets bitter; (6) the bowl in which you make your ceviche should be cold — remember to put the bowl in the refrigerator or freezer while you gather all the ingredients.
Reproduced with permission from La Latina, by Grace Ramirez. Published by Random House (NZ). RRP $60.00. Text copyright © Grace Ramirez, 2015. Photographs copyright © Garth Badger, 2015.