Thursday, February 11, 2010

I wanted to make a ceviche, any suggestions?

I'm often asked what is my favorite thing to cook, which always strikes me as a little ridiculous. It's such a broad question, like asking Beethoven what is his favorite song (that's as modest a simile I can muster). There just isn't really an answer to the question.
However if one were to ask me what is my favorite thing to eat? It's still a very tough question, but one thing keeps popping into my head: Ceviche.
A south american dish of fish and/or seafood "cooked" in citrus juice. Cooked appears in parentheses because it is not actually heated, however the acid cause the same denaturing of proteins that heat would . . . but in a very different way.
When made well, it epitomizes freshness; the essence of the sea complemented with a squeeze of lime and the aroma of good cilantro. It is bright tasting and clean, and it goes with just about any meal. I've always been a fan of Peruvian style ceviche, maybe because of the ecoutrement, as it's usually dished up with avocado, sweet potatoes and, if you can find it, choclo, a larger, starchier varietal of corn.
Classic Peruvian Ceviche Mixto

8 oz. Super fresh white fleshed fish: Flounder, fluke, sole, snapper, bass, etc., cut into medium dice
8 oz. Shrimp, peeled and deveined
4-6oz. Calamari

Juice and Zest of: 3 limes, 1 lemon, 1 orange
1 red onion, sliced thinly
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tbsp Aji amarillo paste
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper

1/4 Cup cilantro, chopped

1 Roasted sweet potato (a la the sweet potato entry)
1 Sliced avocado

1. To prep the shrimp and calamari steep them briefly (about 2-3 min. each) in steaming hot water. Transfer immediately to an ice bath.
2. To make the dressing, simply combine the juice, zest, onions, garlic, aji, sugar and cayenne.
3. Toss the fish and seafood with the dressing 30 minutes before consumption.

To serve, garnish with avocado and sliced sweet potato (and choclo if you can find it).

This might even go well next to a heaping plate of Papa a la Huancaina


  1. I definitely want to make this dish sooner than later. Stupid question, is there a better time of year to make this dish? I mean, will the fish be fresher during a different season? I know the avocado won't be as ripe during this time of year, but how about the other ingredients?

    Also, have you ever made this with yuca?


  2. Hi Luis,
    This is a good question. I would say the star of this dish is the obviously the fish and seafood. So what ever is freshest is best. Depending on where you live different fish have different seasons throughout the year. For the calamari and shrimp, they're typically frozen where they're caught or farmed. So with a few exceptions their quality is pretty standard.
    Even with the avocado, its source changes throughout the year, and it is of more or less of equal quality.

    I have been known to eat my ceviche with a side of fried yuca. Steamed yuca would also be good with the Huancaina sauce in lieu of potatoes.

  3. In Peru (I lived there for 15 years) it is served usually with steamed sweet potato (camote, more like yam)the sweetness of the yam balances the aji and the acidity of the lemon - and choclo. Never had it with avocado, but it sounds really great. Will try it next time. Papas a la Huancaina is usually eaten by itself, not as a side dish.

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