Today I am making ceviche-cebiche or sebiche- three different spellings for a dish that is as versatile as its name.
Ok let’s talk ceviche and how is made.
The first thing I like to discuss is the notion of a ceviche being cooked in lime juice or citrus; while many people think that the acidic citrus juices of the lime is what cook the fish, in fact it is not, what really happen is that when expose to acid protein denature. Denature refers to the process in which protein loses its structure or appearance when in contact with external forces, stress or compounds such as acid, salt or alcohol.
Now that we know what is meant when people talk about the ceviche being cooked in the acid of the lime or any other citruses for the same matter we can move on to discuss its preparation. It is important to understand though that denature is not the same as being cooked. Although the fish appears in appearance to be cooked it is not; in fact ceviche is the same as eating sushi or raw fish and therefore the risk for bacteria or parasites still exists. So it is imperative to choose fresh fish when making ceviche.
I have been eating ceviche since I met Betty – my Peruvian –Japanese best friend. I have been eating Betty’s ceviche for many years and absolutely no one that I know makes ceviche as she does except for me now because I learned it from her (lol).
As a cook though I am constantly learning and it does help that I like to read. Reading has saved me from boredom since I was a child. So here are some of the advices I have found alone the way about making a good Peruvian ceviche.
A classic Peruvian ceviche is made with fresh fish; essentially any non-greasy fish will work well. I normally buy flounder, sole, corvina-sea bass or any other semi-firm white fish. Avoid fatty and strong tasty fish such as salmon, sardines etc. Basically, as long as it is fresh any white fish will do the job. Next is the lime, which should be squeezed by hand no to erode the lime’s resin or the bitter taste that is release when the limes are pressed too much or too hard.
Aji is an important ingredient no only to add color but for a little bit of heat, aroma and flavor. In a traditional Peruvian ceviche aji limo or roccoto is normally used; others hot peppers can be used as well. In the United States these ajies can be found in any South America stores in paste, frozen or in a pickling form.
Onions are important I have never eaten a ceviche without onions, but here is the trick a least for me, they have to be sliced thin in julienne, they have to be wash well (my friend Betty trick is to wash the onions with salt and then rinse them through in cold water). I also put them in the freezer to make them crunchy and more refreshing.
In any case, onion should be used with cautions, especially in a delicate plate such as ceviche; onions can be strong and therefore overwhelm the dish. Here moderation is the key.
Naturally, salt should be used without remorse and cilantro is a plus. Other additional ingredients such as garlic and ginger are added to the traditional recipe to create a more modern version. I personally like the modern version of this dish where the fish is only marinated for a few minutes and then served.
This recipe is courtesy of my friend Betty Criado Nagaki.
Ceviche de pescado Peruano
- 1 1/2lb corvina o flounder (cut in two inches pieces)
- Sea Salt
- 1 garlic (clove - minced)
- 10 limes
- 1-2 onions (cut in julienne)
- Aji limo or rocoto (these ajies can be found in South America stores)
- Fresh ginger (optional)
- Cilantro (for both flavor and garnishing)
- Peruvian corn (found on any South American stores in the Jackson height area)
- Sweet potatoes
- Cilantro (minced)
|For the fish:|
|Cut the fish in two inches pieces and keep it refrigerated at all time or in an ice bowl through the whole preparation process.|
|For the mise places or preparation:|
|Cut the onions in julienne (cut thinly), pour a good amount of salt and rubbed the onion with it. Rinse with plenty of cold water and drain. Place the onions in the freezer until needed. |
Mince the aji limo, garlic, cilantro and grate the ginger if it is to be used and reserve.
|Putting everything together:|
|Place the fish in an ice bowl (similar to a cold bain marie) and add the salt- this will help the fish release some of its own juice. Cut the lime and squeeze it straight to the fish bowl if you had not done it before. Remember to squeeze the lime by hand and no too hard to avoid any of the lime resin or bitterness to bitter the ceviche. Add the aji limo or rocoto, minced garlic, cilantro and ginger. Taste your ceviche and make sure there is balance between the lime, salt and aji. Add the cold onions either now or on each plate served.|
|For the garnishing:|
|Peel the sweet potatoes or boil with skin on (peel after boiling them). Place in a pot covered with cold water and season with salt (or you can bake it). Boil it until tender and then reserve at room temperature until needed. (If you like your sweet potatoes extra sweet then a little bit of sugar can be added. The sweetness of the Sweet potatoes will balance the heat of the aji limo or rocoto. |
In the same manner boil the corn and let it cool down at room temperature until it is time to serve it. (A few drop of lime or lemon can be added for flavor and to blanch it).
|The presentation and assembly:|
|Serve in a soup cold bowl to add the liquid (this is if you like as I do the liquid of the ceviche) or in a salad plate; topped it with the cold onions, cilantro, the sweet potatoes and the corn. Bon appetit!|