Daring Cooks March Challenge: Peruvian Food - Fish Ceviche

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenged us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

I've never cooked Peruvian food before, and every recipe sounded really tasty. I finally decided to make the Ceviche recipe, because I hate frying and don't wanted the smell of hot oil into my kitchen and clothes again.  I would have liked to cook more, but when you are reading this, I'm already skiing the white snow-covered mountains near Lillehammer/Norway. While writing and cooking, I am busy packing my stuff and preparing for departure, so there is little time left for other things right now. The taste was interesting, but not really my favourite one; but I guess I have to repeat it with fresh corn, cilantro and better fish ...

Fish Ceviche (Cheviche de Pescado)
serves 4 as a starter or 2 as lunch
  • 2 lbs. (about 1 kg) firm white fish (scallops or other seafood may be substituted)
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1 chili pepper, minced (recommended: Aji if you can find it, but Jalapeno or other peppers can sub)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice (between 8-12 limes)
  • Fresh juice only, no bottled. Can use lemons in lieu of limes.
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) (4 grams) (1/8 oz) fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 large ear of corn
  • Lettuce leaves
Boil sweet potato and corn (separately) if using for garnish. Allow to cool. (Can be done hours or even a day in advance) Wash and trim your fish. Slice into pieces between ½ inch (15 mm) cubes to 2 inch (50mm) pieces, depending on taste. Place fish in a non-reactive, shallow pan in a thin layer. Season with salt and pepper.
Combine lime juice, chili pepper, coriander and garlic. Pour mixture over fish. Stir lightly to expose all the fish to some of the lime juice mixture. Put sliced onion on top of fish as it “cooks”. Let fish stand for 10 minutes. Lift fish out of the lime juice and plate individual portions, garnishing with lettuce, slices of sweet potato and slices or kernels of corn if using.

Kathlyn's notes: It is important to use high quality, really fresh fish. You can use previously frozen (I’ve been using it because I am too cheap to buy this much sashimi grade fish), but it’s not as good. The better your fish, the better your ceviche.
The fish is going to “cook” in the lime juice – how thick you make the pieces will determine how much the fish cooks, so keep your own preference in mind when you are cutting the fish up.
I have looked at recipes all over the interwebs for ceviche, and they all have different “cooking” times – I am going with 10 minutes because that’s what my Peruvian cookbook says. While I was in Lima, all the ceviche I ate was just barely white, and basically raw. I may cause a raging debate about ceviche by saying this, but I think that is most traditional. However, you can thoroughly cook the fish by letting it sit much longer – a few hours or even overnight. When I did this, it made the fish taste of nothing but lime and it was a bit rubbery, so it’s not what I would recommend.

My notes: I used canned corn and ground cilantro because I couldn't find fresh one.

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