food: ceviche

I was watching the brilliant Anthony Bourdain on tv a couple of weeks ago when he was traveling in Panama eating the local delicacies, one of which is Ceviche – fish cooked in citrus. The great thing about Panama is that you  have access to Pacific fish on one coast and Atlantic species on the other, so you have a huge variety of fresh ingredients to play with.

I had eaten ceviche years ago in Odessa (I think) probably with, or due to Eleanor Walsh, a fabulous cook who used to have an involvement there. I remember being a little apprehensive about eating it, but when I tasted it it was amazing. I was having a few foodie friends over for supper the other day so I decided on ceviche for a  starter.

Having researched it on the web, it seems that of paramount importance is the freshness of the fish you use. I nipped up to the local fish shop and asked the fishmonger what was fresh, and ended up walking away with a mix of fresh whiting fillets, a bit of red snapper and  little organic salmon.

about 1kg of freshest possible fish (whiting, red snapper, salmon)
5 limes and 2 lemons juiced
1 clove of garlic shaved
1 small red onion, very finely sliced
1 tomato, diced
1 very hot red chili, very finely sliced
1 yellow pepper, diced
hefty pinch of salt
a big bunch of coriander, very finely chopped, stalks included

1 avocado, sliced
1/4 mango, diced

Rinse the fish under cold running water & shake dry. Slice finely into 3 x 1 x 1 cm strips and place in a glass (non-reactive) bowl. Add everything except the avocado and mango. Cover and put in the fridge for 3 or 4 hours. Every hour or so, take it out and stir the mix around so that anything which isn’t submerged in the juice get its day in the liquor.

Shortly before eating, add in sliced avocado and mango. These are needed to balance the acid in the juices. Add in the rest of the coriander and mix well.

You can drain off some of the cooking liquor and serve it in shot glasses to your guests as an aperitif. It’s also reputed to be the best hangover cure in the world.