Ceviche

I had my first taste of Ceviche while filming near the Chilean border with Peru, in a plastic shack on the beach, very memorable. Ceviche is a traditional Peruvian dish that has become popular around the globe. It is also very easy and quick to make, requires no cooking and is the perfect summer dish. The basic components are raw fish cured in citrus juice, chilli, alliums and aromatic herbs. There are infinite variations, below are some tried and tested examples, including a vegetarian version.
basics

  • fish: a firm white sea fish such a bass or grouper works best, it has to be very fresh and cold. Cutting it into 1,5 to 2 cm cubes yields the best texture. Freshwater fish are rarely used but I have had good results with Austrian Saibling (arctic char). Curing raw fish in citrus juices will not kill parasites, so if you are concerned about this, you can freeze the fish beforehand at -20 degrees Celsius for 7 days. A good alternative is using octopus, it needs to be cooked anyway and works very well in terms of texture, taste and colour.
  • citrus: lime works best, lemon is OK too. You can add orange, passion fruit, yuzu or bergamot juices for a more complex flavour.
  • onion: mild onions are best, red ones add a nice colour. Slice super-thin. To prevent the onion to overpower the fish, it needs to be soaked in cold water for 15 minutes and drained very well.
  • chillies: Peruvians use fruity aji amarillo, but all other chilli peppers that are not too hot work, too. Merquén makes an interesting alternative.
  • herbs: traditionally, fresh coriander is used but I have made Japanese adaptations using shiso and Austrian versions with tarragon, see below.
  • vegetables: tomatoes, sweet peppers and cucumber add colour, texture and flavour. In a fish ceviche the fish should remain centre stage though.

classic ceviche

250 g firm white ocean fish
60 ml citrus juice
1/2 small mild onion or shallot
1 fresh red chilli, medium hot
fresh coriander

Finely slice onions and soak in iced water. Cut fish into 1,5 cm thick cubes, salt, let stand for 5 minutes. Mix with the citrus juice and leave to marinate for 5-20 minutes in the fridge. The precise time depends on the type of fish and your taste – just taste a piece every 5 minutes and stop marinating when the fish has reached the desired taste and texture. Mix with the chillies drained onions and chopped coriander, serve immediately.

Austrian

This was born out of the idea to make a ceviche with local Austrian ingredients. I used Austrian freshwater fish instead of ocean fish, pear vinegar replaced lemon juice and fresh tarragon the coriander – which was a revelation. Since I had peaches lying around they went in as well and worked beautifully.

250 gr arctic char (Saibling)
salt
1 Austrian Pfefferoni chilli
60 ml pear vinegar
1/2 small red Onion, finely sliced and soaked
1/2 cucumber, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 peach, diced
fresh tarragon

Finely slice onions and soak in iced water. Cut fish into 1,5 cm thick cubes, salt, let stand for 5 minutes. Mix with the vinegar and leave to marinate for 5-20 minutes in the fridge. The precise time depends on the type of fish and your taste – just taste a piece every 5 minutes and stop marinating when the fish has reached the desired taste and texture. Mix with the chillies, the drained onions and chopped tarragon, serve immediately.

Japanese

Shiso replaces coriander, yuzu juice the lime and yuzukosho the chilli. This works particulary well with octopus.

250 g cooked octopus, cut into 0,5 cm slices
60 ml yuzu juice 
1 teaspoon of ume shiso ponzu
yuzukosho (recipe)
1/2 small mild onion or shallot
1/2 cucumber, diced
shiso, shredded
dulse seaweed, reconstituted
some chopped umeboshi and shichimi togarashi to serve

Finely slice onions and soak in iced water. Cut octopus into 0,5 cm thick slices. Mix with the yuzu juice and shiso ponzu and leave to marinate for 10 minutes in the fridge. Mix with the rest of the ingredients. Garnish with some chopped umeboshi and shichimi togarashi.

Vegetarian

For vegetarians, diced mozzarella is a good replacement for the fish in terms of colour and texture. It should be very cold too and salted for some time before adding it to the rest of the ingredients, no need to marinate it. Play with the following components and anything else that comes to mind:

mozarella
citrus juices
onion
chilli
tomatoes
cucumber
peppers
peach
coriander or tarragon
salt

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