By Ellen Wallwork
Ceviche is having a bit of a moment and is appearing at an increasing number of restaurants. But while this Peruvian delicacy looks a la carte, it’s surprisingly easy to make in your own kitchen – and you don’t even need to turn on the oven! In its simplest form, ceviche is chunks of raw fish ‘cooked’ in citrus juice – it’s the acid in the juice that denatures the proteins in the fish, similar to traditional cooking methods, turning them opaque.
So, with curing raw fish making it into Kenwood’s top 50 food experiences to try in a lifetime, we decided to try our hand at making ceviche. We sought out the expertise of Fernando Trocca, executive chef of the Gaucho restaurant chain where ceviche has been on the menu for more than 11 years. He shared his simple six-step guide to preparing the dish…
1. Cut the fish into small chunks
‘Make sure you select quality fish,’ says Fernando. ‘Fresh, locally and responsibly sourced fish is always best. The fresher the fish, the better the taste.’ Cutting the fish correctly is essential, too. ‘If the chunks are too big, the cure won’t reach the middle so the fish will still be raw.’
2. Season (optional)
Traditionally, ceviche is seasoned with salt. But the good news for healthy foodies is this is very much down to taste preference, so you can use as little salt as you want, or none at all. However, if you don’t add salt you’ll need to cure the fish for a little longer.
‘When preparing ceviche we refer to cooking, but it is actually curing,’ explains Fernando. ‘The citrus juices marinate the fish and seep through to the middle.’
Cure the fish in lime juice, then drain. The cure time depends on the type of fish and the size of the pieces you use. It can take from 30 sec (for thinly sliced tuna, scallops, lobster and sole) up to 5–7 min (for prawns). Cod and octopus need around 3 min.
4. Prepare the vegetables
Thinly slice red onions and cut vegetables into bite-size cubes. Popular veg choices include avocado, tomatoes and steamed sweet potatoes.
5. Make the marinade
Chilli, coriander and garlic are typically used in ceviche marinades, but spicy red pepper and tomato sauce also works well. ‘Spice is incredibly important,’ advises Trocca. ‘You want the dish to pack a punch with every mouthful.’
Gently combine the cured fish with the sliced onion and the marinade. Serve topped with the sliced vegetables, with a grinding of black pepper and a sprig of fresh coriander.