Mina Holland is the co-Editor of The Guardian Cook. Travelling and living (and eating) abroad inspired her to write about what and why people eat as they do around the globe. This piece is excerpted from The Edible Atlas, her first book.
The first time I ate ceviche, I was wary. Uncooked fish with chillies, citrus and raw onions? It sounded like the kind of food you most definitely wouldn’t want to eat on a date (not that I was on one), and that you avoided when travelling (which I was, in fact, doing). I don’t know what my expectations were, but I do know that the ceviche I eventually tried surpassed them. It contained onion and, yes, lots and lots of chilli and lime juice. It seemed to take everywhite fish and lobster, avocado, corn, little pieces of tomato, plumes of red thing that is brilliant about typically South American ingredients and apply them to seafood of the freshest calibre.
This really is Peru’s signature dish, and with more than 800 varieties, there’s clearly plenty of scope to tweak to your tastes. If you’re looking for life-affirming food – this is it. The raw onion, kick of chilli, acid prickle of lime juice and delicate raw fish combine to brighten the mood and cleanse the palate. I love that it’s so easy to make and so simple to adapt. You can have fun with this one. I’ve made suggestions about where you can use some creative license. You could, for example, try using another citrus fruit in place of (or with) lime. Jason Atherton uses yuzu at Pollen Street Social, and I’ve heard grapefruit works well, too.
600g skinless fillets of white fish (such as sea bass,
sole or snapper)
sea salt flakes
handful raw shelled prawns, raw shelled lobster,
raw roeless scallops (optional)
250ml lime juice (about 15 limes’ worth), strained
to remove the bits of flesh
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1cm piece ginger, very finely chopped
25g coriander, chopped
2 small red onions, finely sliced into half-moons
1 chilli (yellow if possible, though green will do),
deseeded and finely chopped
To Serve (Optional)
1 large hass avocado (ripe but not mushy), diced
2 tomatoes, halved, deseeded and diced
fresh sweetcorn cut from 1 cob
600g fresh podded broad beans, cooked in salted
water for 5 minutes and slipped from skins
1 • Put your fish fillets in the freezer for 20 minutes. This makes them easier to cut precisely. Remove and cut into 2cm chunks. Roll in salt flakes along with any shellfish you are using and set aside.
2 • You can also leave your sliced onion to soak in cold water for a few minutes, which will mellow out the flavour a bit.
3 • Mix the lime juice with the garlic, ginger and about half your coriander. Strain the mixture over the fish, making sure that it is evenly coated. Place in the fridge for an hour to ‘cook’ the raw fish.
4 • When you’re ready to eat, create a bed of onions, remove the fish from its marinade and place it on the onions. Pour about half of the residual marinade in which you ‘cooked’ the fish back over it, then throw over the chillies and remaining coriander before serving.
5 • At this point add your extra ingredients. I’m a big fan of avocado and corn with my ceviche. The corn adds some lovely crunch while soft avocado really complements the fish.
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