My first time ever eating ceviche was on christmas day many years ago. My step-father made it for the family and guests who arrived to share the holiday spirit. I brought a good friend of mine and she had never eaten ceviche before either. When we both sat down and put pieces of herbed juicy fish, and vegetables onto our saltine crackers, I remembered we hardly exchanged words. As we filled our mouths with this delectable foreign taste, for me, it was like a marinade of tangy explosions in my mouth. In my state of amazement, I asked my step-father what exactly we had been eating and in a boastful manner answered that there’s no actual cooking involved. I wondered then, as I continued to fill my stomach with this aquatic dish, was I actually eating raw fish? My taste buds and my mind for a second didn’t agree, but when I looked over at my friend, she was just as dazed as I was. Eventually, our taste buds persevered.
I truly never had ceviche like that for many years. Then, fast forward to February 14th, 2014. A close friend was throwing a dinner party (in no relation to Valentines Day.) The menu was… Peruvian ceviche! Never in my life had I ever looked forward to Valentines day, as if I was going to be rekindled with a long past passionate fling!
But seriously, I was excited to have my South American friend prepare a dish I never quite found satisfying in many seafood restaurants throughout the city. When I arrived, she was setting up the dinner table for everyone. Since there is no actual cooking involved in making ceviche, it all comes down to the ingredients and the preparation. Although, preparing the dish is very simple, it can take many hours and she had been at it since noon.
To show her my gratitude, I brought a bottle of wine, a Syrah and Grenache blend, to accompany our refreshing dish. Usually ceviche pairs better with white wines since it's served cold, but on such a chilly night, I opted we wash it down with a smooth and velvety red.
My expectations far exceeded what I had thought. It was just like the ceviche my step-father had made on christmas day several years ago. The tangy marinade and fresh herbs with plump pieces of white fish had reached my patient taste buds and I was good again. Now the moment you’ve been waiting for, the recipe for Peruvian Ceviche:
2 lbs of Tilapia (or any “in season” white fish) cut into cubed pieces.
One red onion cut longways
One whole garlic clove, finely chopped
Sea salt for taste
One teaspoon of cumin
One habanero pepper, seeded and chopped
Half a cup of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
One pound bag of limes
One box of water or saltine crackers.
Preparation: First soak the fish in cold salt water to preserve its texture. Then juice all the limes from your bag (this is the only laborious part in making the dish, but highly important because it “cooks” the fish with the acidity from the juice.)
Then drain the fish from the salt water and bring chopped ingredients and lime juice together in a big glass bowl. Stir very well then refrigerate for a half hour. (To deepen the taste, leave in refrigerator for an hour or two.) Alas you have Peruvian Ceviche.
Since spring equinox is around the corner, (March 20th) I suggest celebrating the coming of warmer days with this refreshing fish medley with some close friends, maybe some people you’ve never met, they will surely be impressed!
Buen provecho! (Spanish proverb for, “enjoy your meal.”)