An introduction to Ceviche

Saturday, 28 June 2014 - 6:10am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
As June 28 is celebrated as National Ceviche Day in the States, we decided to find out more about this Peruvian dish that is native to Central and South America

I first tasted Ceviche on one of my trips to Florida, and since then I have been eagerly waiting to try it back home. The only problem encountered is, it's hard to find this Peruvian dish on city restaurant menus that mainly cater to Pan Asian and Continental palates. So when I heard that Ceviche is available at Fratelli Fresh in Powai, I decided to drop by to learn more from Sandeep Pande, executive Chef at Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel.

What is ceviche?
It's a seafood dish that is native to Central and South America and is prepared using raw fish or seafood, which is then marinated in lemon or lime juice and served with onions, peppers and a side dish of sweet potato or peanuts. For those wary of eating it thinking it's raw fish, chef Sandeep says, "It's a misnomer to think ceviche is raw fish as the citrus in the marinade actually serves to naturally cook the fish, without exposing it to any heat from the outside."

RECIPE FOR CEVICHE
Ingredients

• 1 1/4 pounds fish fillets sea bass, sole cut 1-inch dice

• 1 lt water, boiled and chilled

• 1 red onion, cut in 1/2 lengthwise and sliced thin

• 1 clove garlic

• Salt and pepper

• 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

• 2 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro leaves

• 2 ears corn, cut in 1/2

• 1 sweet potato, sliced

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 2 tomatoes, blanched and cut into dices

• 1 red, yellow and green capsicum each, grilled and cut into dices.

• 1 head butter lettuce

• Tabasco to taste

Directions

Have grill pre-greased and preheated to medium-high.

Place fish in a non-reactive bowl. Add three cups of chilled water to fish and rinse gently.

Drain water. Add onions to remaining chilled water and let it soak. Meanwhile, place garlic, and pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle. Grind to make a paste. Combine fish, lime and lemon juices and garlic paste, salt, pepper, cilantro and rest of the ingredients. Let it marinate for 10 minutes. Brush corn and sweet potato slices with oil and place on grill. Cook for about 10 minutes. When ready to serve, divide fish ceviche among four lettuce cups and top it with onion slices. Serve with grilled corn and sweet potato slices and spike with Tabasco.

Ceviche and the Indian connect
Chef Sandeep adds, "The ingredients used to prepare ceviche ie local fish, lime, tomatoes, onions and peppers are familiar ingredients recongised by the Indian palate and are readily available here. Once people get over their initial apprehension about it being raw fish, you will learn to appreciate that the fish is fresh, nice and opaque and is nicely marinated, resulting in a burst of flavours which are distinct yet rightly balanced without being overpowering." Fratelli Fresh at Renaissance Mumbai Convention Center Hotel serves Ceviche as a starter for Rs 450 and as a main for Rs 650.

Did you know?
Cevice and the way it's prepared varies.
In Peru, it's made with raw fish marinated in lemon juice, lime juice or bitter orange juice, and is traditionally served with corn on the cob or cold sweet potatoes.
In Eucador they use tomato sauce and shrimps to prepare ceviche. It's served with thinly sliced plantains. Sometimes clams, crab, octopus or sea bass are also used.

In Panama, ceviche is prepared with white sea bass and is served in small pastry shells. Onion, celery, salt, habanero pepper, and lime juice are the main ingredients that go into it.

Chilean ceviche is prepared with Patagonian toothfish or halibut, and marinated with lime and grapefruit juice. Minced chilies and garlic are also added to the preparation.
Cuban ceviche is made using mahi mahi, salt, green bell pepper, allspice, habanero pepper, onion, and lime juice. Tuna and squid are also variations that you can find here.
Costa Rican ceviche is spiced with salt, pepper, onions, minced peppers, cilantro and lime juice. It comes with lettuce and soda crackers. Tabasco sauce and ketchup might also be served with it.
Hawaiian ceviche is made with shrimp, lobster or crab, lime juice, chilies, soy sauce, candlenuts and seaweed.

Ceviche is also popular in the Philippines, although the way it's prepared differs because of the ginger.

Mexican ceviche can be made with shrimp, crab, tuna or another kind of fish and chilies, nopales, passion fruit, Tabasco, lime juice, garlic, and bell peppers might also be used.
Tips you can use
By the freshest fish possible. Don't squirm at the thought of the dish having too much lemon. With food, cuisines or recipes go with your heart. Once you get the ratio of garlic, lemon, fish andonions right, don't shy away from experimenting. If you like things spicy add harbenaro sauce, or go ahead and give it a twist with jalapeño peppers, mangoes, or pineapple. Some people even spike it with tequilla.




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