How to Make An Absolutely KILLER Ceviche Without Killing YOURSELF!
My version of ceviche has two small, yet significant shortcuts. Ceviche is a traditional dish from the coastal regions of South and Central America. Basically it describes the preparation of seafood cured with lemon or limejuice. The acid in the juice changes the protein in the fish so it seems cooked – but no heat is applied.
I have great experiences with ceviche. At parties it usually disappears in no time at all. Unfortunately, when you want to prepare a serious amount of ceviche you need loads of lemon or limejuice. I don’t like to use the commercial lemon juice sold in bottles because it contains ascorbic acid as preservative, which adds a distinctive, unpleasant flavour.
Because I don’t want to spend hours squeezing lime, I have worked out the following shortcut: I cure the fish overnight in synthetic vinegar, then rinse the cured fish and douse it in a lemon vinaigrette.
My second shortcut is the choice of fish. Instead of buying fresh fish, I use frozen fish filets. Here in Goa we can buy Basa fish filets imported from Vietnam. There is a big discussion going on if Basa is healthy or not. So far, I have had only good experiences.
I only buy frozen fish filets in packets that look well closed. I also pay attention that the fish is not covered in big ice crystals. That is a sign that the fish has been defrosted and refrozen. Some supermarkets sell Basa fish filets defrosted, but I avoid these. I don’t know how long the fish has been lying there. If you buy defrosted fish filets, you have to use them immediately.
My ceviche is a great dish for parties because you can prepare big amounts with relative ease. However, you cannot keep this dish longer than one or two days in the fridge.
Wishing you happy cooking, always!
Ingredients (for 4 big servings):
• 1 kilogram frozen Basa fish filets
• 1 litre synthetic vinegar
• 12 lime, maybe less, maybe more
• 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
• 3 or 4 fresh, big red chillies
• 1-bundle spring onions
Take out the frozen fish filets and let them defrost for one or two hours. They should not be completely defrosted because they are a lot easier to cut into equal slices when they are still slightly frozen.
Cut them into slices around one centimetre thick. Place the slices into a container and pour the vinegar over it. The fish should be completely covered by the vinegar so it cures evenly. I prefer synthetic vinegar because it does not imbue any flavour to the fish. I have tried to use toddy or other vinegar, but it leaves a flavour behind that I don’t like so much.
Close the container and leave it overnight in the fridge. Some people claim that you can overcook fish by marinating it and advise not to cure it for longer than 30 minutes or so. I think this is highly exaggerated. Anyway, Basa is a sturdy fish that withstands a night in vinegar easily without turning hard.
The following day, drain the fish and rinse it thoroughly with drinking water. Drain it again and place it into a sufficiently big container or plate. You have to work cleanly when preparing ceviche because you don’t cook the fish.
Wash the spring onions, clean them and slice them finely. Spread them over the fish. Wash the chillies and chop them finely. I put them into a jam or Nutella glass with a tight closing lid. This is the fastest way to make proper vinaigrette. Squeeze your lime or lemons. You need about 60 to 70 ml of juice.
This depends a lot on your taste. I like my ceviche quite tart. I want to taste the lemon or lime. You might need to adjust the amount of juice you use according to your taste. Start with a bit less, you can always add more. Place the lemon or limejuice to the chopped chillies in the glass. Add about half a teaspoon of salt, close the lid and shake the glass until the salt has dissolved. Adjoin the olive oil and some pepper and shake again until you have a fine emulsion.
Pour the vinaigrette over the fish and mix everything well. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste.
If you feel adventurous, you can take the taste of ceviche in different directions. I like the taste and the look of chillies with spring onion. But you could also make a kind of Mediterranean ceviche with oregano, thyme and garlic. Or you could add the Indian favourite herb coriander and maybe some garam masala with ginger and/or cumin powder. Enjoy!
Kornelia is a German food writer living in Goa, India, with her Italian husband and her son. She has published two cookbooks, Kornelia’s Kitchen – Mediterranean Cooking for India and Kornelia’s Kitchen 2 – Cooking for Allergies. Both have won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award. All her recipes are easy, fast and delicious – the right kind of food to keep your family healthy and happy without spending too much time in the kitchen.