This dish is so easy that it cooks itself, literally! Fish is ‘cooked‘ in a marinade of chilli, onions, coriander and lime. The dish is a favourite among us at the Dehouche office as summer starts its ruthless descent upon the city. It’s the perfect starter for a meal, easy to throw together yet elegant, fresh and bursting with flavour. Here are our top tips to master this wonderful dish.
1. Choosing your Fish
Your fish should be fresh out of water, this is as good a reason as any to stay local. Eyes should be clear rather than glassy, it should smell like sea and the scales should shine. The type of fish you go for should be firm as a good handshake, if it is too flaky it won’t absorb the flavours well. Stick to white fish like dover sole, bream or bass because more flavourful fish like salmon overpower the zingy marinade. Please for the love of cod stay away from oily fish like mackerel or sardines. Finally when preparing the fish make sure its kept ice cold by storing it in on ice before you dice it up.
2. Choosing your Cut
Some chefs tout fish sliced into slivers so that it cooks all the way through, others swear big sashimi style chunks are the way to go. Our favourite is a happy middle, keeping just it thick enough to vary the textures and flavours while letting the sour marinade cut through the fish, 1 by 2 cm cubes should do the trick. Make sure you’ve rubbed some salt on the fish before cutting it up so that it takes the flavours up when you marinate it.
3. Add some Zing
The citrus is what “cooks” the fish. Making sure that there is enough lime juice to cover your fish is key for a successful ceviche, some use lemons or oranges as their acid base. The onions are also important. We advise that you sliver and soak them in ice cold water for 5 minutes and dry them before adding them in so that their flavour does not overpower the dish. Salt, coriander, chilli, garlic, salt and ginger are the punch of the dish and it’s really up to personal taste. Have fun with this and get creative!
4. Let it Marinate
You should allow at least 15 minutes for your fish to marinate or it will not absorb the lime juice and will be more sashimi then ceviche. However don’t marinate for more than 25 minutes because the acid will denature the proteins and your fish will fall apart.
5. Serve it fresh
Like the fish itself, your dish should be fresh. Prepare it just before you’re set to dine and serve it chilled. If you’re doing things properly, serve around the tangy leftover juice afterwards, they call it “tigers milk”, it’s a legendary hangover cure, alleged aphrodisiac and, certainly not for the faint-hearted.