Hmmm… I arrived back from Peru almost a month ago. The past four weeks have been a bit too whirlwind for me with barely a free moment to spend on àlaclaude. This post was drafted while in Peru – just after a private cooking lesson. I hope you enjoy my meandering thoughts
From February 24th:
Today I learned how to make ceviche.
The lesson began with a trip to the local mercado (‘market’ for us English folk!) to fetch the freshest of fresh ingredients. My mentor – Violeta – is a local Peruvian with a wealth of culinary tips, tricks and techniques.
Our first stop at the market is to see the fishmonger, of course. The young fellow working the stall didn’t seem so sure on how to clean the fish for us – so the senior monger came over from another stall. He stealthily picked the correct whole fish and begun filleting like a pro. On our way to the next stall, the fishmonger gave us a small bag of herbs, liquid chili peppers to help make our ceviche. Violeta politely took it and disposed of it at home – her homemade version would be much better.
Next on the list is the vegetable merchant. We picked up half of a cassava (yuca in Español), a few sweet potatoes, fresh cilantro, a few red onions, chilis, a few fresh cobs of corn and some dried and roasted corn kernels.
A quick stop by the last merchant by the exit for some spice packets and we were back on our way home.
Once back at in the kitchen, we set a few pots of water to boil for the peeled yuca, halved sweet potato and corn cobs medallions. The sweet potato and corn waters were gently sweetened with about a tablespoon of raw sugar while the yuca water was generously salted. All was set to boil and the ceviche took our attention.
The fishmonger did us a great favour and pre-diced a kilogram of fish. A quick wash and the rest was ready to go. About a dozen limes were juiced into a strainer (no seeds, please!) over the cubed fish and mixed with a a packet of Doña Gusta seasoning and a generous tablespoon of pink Peruvian salt. Covered with plastic wrap and into the fridge. Now on to the red onions. The hearts were discarded (they’re a bit strong and harsh) and the rest were very thinly sliced and soaked in cold water to remove some of the bite.
About 10 minutes later, everything seemed to come together at once. The yuca, sweet potato and corn were ready. Yuca sliced into wedges and sweet potato sliced into chunks. Time to start plating! The idea is to have four quadrants around the ceviche – yuca, corn medallions, roasted corn and sweet potatoes. Now back to the ceviche.
We pulled the marinating fish out of the fridge, tossed it with the drained red onions, added finely chopped cilantro and another half packet of seasoning. The ceviche was finished off with a touch (about a 1/2 cup) of water to cut the acidity. Stir in some thinly sliced chilis and we’re set to serve!
A generous scoop was added to the plated dishes and lunch was served. The lesson was very informative as Violetta showed me how her mom always did things. I am eager to repeat my private lesson and try my hand a ceviche – but, I’m less confident I’d find the same fresh-from-the-ocean options in land-locked Winnipeg!