But if you read up enough on how to use premium, sashimi-grade raw fish like salmon or tuna to make the delectable Peruvian dish of ceviche, the results can be wonderful.
The ubiquitous South American dish, which comprises fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices of lime and lemon and combined with chilli peppers, onion, salt and coriander, have been around for thousands of years.
I first came across this dish while watching a food programme on television and was completely intrigued by it.
Curiosity took over and I made my first batch using fresh lemon sole. I loved it for its tangy and bright characters.
You can be creative when making ceviche by adding various vegetables and fruits. Some people add olives and avocados for a Mediterranean flavour. I do not add tomatoes because from experience, it makes the ingredients soggy.
This recipe includes mango and bunga kantan (torch ginger flower), making it a vibrant appetiser with citrusy grapefruit vinaigrette drizzled over it for added tanginess. The orange zest and mango add another level of fruitiness. You can eat this on its own or pair it with some tortilla chips.
The acid from citrus juices cures and sort of “cooks” the fish. It creates a new layer of proteins and changes the colour and structure of the fish, making it firm and opaque after a few hours.
The acidic substance also alters the flavour and gives it tartness.
Other versions of ceviche come in the form of hinava, popular in Sabah, and the kinilaw, from the Philippines.
Aside from fish, ceviche can be made using prawns, but they must be cured a bit longer.
If you are not using sashimi-grade salmon and choose to use regular white fish like sole, snapper and halibut, I highly recommend soaking the fish for about four hours to make sure it is cured properly.
More importantly, you can have fun using your creativity with different flavours and ingredients.
(Serves six people)
33gm sashimi-grade salmon, diced into cubes
Juice of 1 ½ limes
Juice of ½ lemon
1 capsicum, diced
1 ripe mango, diced
1 red onion, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried dill
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons bunga kantan, finely chopped
3 sprigs coriander
1. Place cubes of salmon in a large bowl. Soak in citrus juices until everything is immersed in the liquid. Chill in refrigerator for at least two hours until fish turns opaque.
2. In a large bowl, add all ingredients and mix well.
3. Scatter cured fish and mix until well combined.
Juice of 1 grapefruit
Juice of 1 orange
2 cloves garlic
1 yellow onion
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon olive oil
1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.
2. Strain in a mesh sieve and drizzle over ceviche.
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