Special occasions are always a bit of a balancing act with me. Obviously the first thing I want to do to celebrate - whether it be birthday, new flat, new job or Valentine's day - always involves food, either out or cooking. I have to remind myself that not everyone's obsessed with food like I am and so they may just want to have a drink or even, perish the thought, do something that doesn't involve the ingestion of solids or alcoholic liquids.
As you're all aware the most recent occasion was Valentine's day. I'm not a big one for going OTT for this, no big presents or bunches of roses, although I'm happy to acknowledge its existence and happy to use it as an excuse for some nice food with the better half. Speaking with her she mentioned she'd like a pisco sour and some ceviche, memories of our last holiday, probably because the new screen saver at home pops up image after image from our Peru holiday and we both end up sat staring at that rather than watching the TV blaring away next to it. I looked up the local South American restaurant (Sabor in Islington - definitely worth a visit) but they'd taken the set menu route, without these dishes, so I decided to make it at home instead. The lack of cooking making it perfect for the evening as I wouldn't spend all my time in the kitchen.
Back when I first spoke of ceviche I did prepare some to write about on the post too. I followed a recipe from a book I bought in Peru, alas what they translate to limes are actually a thing called a limon (I think) which although small and green is nowhere near as sour as our limes. Due to this the recipe I made was completely inedible and so I spared the write up. I was not going to be caught out twice though so checked out a recipe in a South American book that a friend of mine Kavey (who with her mum Mamta run the fantastic Mamta's Kitchen website) kindly bought me. The recipe for ceviche in this used a mixture of the juice of two lemons and one lime so I used this as my starting point, and as pisco sours also use the same citrus juice I extracted six lemons and three limes' worth.
Ceviche is simple stuff - just fish, red onion and chilli in citrus - so I didn't bother with a recipe, just making it up as I go along. Here it is though.
Mahi Mahi and King Prawn Ceviche, for 2 hungry people.
200gr of king prawns, either cooked or raw
250gr Mahi Mahi (or any other firm white fish)
1 small red onion
1 red chilli
1/2 small pack of coriander
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper
Lettuce, cold boiled potatoes, cold boiled yuca/cassava and cold boiled corn on the cob
This is a real simple one to make. I boiled the spuds, yuca and corn on the cob the night before leaving in the fridge until ready to use.
For the ceviche, if using raw prawns, simply poach for a couple of minutes till cooked and allow to cool.
Cube the fish (1.5cm - 2cm), finely dice the onion and chilli, chop the coriander, juice the lemons and lime then stick them all in a bowl with the prawns and some S&P and leave for 30 mins to an hour. Stir occasionally so all the fish spends some time at the bottom in the liquid. As you can see in the top photo the acid in the citrus juice will denature the proteins in the fish so although it is raw it will take on the opaque look of cooked fish.
When ready lay out some lettuce, place the ceviche on top (check the seasoning first) and then stick your cold veg around the outside.
This turned out really well, tart from the marinade but balanced nicley with the sweetness of the fish and prawns. The onion, chilli and coriander adding crunch, heat and flavour. Cold boiled spuds and corn are far better than they sound too.
For the pisco sour (which sits in the background of the photo above) stick 4 parts pisco, 1 part lemon/lime juice, 1 part sugar and a little egg white in a shaker with some ice. Shake till combined and starting to froth up (that's where the egg white comes in) before straining into a glass. Decorate with a few drops of angostura bitters - which I didn't. This is a fairly punchy drink so you can tone it down by using 3 parts pisco instead.
If you've never made ceviche before give it a go, it's a dish that deserves to be better known outside of South America.