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Fish and Shellfish

Peruvian fish ceviche

Peruvian fish ceviche
Maria Alejandra Cardona / Los Angeles Times

As it turns out, the whole roasted guinea pig was not the most memorable dish from a recent trip to Peru and Ecuador. And it wasn’t the tree tomatoes or polka-dotted potatoes either. Of all the new foods I experienced ... Read more

Total time: 1 ½ hours, plus refrigeration time for the fish. | Serves 4 as a main dish; 6 to 8 as an appetizer

Fish preparation

  • 1 ¼ pounds white-fleshed, skinned fish fillets (preferably sushi-grade), such as rockfish (vermillion, ocean whitefish, tile fish), white seabass, yellowtail, black bass or a flat fish such as sole, sea bream, tai snapper or fluke

Step 1Salt and airdry the fish: Generously salt both sides of the fish fillets, about 1/2 teaspoon per ½-pound fillet. Place the fish on a rack set over a sheet pan and refrigerate, uncovered, to “sweat,” 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse the fish in cold water, and dry well. Refrigerate, on a rack, uncovered for at least 3 hours, up to overnight. (If holding more than 8 hours, cover the fish with cheesecloth).

Step 2Cut the fish: Cut the fillet strips lengthwise along the natural divisions so they are no more than 1 inch wide or high. Trim away any dark bits and ends, and save these for the Leche de Tigre (you will need 2 tablespoons). Cut each strip crosswise into ¼- to ½-inch thick pieces. Refrigerate until ready to make the ceviche (this step may be done 1 to 4 hours ahead).

Leche de tigre

  • 2 tablespoons Prepared coarsely-chopped white-fleshed fish fillets
  • 1 large clove garlic, quartered
  • 1 (½-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 pale green inner rib celery with leaves, about 6 inches, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped red onion, preferably from white-only “heart”
  • ¾ cup lime juice, (from about 6 Bearss limes or about 30 Mexican or key limes), divided
  • 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 5 ice cubes

Step 1Make the leche de tigre no more than three hours before preparing the ceviche. In a blender, combine the fish, garlic, ginger, celery, onion and ¼ cup of the lime juice and puree until the ingredients are well combined. With the blender running, add the salt, then very slowly pour in the remaining lime juice so the sauce emulsifies. With the blender still running, add the ice cubes a few at a time until the sauce is smooth and frothy. Use immediately, or refrigerate the leche de tigre for up to 3 hours.

Ceviche

  • 1 red onion (about 6 ounces)
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Prepared fish
  • 1 to 2 small hot chiles, such as fresno, rocoto, jalapeno or habanero, cut crosswise in very thin rings
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Ice cubes
  • Prepared Leche de tigre
  • Grilled sweet potatoes and corn, for garnish
  • 1 firm-ripe avocado, preferably Pinkerton or Fuerte variety, sliced or cubed
  • Toasted Ecuadorian or Peruvian corn, store-bought or homemade, for garnish
  • Aji amarillo table salsa or other hot sauce, for garnish

Step 1Deflame the onion: Cut the onion in half lengthwise. Cut one half into ¼-inch dice and place in bowl. Cut the remaining half crosswise into the thinnest possible slices and place in a separate bowl. Add 1 ½ teaspoons salt and 1 cup hot water to each bowl. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes. Rinse, pat dry and return the onions to their bowls.

Step 2Make and serve the ceviche: Just before serving, place the fish cubes, diced onion, chiles to taste and cilantro in a large non-reactive bowl. Add a handful of ice cubes to the leche de tigre and stir briefly to thicken the mixture and make it creamy. Discard the ice cubes. Pour leche de tigre over fish and toss together. This makes about 1 quart ceviche. Transfer the mixture to a shallow serving bowl, mounding the fish in the center. Place the grilled sweet potatoes, corn and cubes of avocado around the fish (or artfully fan avocado slices). Top the fish with a generous tangle of sliced onions. Alternatively, divide the ceviche, avocado, sweet potatoes, corn and sliced onions among individual shallow bowls. Serve cold and pass the remaining accompaniments separately.

Note: Leche de tigre adapted from a recipe in “The Fire of Peru” by Ricardo Zarate and Jenn Garbee. If desired, to “cook” the fish longer, leave it in the leche de tigre until the fish pieces become opaque and firm to the touch (timing will vary depending on the size and thickness of the pieces). To make the grilled sweet potatoes and corn, cut 1 or 2 scrubbed potatoes and 1 or 2 ears corn crosswise into 1 ½-inch rounds and cook in boiling salted water 3 to 5 minutes (the potatoes should be crisp-tender). Drain and pat dry. Toss the potatoes and corn with a little olive oil and salt. Grill untilnicely-browned and the potatoes are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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