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Haven't you always wanted to make a dish that required Leche De Tigre? Well, in this Peruvian ceviche recipe, you can.
Leche de Tigre
- 1 tablespoon (packed) chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 ají limo or habanero chile, seeded, halved lengthwise
- 1/2 small red onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup bottled clam juice (optional)
- 1 small sweet potato (about 8 ounces)
- 1/2 ají limo or habanero chile, seeded, halved lengthwise
- 1 pound fluke, flounder, or sole, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 small red onion, quartered and thinly sliced, divided
Leche de Tigre
Set a fine-mesh sieve over a small bowl. Purée first 4 ingredients and 4 large ice cubes in a blender until smooth. Add onion; pulse 3–4 times. Strain liquid into a medium bowl. Stir in clam juice, if desired; season with salt. Cover and chill.
Pour water into a large pot fitted with a steamer basket to a depth of 1 inch; bring to a boil. Add sweet potato, cover, and cook until just fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a plate; let cool.
Meanwhile, add more water to same pot, if needed, to measure 1 inch; bring to a boil. Add ear of corn to pot and steam until crisp-tender, 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a plate; let cool completely.
Halve potato lengthwise. Using a small melon baller, scoop out potato balls and place them in a small bowl; set aside. Cut kernels from cob. Reserve 1/3 cup kernels (save extra kernels for another use).
Rub a large bowl with cut sides of chile; discard. Place fluke, 2/3 of onion, leche de tigre, and 4 large ice cubes in bowl; stir well. Let marinate for 2 minutes; remove ice. Fold in potato and corn; season with salt.
Using a slotted spoon, divide ceviche into small bowls or onto plates. Drizzle ceviche with leche de tigre from bowl; garnish with remaining onion and cilantro.
Nutritional Content5 servings, 1 contains: Calories (kcal) 160 Fat (g) 1.5 Saturated Fat (g) 0 Cholesterol (mg) 45 Carbohydrates (g) 18 Dietary Fiber (g) 2 Total Sugars (g) 4 Protein (g) 19 Sodium (mg) 380Reviews SectionSince the author of this recipe is Peruvian and an ambassador for Peruvian cuisine, I think it's safe to say this is authentic (to him?). Would rate a 4 or 5 but giving it 5 stars to balance out the last review since it seemed biased and not based on the recipe. Regardless of the type of ceviche you've tried, I think you'll enjoy this one. Super flavorful, with great balance of flavor and textures. I'd agree with the note about spiciness.AnonymousLos Angeles, CA08/05/20Yikes. Cultural Appropriation at it's finest? Corn and Sweet potato are typically served on the side. No garlic. I suppose Bon Appetit has never been much for being authentic when it comes to international cuisine. I spent 2 years in Peru, never have I ever seen this served.maevechristina3Massachusetts06/16/20After spending a week in Peru, decided to attempt making Peruvian ceviche at home. This turned out great! Will definitely make again. As written the recipe isn't all that spicy, but more diced chiles can be added to adjust for your spice preferences.AnonymousWashington, DC12/26/19
Delicious to eat and attractive to present, Peruvian ceviche is one of the best known South American recipes in the world. It is simple to prepare your own Peruvian ceviche at home and, if you follow a few simple steps, you will have a fresh dish of intense flavours recalling all the warmth of Latin American countries. Here are the step by step instructions for making a perfect Peruvian ceviche!
Photo: Claudia Concas
Wash the amberjack. Gut and fillet the fish, carefully removing the skin and bones.
Peruvian ceviche is a raw fish dish that is now celebrated around the world.
How to make ceviche?
Ceviche is a raw fish dish that is prepared with very fresh fish, that is cured in citrus juices. In Peru, it is prepared with aji or other hot peppers, and is complemented with additional seasonings that may include red onion, cilantro, garlic and salt. Peruvian ceviche (ceviche peruano) is traditionally served with sweet potato, thick slices of corn on the cob on a bed of lettuce, and can sometimes be accompanied with plantains or avocado.
The juice of the marinade is called leche de tigre (tiger’s milk) or leche de pantera. It is considered an aphrodisiac delicacy. It is totally acceptable to raise your plate with your hands and put it in your mouth to drink this liquid delicacy. And just like pickle juice is used in martinis in the United States, leche de tigre can be mixed with vodka or Pisco for a typical cocktail.
What is the origin of ceviche?
Ceviche first appeared 2000 years ago as this recipe was already prepared by the Moche, a Northern Peruvian civilization who used the fermented juice of banana passionfruit to cure the fish. Later, the Incas marinated the fish in chicha, a fermented drink typically made with corn. Raw fish was also prepared with salt and aji before the Spanish brought citrus to Latin America.
The modern version of ceviche was actually brought to Peru by Moorish women from Granada (south of Spain) who arrived with Spanish conquistadors. The Moor-influenced cooks introduced a dish called sei-vech, that was prepared with fish or meat marinated in the juice of Ceuta lemons, which they brought from North Africa and started planting in the New World.
Ceviche spread through the other territories of the Viceroyalty of Peru, which included most of the Spanish-ruled America between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, which explains why ceviche now has a multitude of regional variants in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala, the United States, Mexico, Panama as well as throughout the Caribbean.
The variants of ceviche around the world
It is also popular under different names throughout the South Pacific. In the Philippines, a version of the ceviche known as kinilaw (or kilawin) is prepared with calamansi, a local citrus. In Fiji, kokoda is prepared with coconut milk in addition to the more common ceviche ingredients.
In Peru, traditional ceviche is prepared with corvina or cebo (sea bass), but it is also often prepared with sole, cod or halibut, a fish which is popular in Chile.
In Ecuador, people add tomato sauce to shrimp ceviche for a tangy taste.
In Mexico and some regions of Central America, ceviche is often served on top of tostadas. Popular seafood include shrimp, octopus, squid, tuna, and mackerel.
In El Salvador and Nicaragua, the most popular recipe is ceviche de concha negra (black conch ceviche), which is also popular in Mexico under the name pata de mula (mule’s foot).
In Nicaragua and Costa Rica, people traditionally use tilapia, corvina, mahi-mahi, shark or marlin.
In Panama, ceviche is mostly made with sea bass, octopus, shrimp, and squid. Like Mexicans with their tostadas, Panamanians serve their ceviche with little pastry shells called canastitas.
In Cuba, ceviche is prepared with mahi-mahi, as well as squid and tuna.
In Puerto Rico and other places in the Caribbean, the dish is prepared with coconut milk, just like in Fijian kokoda
In The Bahamas and South Florida, conch salad is the ceviche of choice.
In the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam (Micronesia), kelaguen is another type of ceviche popular among the Chamorro people. Kelaguen can be prepared with fish or meat, like chicken kelaguen that we already featured.
What is the origin of the word ceviche?
The origin of the word ceviche is not very clear. Some think the origin of the Spanish word cebiche comes from the Latin word cibus, which translates to “food for men and animals”. Other sources indicate it may come from the Spanish-Arabic word assukkabáǧ, which comes from the Arabic word sakbāj (سكباج) and means “meat cooked in vinegar”. It may also come from the word escabeche, Spanish for pickle. In Spanish, the dish has several regional spellings, including cebiche, ceviche, seviche, as well as less common spellings like cerbiche and serviche.
In Peru, June 28th marks national ceviche day. The dish has even been declared to be part of Peru’s national heritage.
This recipe is validated by our Peruvian culinary expert Morena Cuadra, author of culinary blog Peru Delights.
- 1 pound fresh ocean fish such as sea bass, grouper, or striped bass, cut into 1/4-inch slices (see note)
- 1/2 cup lemon, lime, or sour orange juice, or a combination
- 1 small red onion, finely sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, ribs and seeds removed, rinsed, and finely minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine fish, juice, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño in a large bowl and gently fold with your hands to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow to marinate for at least 5 minutes, folding occasionally. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately with boiled corn and sweet potatoes, if desired.
How to Make Tiradito (Peruvian Ceviche)
One of the many joys of Peruvian cuisine is the beautiful way in which it has melded with the foods of immigrants. Nikkei cooking, for example, is Japanese-Peruvian food, the result of a 19-century influx of Japanese migrants to Peru. Peruvian food has influenced the way Japanese food is cooked there, and Japanese food has changed how Peruvians cook. The results are damn delicious.
One fun example is tiradito, which combines elements of ceviche and sashimi in a single dish. Ceviche typically involves "cooking" raw fish in an acidic marinade. One doesn't make ceviche and serve it right away it's better to wait about 15 minutes until the fish has turned more opaque, and the exterior of each small piece has taken on a partially cooked consistency.
Compare that to Japanese sashimi. While some species like mackerel are cured or seared, many are served completely raw—no heat, no acid, no lengthy salt-curing process. And unlike ceviche's smaller chunks of fish, sashimi is often cut into larger rectangular slices. When served, it's adorned minimally, with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger on the side.
Tiradito marries the two traditions. Like sashimi, the fish is cut into large slices and spends no time curing before being served. But like ceviche, it's served with a tart, spicy citrus-chili marinade known as leche de tigre (tiger's milk . . . you know, because it's got enough attitude to make you go RAWR).
Some tiradito recipes call for infusing the leche de tigre with pieces of fish and then straining them out and discarding them. This brings it closer to the sauce that comes with a ceviche, in which fish juices have mingled with the marinade. I did not do this for my tiradito recipe, though, since it requires sacrificing some of your (likely pricey) fish to the marinade for what amounts to a nice, but nonessential, step. If you want to do this, though, you can just soak some fish pieces in the lime juice for 15 or 20 minutes before straining them out and continuing with the recipe (you can, of course, eat those fish pieces in the kitchen, so that they're not totally wasted). If you're working with a whole fish and filleting it yourself, this infusion step becomes much easier since you'll definitely have scraps.
Tiradito sauces come in many flavors, but the most classic features lime juice and a purée made from Peruvian ají amarillo peppers, which have an incredible floral aroma and a decently spicy kick. It varies from pepper to pepper, but it tends to be hotter than your average jalapeño but not nearly as hot as a habanero.
There are a couple ways to get ají amarillo paste in locales where the fresh peppers aren't available. Easiest is to buy a jar of the purée at a market that sells Peruvian ingredients. Better is to make it yourself from frozen whole ají amarillo peppers. The from-frozen stuff has a more complex flavor that captures more of the pepper's natural floral and fruity notes the jarred option is good, but some of ají amarillo's charms are snuffed out in the canning process. Making your own with frozen peppers is as easy as boiling the peppers for 10 minutes, removing their stems and seeds (and, if you want to be more finicky about it, their skins, too), and then liquifying the flesh in a blender with just enough water to get it moving.
Beyond that, the leche de tigre for tiradito goes like this: Blend fresh lime juice with garlic and some fresh ginger, mix in enough of the ají amarillo paste to give the sauce a punch of chili heat and enough viscosity that it doesn't just flow like water on the plate. Some freshly minced cilantro can go in at the end.
In Peru, the fish is typically white-fleshed, something along the lines of corvina or fluke. Pictured here, though, are salmon and yellowtail (hamachi in Japanese), which are common substitutes, at least here in North America. The important thing is to get fish that you can serve as sashimi your selection will depend heavily on where you live.
On the side, you might add some choclo (a type of large, white Peruvian corn) or some thick rounds of cooked sweet potato, both of which are traditional tiradito accompaniments. Neither is necessary, though: Tiradito is, at its heart, a dish open to interpretation. It was born of cultures colliding and being flexible enough to embrace each other. Setting its presentation in stone cuts against that spirit.
What Is Peruvian Food Like?
Peru has been one of the hearts of commerce in South America for thousands of years. Its unique landscape and collection of micro-climates have forced its ancient societies to adapt and innovate in order to keep its populations fed. This agricultural engineering is on display in many places across the country including the terraced fields of Maras in the Sacred Valley.
But if you&rsquore wondering &lsquowhat is Peruvian food like?&rsquo Well, the answer can be complicated. And it&rsquos mostly based on where in Peru you are. Peruvian cuisine can most easily be sectioned into three areas. Food from seaside towns in Peru such as the capital of Lima, food from the mountain regions such as Cusco, the capital of the Incan empire, and food from the Peruvian Amazon region.
No matter where you visit in Peru, there are a few staples that you&rsquoll find on the menu. Potatoes, obviously come straight to mind, and with over 4,000 varieties across the country, it&rsquos no surprise why. Corn is also common. Not just steamed and buttered either. Corn is used in making many of the wraps, tortillas, and shells that you&rsquoll find throughout Peru.
But one interesting adaptation in Peruvian cuisine over the past two centuries has been the influx of Asian influence. This has led to one of my favorite types of Peruvian foods, Chifa cuisine. This blend of Chinese and Peruvian influences can be found in most cities from Lima to Puno, and it should be on your list of things to try when you&rsquore in the country.
There is also a popular food in Peru that many visitors might not expect. Cuy, is something that you&rsquoll either want to try, or want to stay away from. It really depends on how you feel about Guinea Pigs. These cute fluffy creatures have been a gourmet dish in many countries in western South America. And when you explore the countless Incan ruins scattered throughout Peru, you&rsquoll almost always find a narrow room with holes placed near the ground. This is where Guinea Pigs were raised for millennia.
Place the onions in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan and pour in enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and remove from the heat. Strain and set aside the onions.
Combine the vinegar, black pepper, cumin, oregano, garlic, sugar, salt and beet in the saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 7 minutes. Add the blanched onions and gently simmer an additional 7 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a container, cover and refrigerate at least a day before serving. This makes about 2 1/2 cups pickled onions, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. Pickled onions will keep in the refrigerator up to a month.
Susan Feniger calls this ceviche &ldquoan ambassador to the exotic flavors of Peru.&rdquo She serves it in a crispy corn tortilla cone on the Border Grill Truck, and on a bed of plantain chips at Border Grill restaurants in downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Las Vegas.
Pickled Red Onions:
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 beet, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 8 wedges
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon roughly chopped cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 pound skinless, boneless sustainable fish such as halibut, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 aji amarillo chile, stem and seeds removed, minced
- 1 jalapeño, stem and seeds removed, diced
- 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons aji amarillo paste
- Salt, to taste
- Plantain chips or tortilla chips, for garnish
- Sliced avocado, for garnish
To make the pickled onions, place the onions in a medium saucepan and pour in enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and remove from the heat. Strain and set the onions aside. Combine the beets, vinegar, pepper, cumin, oregano, garlic, sugar, and salt in the saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 10 minutes. Add the blanched onions and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a container, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 day before serving.
To make the ceviche, combine the fish and enough lime juice to cover in a bowl. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Drain fish, reserving 1/4 cup of lime juice. Combine fish with reserved lime juice, onion, cilantro, aji amarillo chile, jalapeño, ginger, olive oil, aji amarillo paste and season to taste with salt. Stir gently to combine. Chill thoroughly.
To serve, garnish with plantain chips or tortilla chips, pickled onions, and slices of avocado.
How to make "Ceviche Peruano"
There are many different ways of making ceviche in fact, many countries from Latin America have their particular variations. For example, the Ecuadorian ceviche traditionally includes shrimps.
The main elements that we must have clear when cooking it Peruvian style are the necessary ingredients, the fish we must use and how to prepare Leche de Tigre (tiger's milk).
In the following lines, you have a recipe based on the first Peruvian elaboration according to the Peruvian chef Roberto Sihuay.
1. What fish do we use?
One of the first questions we face when preparing this recipe is with what fish is "Ceviche Peruano" made, as it is the main ingredient of this dish. Using one fish or another is one of the essential elements that will contribute the recipe to come out perfect or not.
First of all, we must be clear that the raw material must be of quality. When it comes to choosing the fish we have to keep in mind some quality related recommendations and the freshness of the product so as not to endanger our health.
It's true that this dish is prepared in many different ways in different countries from South America, as we previously said however, the most suitable fish is corvina. This is the classic product used by Peruvians, and the result is always delicious.
Other fish that we can use are sea bass, tuna, salmon and even perch however, corvina has the perfect characteristics so that our recipe is the most similar as possible as the Peruvian original dish.
2. Ingredients (for ceviche and Leche de Tigre)
For a ceviche recipe for two people you will need the following ingredients:
160 gr of filet of corvina
The head and the rest of the corvina (for the fish broth)
Lemon drop pepper to your liking (or a substitute)
10 gr of normal or red onion
For the fish seasoning use salt, Leche de Tigre (tiger's milk) elaborated with the previous ingredients and lime juice to your liking. In the final garnish use 50 gr of toasted chulpe corn, 50 gr of choclo (Peruvian corn), 30 gr of sweet potato or manioc, and 40 gr of red onion.
All the ingredients of our ceviche recipe can be replaced by similar products that we can find in the nearest shops for example, the lemon drop peppers can be replaced by chili peppers and both kind of corns we can replace them with classic toasted corn.
Fish waste is the part of the fish that we do not use to eat. In our case, we will use fish waste as a necessary product to make Leche de Tigre.
3. How to cut the fish
Cutting the fish properly is one of the most important steps. The expert Peruvian cooks make this recipe with the back of the corvina, that is the central part of the filet, but in our case, we can use the entire filet if we remove the bones and the dark parts of it.
The correct way to prepare the fish is to cut the corvina in half and remove all the bones and other waste parts from the filet. Then cut each one of the halves successively to end up obtaining cubes of fish of 1 centimeter of thickness approximately. Once we have the dice cut, we will keep them fresh with some crushed ice.
One of the most important recommendations to keep in mind is to cut the fish cleanly. To do this we will need a sharp knife that cuts correctly: Secondly we should not touch or squash the fish too much the less we touch it, the better.
4. Preparation of Leche de Tigre
Leche de Tigre (tiger's milk) is essential for the fish ceviche recipe. This sauce is one of the souls of the traditional dish, and its right preparation will be crucial to obtain a result as similar as possible to the Peruvian original.
The first thing you have to do is prepare a fish broth with the clean head of the corvina. To make this broth, you just need to boil the head with some water in a pan for 30 minutes at low heat.
When you have the fish broth strained and cooled, put it in a container, where you will add the waste of the fish that has been left over previously, the ginger cut in slices, the garlic and the celery, the pepper (or the chili pepper), the branches of cut coriander and the onion. All these ingredients will be crushed well and then strained to obtain Leche de Tigre.
5. Season the dish
Let the ceviche rest with a little ice so that it does not lose its original shape or texture. Add a little salt on top to start the seasoning.
Then carefully stir the fish and add a little pepper, the Leche de Tigre and the lime juice. It is advisable not to squeeze the lime excessively so that the juice is not bitter.
It is important to stir the fish dice without squashing them: corvina is the main ingredient of the dish, and it should have its natural structure until it is served.
Keep tasting the fish to verify that it is well of salt and lime. The final taste of ceviche should be a harmonious mixture between salty, bitter for the lime and spicy for the pepper.
6. Final garnish
For the final garnish, add the toasted or fried chulpe corn and the choclo corn boiled with sugar, lime juice and a bit of aniseed.
To finish, add the sweet potato or manioc, and the onion, which will complement the dish and they will give strength and personality to the whole preparation.
Here you have a video where you can follow how to make "Ceviche peruano."
Sakanari, J. A. McKerrow, J. H. (1989). Anisakiasis. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. American Society for Microbiology. 2 (3): 278–284.
Zapata Acha, S. (2006). Diccionario de gastronomía peruana tradicional (1st ed.). Lima, Perú: Universidad San Martín de Porres.
Ingredients for Peruvian Ceviche
- 1 ½ pounds very fresh and high-quality fish filets (corvina, halibut, escolar, hamachi, mahi-mahi, flounder).
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced.
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice from about 15-20 Peruvian limes.
- 1-2 hot peppers (aji Limo is the traditional pepper used in Peru), cut in half, without seeds and deveined.
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh cilantro.
- salt to taste.
- Pepper to taste.
Now let’s take a look at how to put it together.
Step 1: First cut the fish into small cubes, place in a glass bowl and cover with cold water and 1 tablespoon of salt, cover and refrigerate while you prepare the onions and juice the limes.
Step 2: Up next, rub the thin onion slices with 1/2 tablespoon of salt and rinse in cold water and rinse the fish to remove the salt. Next up place the cubes of fish, half of the sliced onions, and hot peppers in a glass bowl and pour the lime juice over the ingredients. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt.
Step 3: Cover and refrigerate for about 5-15 minutes, remove the cilantro sprigs and the hot peppers from the mix (If you like spicy food then leave the peppers in).
Stage 4: Taste the fish ceviche and add additional salt if needed. Serve immediately with your choice of sides and garnishes.
There you have it, a quick and simple way to make a Peruvian classic.
Be sure to try it out and taste for yourself. If you want to know anything more about Peru, Cusco and Machu Picchu Travel or its Cuisine, check out the rest of our blog posts at Peru Travel Blog and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for our special packages.
If you wish to include a Peruvian ceviche tasting in any of our Peru tour packages please let us know and we can make that happen. We received dozens of culinary travel groups every year and put together a personalized itinerary to visit some of the best ceviche restaurants in Lima.
Peruvian fish ceviche
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 during my recent travels, it’s the ceviches that stand out. Familiar, yet so unlike the more common “long-cooked” Baja-beach style ceviche, the dish became a gateway to cuisines that are predominantly a blend of indigenous (notably Quechuan) and Spanish colonial culinary traditions.
Peru is known for its sashimi-like ceviches, and Lima is the epicenter. Cevicherias serve it up fast, and some chefs create more complex versions at high-end restaurants. In ceviche’s most basic form, cubes of fresh local fish, red onion, and thin rings of aji (Arawak for chile) are tossed with leche de tigre, a briny emulsion of lime, spices and fish, moments before it is served. It is traditionally accompanied by chunks of boiled sweet potato or yuca and indigenous large-kernel corn nestled in the juices and by aji amarillo, the vivid yellow-orange table salsa made from the Andean pepper of the same name, and toasted dried corn, the inspiration for our “corn nuts.”
By contrast, Ecuadorian fish ceviches are milder, more fully cooked in lime and sometimes served with white rice. And I was surprised to discover the Ecuadorian ceviche vegetariano, an umami-laden bowlful of mushrooms, lupin beans, avocado, bits of tomato and fresh hearts of palm in a refreshing lime broth. It was accompanied, as are all Ecuadorian ceviches, by plantain and yuca chips and, best of all, popcorn. This may be popcorn’s true calling: salty, crunchy, chewy, yet permeable enough to absorb ceviche’s zesty juices.
I returned home inspired by how the ancient Quechuan attention to provenance — foods from Mamaqucha, the Incan goddess of the waters, and Pachamama, goddess of the land — influenced contemporary cooking, and I decided to host a fish- and plant-based ceviche party.
Which ingredients from nearby farmers’ markets and stores would remain a taste memory? Romeo Coleman of Coleman Family Farms grows huacatay, Peru’s national herb (in the aster family but also called black mint), and Weiser Family Farms’ Alex Weiser’s first crop of yellow chiles is due in fall. Peruvian chef Ricardo Zarate of Rosaliné in West Hollywood directed me to El Camaguey market in Culver City, where I found frozen and dried aji amarillo, rocoto and panco peppers Andean corn and superior canned hearts of palm (fresh are an air-shipped luxury here.)
Finding quality seafood for sashimi-style ceviche will be the hardest part, says sustainable-seafood expert Michael Cimarusti, chef-owner of Providence, Cape Seafood and Il Pesce Cucina. “Stay as local as possible it’s your best hope of getting fresh enough fish.” Look for bright-eyed, glistening whole fish or translucent fillets with bright red, not oxidized, bloodlines and a fresh smell. Always keep it well-chilled. “Fresh” is actually one to two days post-catch, according to Cape Seafood fishmonger Ehder Dominguez, to allow the fish to “settle into its flavor” and texture.
Choose a firm-fleshed fish that isn’t too assertive. Rockfish (vermillion, ocean whitefish, tile fish), white seabass and yellowtail are good West Coast seasonal choices, says Sarah Rathbone, Los Angeles co-founder of the Dock to Dish network of sustainable seafood advocates. Alaskan halibut and cod are fine but not those from California, she cautions they turn mushy in acid. For an East Coast ceviche, Cimarusti suggests black bass or flat fish (sole, sea bream, tai snapper, fluke) and recommends salting the fish to plump it before using, an optional but worthwhile step.
Leche de tigre does more than “cook” the fish once it’s brought to the table. The protein-rich blend heightens ceviche’s savoriness. It’s blended with ice cubes to make it colder and creamier and to calm the lime’s acidity.
To translate Pachamama ceviche to North American crops, use local ingredients that offer a mix of textures and hold their color and shape in acidic juices: firm-ripe Fuerte or Pinkerton avocados, fresh shiitake caps (avoid portobellos), dense vegetables such as cauliflower or carrots, and bean varieties such as flageolet, navy, white tepary and tarbe (cassoulet), as well as edamame or young favas.
For my ceviche party, I made three Peruvian salsas: sweet-spicy pluot-chile one-ingredient aji amarillo (or other mild to moderately hot chiles) and huacatay (or amaranth or nettles), the nutty earthiness of which goes perfectly with summer new potatoes and guacamole. I stocked up on Andean snack foods and popped some corn. I grilled, instead of boiled, the sweet potato and summer corn for the fish ceviche and chilled beer and bone-dry gruner Grüner Veltliner and Basque txakoli wines.
I didn’t nearly replicate a Lima moment or Andean afternoon. But I believe I had Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez’s blessing for my Cal-Peru-Ecuador olio. When Martinez, who is chef-owner of Central Restaurante in Lima, visited Weiser Family Farms in Tehachapi last May, I asked him what SoCal cooks could substitute for hard-to-find South American ingredients. “Use that,” the chef said, gesturing to the surrounding fields and nearby hills. “Use what you have in your own ecosystems.” He was right. The best way to translate a culinary adventure is to keep it local.