CEVICHE INSPIRED BY MARTHA ORTIZ
Martha my guest this week is so right that ceviche makes the most wonderful dinner party dish. It’s a feast for the eyes, it’s absolutely delicious, and it requires no cooking whatsoever. What could be easier?
Because really, the trick with dinner parties is, to make your life as easy as possible. All too often people try to pull out all the stops and whilst that’s lovely – you end up getting stressed and ruining the evening for yourself. You don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen whilst your friends chat and have fun without you. I’ve definitely hosted more than my fair share of dinner parties where everyone left and I felt like I had barely seen anyone and all I had done was worked my socks off in the kitchen. Of course – don’t get me wrong – there are times when all you want to do is hide in the kitchen, we’ve all used that excuse but hopefully that happens less at your own dinner parties.
So if you want to actually enjoy dinner parties that you throw then really your game plan should consist of making sure you make simple dishes, full of flavour that can either be cooked, or prepped in advance. I personally always like to get pudding made the day before, so at least if everything else goes wrong we can just eat pudding, which let’s face it, wouldn’t be the end of the world.
Throw into the mix a dish that doesn’t even need to be cooked. And well, hello. Ceviche requires not even the merest hint of an oven being preheated, nor a gas ring being lit. It couldn’t be simpler and yet it has all the appearance of being frightfully complicated…which let’s be honest is a bonus.
I would like to just interject Ceviche proceedings momentarily to remind you that when you’ve cooked something that is actually very simple, but people respond with wide eyes and gasps of awe and wonder…never, and I repeat…never tell them how easy it was. Simply smile, I throw in a little self-deprecating bow and a wipe of my brow and simply say I’m just so pleased you like it. This can be applied to things you bought and simply arranged. I wont tell if you don’t.
Back to the ceviche. If you have never eaten it, it’s typically made with fresh raw fish cured with citrus juices – whether that’s lemon or lime, orange, grapefruit etc. You can spice it up with chilli and garlic and lots of fresh herbs and mango or tomato if you like. It’s completely delicious – but as you are not cooking the fish – good quality fish is key and the fish must be fresh.
You don’t want to cure the fish too far ahead as the citrus takes effect on the fish and can leave it tasting sort of overcooked in a way if over marinated, so Martha suggests only adding the citrus about 20 minutes before you serve it.
But you can prepare it all in advance, get your mis en place ready and pretend you work in a restaurant or that you are about to do a live cookery demonstration and all your different ingredients are in their own little bowl and then as your guests arrive and are tucking into drinks you can start assembling and it’s as easy as that!
I am a strong advocate of the idea that first and foremost we eat with our eyes and so ceviche, for me, is a chance to get all arty and to make it look gorgeous which is so fun. So you can play around with garnishes edible flowers, micro herbs etc.
The key is to make sure your fish slices, or chunks are all the same size. That’s crucial with cooking in general whether it’s meat or fish – if you have differing sized chunks they will cook at different speeds and it’s no different for ceviche so that’s the only real thing to be aware of. I tend to prepare slices rather than chunks but that’s really a visual thing so go with what you fancy on that one.
Here is a very simple but fail safe recipe for ceviche
To serve 2
250g skinless and boneless firm white fish, I tend to opt for sea bream or sea bass. From the fish monger and fresh as you can get
½ tsp salt
juice of ¼ grapefruit
juice of ½ orange
juice of 2 limes
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
small bunch of coriander
½ avocado, diced
½ mango, diced
Cut the fish into equal sized slices or chunks
In a little bowl mix together the various citrus juices and add the chilli and leave for flavours to get to know one another
Then! When ready to serve, arrange your fish on a plate, sprinkle the salt over the top, leave for about a minute and then douse in the chilli citrus marinade. Let this sit for about 20 minutes and then serve.
Top with the diced mango and avocado and coriander leaves and take to the table.
Give it a go and let me know what you think