I was challenged to a ceviche competition this week which was great since I have never made it before. So what does any chef do with a new challenge, google!
For whatever reason, ceviche has never been too much on my radar. I have eaten plenty however would not call myself an expert or connoisseur by any means. With a little research and help determining the freshest catch from my fish monger, I managed to come up with, of course, my version of ceviche.
The part I am leaving out here is the competition had me up against a born and raised Panamanian who not only loves ceviche but has been eating and cooking it his whole life. Let’s just say there wasn’t much competition here but the takeaway was that I learned a lot and was able to compare notes with an expert when it was all said and done.
Let’s start with the tips and tricks I learned. Good ceviche depends on several crucial points. You will hear many ways, times and ingredients to use in ceviche but remember where this dish originates… the coast of Peru which always leads me back to “fresh” and simple.
1. Start with the freshest fish you can find.
This is by far the most important step. I have always lived close to a coast where finding the daily catch isn’t hard. If you do not have access to essentially sushi grade fish I recommend making the shrimp version of ceviche and par-cooking it prior in order to kill any pathogens or bacteria. This still makes a delicious ceviche.
2. The type of fish matters.
After sourcing the freshest fish you will then want to determine if it is ceviche ready. This means that your chances of the citrus “cooking” the fish will be relatively easy based on the density of the fish. For example, a traditional ceviche fish like sea bass is a firm, light, white fish that citrus and flavor can easily penetrate but wont break down too quickly. Technically you can make ceviche out of any fresh seafood, I have eaten octopus and scallop ceviche before which were wonderful. For this days fish pick, I tried kingfish, which is a type of mackerel, based on the fish mongers suggestion of the freshest catch that day.
3. Marination or “cooking” should not be epic.
We are talking 10 minutes to maximum 3 hours. Ideally ceviche start to finish process is short – purchasing fresh fish, keeping on ice, and preparing as soon as possible. This allows for a shorter marination time because of the guaranteed freshness of the fish.
4. To “sear” or “cook”?
The smaller the pieces, the better the chance of the citrus penetrated and cooking the fish through is greater. With sushi grade fish there is no harm in having a slightly larger bite that essentially looks seared – citrus turns the outside of the fish white and maintains a slightly raw center. This is a personal preference and completely up to you. I land somewhere in the middle.
Note: the citrus marinate should not be soup. Your fish should be coated but not swimming, tossing it several times to ensure even coating.
Let’s be real, the view overshadowed my dish and that’s fine by me!
Here was my take on ceviche
Tigers milk / marinade
- 1 cup lime juice
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- 2 oz fish
- ½ cup red onion roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- cilantro stems
- 1 small ½” piece of ginger
- ¼ tsp Scotch Bonnet Pepper Powder
- 2 tbsp of kosher or sea salt
- 3-4 ice cubes
Blend the tigers milk ingredients and place in the fridge.
Slice the fish into ½” cubes.
Add the fish to a bowl and combine, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and ½ tbsp salt, coat with tigers milk. Cover and set in the fridge on ice.
In the meantime, toss the corn with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp Wah Gwan®. Air fry or bake on 300° for 10 minutes or until crispy but not burnt. Set aside and cool.
Let the ceviche sit for anywhere between 10 minutes to 3 hours, (see tips above) tossing every 10 minutes or more.
Toss the ceviche from the fridge and add cilantro leaves, and salt to taste.
In a cold bowl, spoon the ceviche and a little juice from the bowl and top with microgreens, toasted Wah Gwan® corn, G Salt, dust with Wah Gwan® and a drizzle of olive oil.