Hello my foodie friends!
I’m popping by with a short post about… Ceviche!
I tried this dish in Oxford last year, at one the Saturday Farmer’s Markets.
Ceviche is a seafood dish popular in Central and South America, and is typically made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with chili peppers. Additional seasonings, such as chopped onions, salt, and coriander, may also be added.
To be honest, I had no idea what it was when I ordered it. I knew I had heard of it before, but I couldn’t remember what it was exactly. Without wifi/3G to do a quick Google search, I decided to just go ahead and try it. (All I could get out of the food server was that it was fish. He couldn’t really speak/understand English)
He was very enthusiastic about sharing about how the dish was made, and he showed me each and every step, telling me the ingredients that he was adding.
So in went some fresh fish which he seasoned with a generous amount of salt. It looked like he eyeballed around 2 teaspoons. The salt helps to kill some bacteria I think! Then he added pepper and about 4-5 tablespoons of lemon juice. (Good thing I like sour things).
He then topped it with fresh red chillies and red onions. And then he added some sweet potatoes, finishing off with plantain chips and corn nuts at the side! He garnished the dish with with coriander aka cilantro.
And then he handed the dish to me with a big smile.
I was quite shocked. I think my face must have shown it. I was expecting him to grill the fish or bake it or cook it in some way… I guess not! Haha.
But it was a really interesting experience watching him make it. He was so excited to expose me to his food culture and I was equally eager to learn.
It was rather steep, and cost me 5 pounds. (~SGD10) But then again, given the freshness of the food, it was so worth it.
And guess what? The Ceviche was AMAZING. The texture was rough and chewy, with a slightly firmer bite than smoked salmon. The colour was translucent since the lemon juice ‘cooked’ the fish partially.
Despite the amount of salt used, I couldn’t taste the saltiness and it was paired nicely with the lemon juice and with the spicy and sharp flavours from the chilli and red onion.
The textures were perfectly matched… with the crunch veggies, plantain chips and nuts and the chewy fish and soft sweet potatoes.
I’m still amazed by it. I’m so glad I tried a new dish from a new culture.
Now this is real food.
This experience has taught me to be open-minded and willing to try new food from other cultures. I had so much fun learning from him, and he seemed so joyful talking to me about his national dish! He’s from Peru, so they have lots of fresh fish there, and they’ve created this amazing dish using all natural ingredients. I’m really gobsmacked.
Just taking the time to talk to him made my day actually.
This would be the best dish I’ve eaten in my life. Because it’s so natural, and yet so well-executed. No sauces or heavy seasoning to mask the freshness of the ingredients, and no processing whatsoever, which allowed the flavours to shine through.
This makes me want to travel the world and learn more about foodie culture all over the world.
So if you ever have the chance to try ceviche, you definitely should! You may not love it, but just take a moment to enjoy the experience, and watch the preparation. You may not gain a new favourite food, but you’ll learn about a new culture, and isn’t that what its all about?