My in-laws were in town a few weekends ago, and I’m incredibly fortunate that they adore food the same way Vic and I do. In fact, it was a weekend filled with eating, talking, and more eating. Basically, my type of weekend. Over the course of the the few days, my mother in law shared her recipe for Ceviche. Being from Peru, she knows her way around some Aji Amarillo peppers and Lomo Saltado, so making this was a no brainer.
There are plenty of Ceviche recipes circulating the blog/magazine world, but what I’ve found, is that there is a time and place for complicated, time consuming recipes, and this is neither the time, nor the place. What this recipe lacks in complicated preparation, it more than makes up for in flavor.
Feel free to add and delete ingredients as you go. The one thing that I do feel is necessary to share is the addition of the Aji Amarillo. In the event your local grocery store does not carry this ingredient (which is highly likely), you may substitute jalapeño or serrano peppers. Or, you could do what we did, and go to your local Peruvian restaurant, order some takeout, and ask for an extra serving of Aji to go. Win win.
Between the acid in the lemon/lime mixture combined with the red (or white) onions and garlic salt, this dish is a tangy/spicy lover’s dream. It goes perfectly with chips, bread, or sweet potatoes, which is the Peruvian way. Serve it as a main dish, or a side, either way, you’re bound to feel a little bit like you’re standing atop Macchu Picchu.
*This is a recipe with a lot of inactive prep time. So it’s a good dish to have marinating while working on other things.
1 lb high quality, fresh whitefish (I used Red Snapper, which was what my mother in law recommended). Ours was purchased from a local fishmonger/butcher because we do not live in a coastal area and wanted to make sure ours was of a high quality.
4-6 lemons and or limes (I used a mixture of both), enough to equal at least a cup of juice.
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp Cayenne pepper, or Aji (if you use Aji, it is VERY spicy, a little goes a very long way).
1/2 c chopped cilantro
1 finely chopped red or white onion(my mother in law uses red, I used white…either is fine). I would suggest using a mandolin to help you slice the onion.
2 jalapeños, chopped (depending on how spicy you’d like this to be)
salt and pepper to taste
*Feel free to add any other spices you might like (paprika or crushed pepper).
Prepare the fish to be “cooked.” The beauty of Ceviche is that the fish is sliced very thinly in order for it to “cook” thoroughly in the acid of the lemons/limes. Place the fresh fish in the freezer for about 30-45 minutes. You want it to be hardened, not frozen, but hard enough that it makes it very easy to slice.
Once the fish is cold enough, remove it from the freezer, and slice it in 1/4 to1/2 inch wide, slices. Try to not make them any thicker than that, otherwise it will take them much longer to cook.
Place the fish in a large bowl and pour the lemon/lime juice, garlic salt, salt and pepper, and aji/cayenne over it. Throw the onions in with the spices and fish. Mix everything thoroughly so that the fish is completely submerged in the juice. Make sure the fish is not overcrowded, otherwise it will cook unevenly (this took a little trial and error on my part).
Cover the bowl, and place in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours (my mother in law only lets hers sit for 60 minutes, and it’s completely done, mine took about 4 hours, probably due to the thickness of our fish). Stir every 30 minutes or so to make sure that the fish is cooking evenly (if you can’t stir it that often, as long as the fish is floating freely and submerged you can leave it alone and only stir once an hour or so). You will know when it is properly cooked through, when you break a piece and it no longer looks raw on the inside.
Once the fish is cooked through, you may drain it out of the juice if you’d like, or you may add the cilantro and jalapeño to the mixture, stir and enjoy. We chose to eat ours with sweet potatoes and chips (a mixture of Peru and America).
*My mother in law swears that the juice from the ceviche, or the “Leche de Tigre,” is great to treat a cold. I am not brave enough to try it, but you might be…