Peruvian cuisine may have conquered London, with ceviche found on any menu that purports to be on trend. Varieties abound from the types of fish used to the elements used to make the tiger’s milk, the acidity of which cooks the fish. Ceviche and Senior Ceviche are the names most know and by far two of the best Peruvian restaurants in town.
Michelin stared Lima and its sister Lima Floral Street (complete with pisco bar) are easily the two best, hardly a shocker when they are owned and run by the best chef in Latin America, Virgilio Martinez. Last year I got the chance to interview the charming young chef at Lima. While much of the conversation was about his career and book, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass to ask him for his secrets for a perfect ceviche at home.
Having used these five pearls of wisdom, I can attest that it is by far the best method and recipe I have tried at home.
“For me the sole is the best but, if it’s not fresh or the best, then I go to another fish; it’s raw food and fish, so everything has to be fresh.”
[Lamppost’s note: Other fish that work well are tuna and mackerel. Scallops and prawns are also favourites of restaurants but you should be careful about using shellfish at home]
“Ceviche has to have a balance; it’s not all about the acid and I don’t like it like that, but people think that’s what it’s meant to be, you’re killing the fish.”
The Tiger’s Milk
“Use lime juice, ginger, garlic, onion, celery and coriander … some don’t like to use it [celery] but I add it because of the bitterness.”
“Keep everything in the fridge, the bowl, everything. It slows down the reaction with the fish.”
[Lamppost’s note: this makes the cooking more even and helps stop the fish being over ‘cooked’ by the acid. One way to keep it cold is to prepare the fish and tiger’s milk in separate bowls and then leave them in the fridge for 10 minutes to chill before mixing together and serving.]
“You should marinate it for only 5 seconds, so you’re just marinating the fish.”
Some recipes suggest adding salt a minute or so before adding the marinade as a way to open up the fish and get it to take the marinade flavours better, but Virgilio says otherwise, suggesting you add salt just as you add the marinade.