Thursday, 20 March 2014

Sluttishly Savoury: Sea Bass Ceviche with Pickled Chilli


As summer beckons, who wants to be cooking into the wee hours? No thanks - I plan to spend all my free time drinking pale ale on Peckham Rye, and have vowed that NOTHING will prevent this. The clever, clever Peruvians have a nifty dish that allows you to both cook and play. Let's welcome back ceviche.

Pronounced sev-veech-ay, it's is essentially fish left in the fridge for a few hours bathing in citrus juices before being adorned with pretty things. Now before anyone goes waving their finger - I was taught at college that cooking means 'changing the chemical structure of food'. This means that preparing ceviche is in fact cooking. Only we're letting the lime juice wear the apron while we gallivant amongst the daffodils *rapturous applause for limes*. The fish has to be top notch – supermarket vac-packed swimmers be gone – it has to be sushi fresh. It's time to become besties with your local fishmonger.

I'm something of a purist when it comes to ceviche. I think it should be left pretty simple, so you can taste your expertly-sourced fish. The pickled chilli is awesome and dead easy, plus you can keep it in the fridge for a good week or two; and put it in salads and all sorts.

Sea Bass Ceviche (serves 2 as a light lunch or starter)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Sitting in the fridge time: 1 hour

For the pickled chilli:
  • 2 red chillis (large ones preferably)
  • 125ml rice vinegar
  • 100g caster sugar 
  • a splash of fish sauce 
For the Ceviche:
  • 2 fresh sea bass fillets (skin removed, boned and sliced thinly)
  • 2 limes, juiced and zested
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 small bunch of coriander, leaves picked off
  • a tsp of black sesame seeds or nigella seeds 
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 avocado, diced (or whizzled with a tbsp of mayo and served alongside)
    Make it!
    For the pickled chilli: 
    • Cut the top and bottoms off the chillies. Using a skewer or something equally long and pokey, push the seeds out, so you're left with a hollowed out chilli. Now slice them into rings. 
    • Boil the kettle and submerge the chilli rings in the hot water for about 30 seconds. Then drain and rinse under cold water.
    • Repeat this process two more times. This method of blanching the chilli is muy importante because you need to remove some of the heat, otherwise the chilli ends up hotter than the sun.
    • Warm the vinegar in a small pan, adding the sugar until dissolved. 
    • Pour the vinegar over the chilli rings, add a splash of fish sauce and leave to cool.

    For the ceviche:
    • Slice the sea bass fillets, as thinly as you can and layer onto one big plate, as you would for carpaccio. 
    • Mix the lime and lemon juice together and pour over the plate. Cling film it and leave in the fridge for about an hour to 'cook'. 
    • When you want to serve, just drizzle with olive oil and sea salt and arrange the pickled chilli and the rest of the ingredients over the top. It's really nice accompanied by wine and crispbreads.

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