“How can they eat raw fish?” asked my dear, now-departed mother the first time I introduced her to sushi. After decades of cooking gefilte fish and broiling salmon, the very thought of the Japanese willingly consuming raw fish was far too odd for her to contemplate.
Years ago in Israel, most people would have felt the same way and there are still some who do. But today, even little kids love sushi and every trendy restaurant has its own version of ceviche, the Mexican response to sushi.
An integral part of the cuisines of Mexico, Peru (served with cold sweet potato or corn-on-the-cob) and Ecuador (served with popcorn, nuts or extra-large corn kernels), ceviche is pickled in a marinade of lime juice (limes are available toward the end of the summer in Israel) or lemon juice, if you can’t get your hands on lemons. It’s super-easy to prepare, and perfect as a first course or in a more substantial salad.
Some important factors to know before you begin:
- Always start with very fresh fish, used the same day it’s purchased.
- Use separate cutting surfaces for fresh fish and vegetables.
- Season with coarse natural (Atlantic) sea salt if possible.
- Thoroughly chill or freeze the fish for 10-15 minutes in the freezer before cutting.
Salmon Ceviche in endive leaves (great for entertaining)
- 750 grams fresh salmon fillet
- 1.5 cups lemon juice, or lime in season
- 3 tablespoons coarse salt
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- Half a teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped, or 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons fresh coriander
- 1 small green hot pepper, minced
- White pepper to taste
- Endive leaves (about 3 bunches)
- 50 grams salmon caviar
- Micro-basil or other sprouts (optional)
- Rinse the fish and pat dry. Place on a plate and stick in the freezer for 10 minutes before cutting widthwise into 1-1 ½ cm slices and then into cubes. Place in a glass or other non-reactive bowl.
- Pour the lemon/lime juice (or a combination) over the fish, season with salt, thyme, coriander seeds and mix gently. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes (but 1-4 hours is best), until the fish is an opaque color. Mix gently and occasionally.
- Drain and add green pepper and coriander. Season with white pepper.
- Remove the base of each endive and separate the leaves (use only the large leaves and save the small leaves for noshing). Fill each one with a tablespoon or more of ceviche, and top with some salmon caviar (or micro sprouts and then the salmon). If not serving immediately, cover with nylon wrap and refrigerate for up to two hours.
Instant Tuna Ceviche
Serve in martini or shot glasses
- 400 grams fresh tuna, cut into small cubes
- 1 medium red onion cut into small cubes
- Half cup finely chopped coriander
- 1 tablespoon pickled ginger (sushi ginger)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- Salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon hot red pepper
- Radish or sunflower seed sprouts
Mix all the ingredients together except the sprouts just before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately in chilled glasses, garnished with sprouts.