In Peru, they say a great ceviche doesn’t need more than five ingredients; fish, lime juice, chili pepper, onion and salt. I like to add a little vibrancy to mine with the addition of tomatoes, avocado and coriander, plus a little coconut milk – if you can manage to get your hands on fresh coconut water, even better, use that.
You may be wondering as well, what’s the difference between coconut water and coconut milk?
Coconut water (or coconut juice) is the liquid found inside young coconuts (green coconuts not brown ones). It’s basically what you see the hipsters drinking in the streets of Berlin (or the Grand Caymans!) – delicious fresh coconut juice served directly from the fruit with a straw stuck in it!
— The Ritz-Carlton (@RitzCarlton) 1. August 2014
As for coconut milk, it takes a little more work to produce. As the coconut matures (and turns brown), the “juice” is replaced by the coconut flesh. The coconut milk is extracted by simmering one part shredded coconut flesh with one part water and then straining the mixture through a cheesecloth, and squeezing out as much liquid as possible. The cream, is the non-liquid part that separates and rises to the top.
So maybe coconut just isn’t your thing? Then go ahead and skip it altogether — you’ll be one step closer to the original.
Traditionally, ceviche is marinated for about 3 hours, but when the fish is impeccably fresh this dish is eaten as soon as the fish turns opaque. How can you tell it’s fresh? First, buy from a reputable fish monger. Second, if it smells like fish, it is not fresh. If it smells like a clean ocean breeze, it’s fresh.
Although this recipe uses coconut milk, it still brings me back to holidays spent in Mexico soaking up the sun and enjoying fresh ceviche served in the beach cafes. Enjoy!
IMPORTANT: use the freshest fish possible for this recipe.
Serves 4, as a starter
finely grated zest of 1 lime
1/2 cup lime juice (125 ml), plus extra (about 4-5 limes, if they are juicy)
1/3 cup coconut milk (unsweetened) (80 ml)
450 g very fresh firm white fish (such as sea bass, seam bream, grouper, sole or flounder from sustainable sources), cut into small cubes
1 fresh red chili or jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 avocado, peeled, stoned and cut into cubes
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh coriander, leaves removed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Depending on which fish fillet you choose, be sure to remove any pin bones from the fish with tweezers or needle-nose pliers. If you can’t find any pin bones, it’s likely the fishmonger already removed them.
2. Mix the lime zest, lime juice and a pinch of salt in a glass or ceramic bowl, stirring well, then add the coconut milk. Add the cubed fish and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for two to three hours, tossing once or twice. Drain off most of the marinade and refresh the fish with a little extra lime juice.
Note: DO NOT use stainless steel, aluminum and plastic bowls; the acidic properties of lime juice can have a chemical reaction and taint the taste of the fish.
3. Add the chili, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, garlic and cilantro leaves to the fish and gently toss. Arrange on four serving plates, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and serve.