Simple Art of Cooking: You Say ‘Ceviche,’ I Say ‘Yum’

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I don’t remember when I fell in love with ceviche, the popular seafood dish typically made with fresh raw fish, cured in citrus juices and chilies. I was reintroduced to the dish recently, when I dined in a Peruvian restaurant.  Firm pieces of cod with slivers of pickled red onion and caramelized cubes of sweet potatoes melded into a luscious mix of ingredients with a bit of heat. For a twist on this coastal classic, I offer ceviche from The Old Oyster Factory, a North Fork restaurant no longer in existence. What better location to prepare ceviche than here on the East End with our abundance of fresh local fish?

Along the way a young Peruvian woman I know introduced me to lomo saltado; this stir-fried beef stew incorporates french-fried potatoes with a serving of rice. The meat in the dish can be marinated in soy sauce—soy sauce in Peruvian food? In fact, Peruvian food reflects multicultural influences from the indigenous Incas, as well as the Spanish, Chinese, Italian and German cuisines, along with African influences. And it appears there’s a revival of Peruvian cuisine, staples of which incorporate corn, potatoes, chili peppers and the traditional quinoa.

The Old Oyster, formerly on the North Fork, served this classic over a bed of lettuce with sliced avocado and diced red pepper for presentation.

Serves 8 as first course 

1/2 cup shucked oysters
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
grated rind of one lemon
1 small jalapeno (seeds removed), finely chopped

To serve:
Boston or red tipped lettuce
2 ripe avocados
lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion cut into small dice

1. Place scallops and oysters in a mixing bowl. Add all ingredients except jalapeno and stir to mix. Refrigerate, covered in a suitable container and marinate overnight.

2. Before serving, drain the shellfish of excess liquid. Add jalapeno and stir to mix. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasoning as necessary.

3. Wash and spin-dry lettuce leaves. Arrange two or three leaves on salad plates, equally divided.

4. Peel, pit and slice avocados; fan slices equally over the lettuce. Sprinkle lemon juice and olive oil over each salad then scoop an equal serving of ceviche centered over each salad. Top with a sprinkle of red pepper dice and serve at room temperature.

Adapted from Silvia Lehrer’s “Cooking at Cooktique,” (Doubleday and e-book, “The Simple Art of Cooking,” 2012)

This combination of serving potatoes and rice is a typical Peruvian peasant dish. The recipe can be prepared ahead, mixing the ingredients, then reheating before serving. The rice is treated as a separate dish.

Serves 4

1/4 cup canola oil
2 Russet potatoes cut for french fries
3/4 pound beef round cut into 3/8-inch cubes
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 to 3 plum tomatoes cut into chunks
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley or cilantro

1. Heat oil in a large, 10- to 12-inch, heavy skillet and put in the potatoes to fry until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Toss them around the pan to cook evenly. Transfer potatoes with slotted spoon to a large bowl. Put the meat in the skillet the potatoes cooked in and sauté, stirring occasionally until the meat loses its red color and is slightly crisp. Season the meat with salt and pepper and transfer to the potatoes in the bowl.

2. Add onion to the skillet that the potatoes and meat cooked in and sauté, stirring occasionally for 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer to the meat and potatoes. When ready to serve return all ingredients to the skillet, garnish with parsley and warm over low heat. Serve crispy *Peruvian rice on the side and serve.

*Prepare white or brown rice by sautéing the rice in a little oil first with finely chopped onion then proceed with water, seasoning and cook as for basic rice recipe.

Note: An option is to marinate the meat with 2 teaspoons each chopped garlic and soy sauce and 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin for 30 minutes. Or, bake frozen French fries as package directs. Five minutes before fries are done, stir-fry the beef and continue with the recipe.

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