What better way to savor the memories of a summer that zoomed by, whilst we coped with a new normal, than to make ceviche. The national dish of Peru is a signature symphony of raw fish marinated in simple, aromatic spices, and steeped in flavor that induces a state of exhilaration.
Josefina was born in San Augustin de Huayopampa, an idyllic little town about 90 miles from Peru’s capital of Lima that is known for its peaches, apples and avocados. The fish used in Peru is lenguado, mero, chita, but here Josefina uses tilapia.
Josefina says that in Peru ceviche is virtually synonymous with the beach and summer. She says she misses her homeland dearly — her friends, her church, the way people treat each other there. Making ceviche here for her family takes her back to those times.
She wistfully shared this recipe with me.
- 6 boneless fillets of tilapia
- Freshly squeezed juice from approximately 12 limes
- 1-1/2 cups of finely chopped celery
- 6-8 cloves of garlic minced very fine, or ground to a paste in a mini-blender
- 2 tbsps of ‘Picante” paste, bought in a bottle at any Peruvian store (Josefina uses Rocoto)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Thinly sliced onion and finely chopped cilantro for garnish
- Cut tilapia into cubes
- Add salt, pepper and garlic and gently mix with the fish
- Add celery and picante sauce and mix thoroughly, taking care not to macerate the fish
- Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes
- Garnish with sliced onions and cilantro
- Serve on bed of lettuce, with boiled sweet potato and Peruvian corn (see photo)
NOTE > Traditionally, this dish has to be eaten fresh for the best taste. It is not meant to be stored in the refrigerator, although it may last in an airtight container for upto two days.
Renu Rao is a long-time River Towns resident who finds cooking therapeutic for the soul and believes eating right is the pathway to wellness.