Culinary Odyssey (part1) - Ceviche
By Dan Jackson, Exodus Agency Sales Manager
My passion for combining food with travel stretches back to the early 90’s when I worked in the wine bar and restaurant trade in the heart of the City’s square mile which gained me the experience to go and run a hotel in the French Alps for a ski season (Ok, so the real reason was to ski every day but I still got my hands dirty in the kitchen..).
A year backpacking around the world on a budget that would make Ebenezer Scrooge look a benevolent character necessitated the need to eat plenty of street food ranging from the good to the outstanding, but very rarely, the downright ugly. Always follow the locals, and if a stall is eerily quiet there’s usually a good reason why!
I’m now in my 8th year at Exodus so have certainly sampled a variety of worldwide eateries, some of which you may well come across on your next trip with us.
From sampling sheep’s brain in Marrakech to guinea pig in Cuzco, and being the ‘guest’ of honour at a voodoo banquet in Togo to passing out after too much vodka and dumplings in Tbilisi (I still blame the dumplings) one of the highlights of any trip I take is jumping at the chance to really get stuck in to the local cuisine. That is, apart from the deep fried donkey penis covered in an indescribable ‘jus’ I was once presented with in rural Nigeria - that’s taking things just a bit too far for my humble, but reasonably discerning palate.
My new monthly feature will hopefully motivate you sufficiently to carefully nurture your neglected herb garden or get reacquainted with your local fishmonger and get you into the kitchen and preparing simple but tasty dishes with a drizzle of flair while dreaming of your next Exodus holiday.
What’s on the menu..?
To ease you all into what I hope is going to be a mandatory monthly read, my debut recipe is extremely simple. It does not involve any cooking, but with spring in the air and a general mood of merriment here in SW12 now the winter blues have been banished, its time for a light and refreshing treat for the palate. Now is the time to book a trip to Peru with the best time to go generally being May-September when it is dry and sunny but not uncomfortably hot. Cuzco, Machu Picchu & the Amazon tend to hog all the glory and rightly so when speaking of Peru, but my recipe, although served in restaurants throughout the country and the rest of Latin America, is particularly renowned in Lima, Arequipa and the Pacific coast towns.
This is a classic Peruvian dish but has variations depending on which country in Latin America you sample it in – it is eaten throughout the whole continent both as a starter and main course. Ceviche is a seafood salad marinated in limejuice (effectively cooking the raw fish) with hot peppers and raw onions. So simple, yet incredibly refreshing on the palate. It is crucial that the fish used is as fresh as possible – so chat up your fishmonger. I recommend using the very underrated Pollack, especially as we all need to do our bit in protecting the diminishing North Sea Cod stocks.
250g of Pollack
Juice of two limes
One hot pepper finely chopped
One red onion finely chopped
Pinch of salt
(Optional sprinkle of fresh coriander if you feel some greenery is a must)
Serves 4 as a starter
Dice the Pollack into 2cm pieces and mix with the finely chopped onion. Season with salt and add the hot pepper. Then thoroughly toss the fish through the lime-juice and marinate for up to 2 hours. Serve immediately. Peruvians like to accompany the Ceviche with sweet potato which is a perfect partner to the zesty, tangy zing that is unleashed on your taste buds with the first mouthful of fresh Ceviche. If you really want to give the boat a nudge, how about mixing a Pisco sour to go all out on the Peruvian theme.
2oz Pisco brandy
1oz Lemon juice
Half an egg white
Dash of angostura
1-2 tblsp sugar
Give all the ingredients a hearty mix in the cocktail shaker and before you know it the faint sounds of Andean panpipes will fill your head and transport you to the Inca lost city of Machu Picchu. If you’re struggling to locate a bottle of Pisco brandy then try a bottle of Cusquena beer brewed in Cuzco and now widely available in the UK – this is an award winning lager that oozes flavour whilst retaining a crisp and clean finish. Dan will be giving us a taster of his favourite worldwide recipes every month in Episodes. Look out for the next one!