Culinary Odyssey (Part 1): Ceviche, Peru

Join Exodus' Dan Jackson for a worldwide culinary odyssey. First stop: Peru.

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 - a task 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, mostly ranging from the good to the outstanding, but very occasionally, the downright ugly. My top tip: always follow the locals. If a stall is eerily quiet there’s usually a good reason why!

From sampling sheep’s brain in Marrakech to guinea pig in Cuzco, whether I'm suddenly the ‘guest’ of honour at a voodoo banquet in Togo or disgracefully 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.

Hopefully, with a few stories and a few recipes, I'll be able to motivate you sufficiently to go on a culinary adventure of your own. I've got some dishes to get you into the kitchen and preparing simple but tasty dinners with a drizzle of flair while dreaming of your next Exodus holiday.

What’s on the menu..?

My debut recipe is extremely simple. It does not involve any cooking, but its a light and refreshing treat for the palate - perfect for when spring is in the air and those winter blues have been banished. It's a traditional Peruvian taster, called ceviche.

If you want to try the real deal, 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, 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.

Ceviche

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 lime juice (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 pollock, especially as we all need to do our bit in protecting the diminishing North Sea cod stocks.

250g of pollock
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

Preparation
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?

Pisco sour in a restaurant, Peru Pisco sour in a restaurant, Peru

Pisco Sour

2oz Pisco brandy
1oz Lemon juice
Half an egg white
Dash of angostura
1-2 tblsp sugar
Crushed ice

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.

Got a taste for Peru? Take a look at our 14 Peruvian escapes

 

Want to continue your culinary odyssey with Dan? 

Part 2: Moroccan Tagine

Part 3: Thai Larb

Part 4: Spanish Paella

Part 5: Chinese Duck

Part 6: Finnish Lohikeitto

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