A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of working with freshest, tastiest European sea bass (lavraki) in the world. It was flown in from Greece by my friends at Selonda Aquaculture, Greece’s largest supplier of farm raised sea bass and sea bream.
What arrived were boneless, skinless lavraki fillets – simply smelled of the sea and I knew they would be perfect for a ceviche-type dish.
Ceviche has its origins in Peru, its popularity then expanded to other Latin American countries, Canada and the US and of course, Europe. The key to ceviche is to use only the freshest fish and if you’re not sure – don’t make it!
Ceviche is made by “cooking” the fish with acid. For example, take a piece of tuna or salmon and squeeze lemon juice on it. In minutes you will see the fish turn opaque – cooked by acid, if you will.
This lavraki was unquestionably fresh, but the other pratfall when preparing this dish is to allow the fish to cook in the acid for too long. The result is rubbery fish and the flavour is dulled.
So, I’m using a method I saw demonstrated by Chef Jamie Malone from Minnesota, who borrows a technique from Asian cooking where sizzling hot oil is poured over the fish to slightly cook it.
I like this method because I am assured of consistent results, the fish is never over-cooked by acid and if I am serving large groups (like when we served this at Skara last month), again no worries of rubbery fish.
This method allows you to prepare all the steps (up to #4) then simply wait until you’re ready to serve this course and pour this three-citrus dressing on the top.
Ceviche With Fennel, Cilantro and Three Citrus Dressing
1/4 cup of finely diced shallots (or red onions)
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. Dijon honey
juice of one lemon
juice of one orange
juice of 1/2 pink grapefruit
2 Tbsp. Ouzo
approx. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper
sea salt to taste
1 cup thinly sliced fennel (use a mandoline)
1/4 cup diced red peppers
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 fillet of boneless, skinless European sea bass
fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Add the minced onion/shallots in a jar with vinegar and allow the onions to mellow for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and seal the jar and shake. Adjust seasoning and reserve.
- Prepare your garnishes and reserve.
- Place your fish on a cutting board and thinly slice into bite sized pieces with a sharp knife. Spread the sliced fennel on the bottom of a long slender plate. Now place about 4-5 slices on top of the fennel for each portion.
- Place your olive oil in a small pot and place on your stovetop and heat until it just starts to smoke. Remove from the heat and pour hot oil on all the fish (you should hear it sizzle).
- Wait a minute for fish to cool, vigorously shake the jar with the dressing and spoon over the fish. Garnish with diced red peppers, cilantro and serve with a Lyrarakis Assrytiko of Sitia (SAQ code 11996333. $20.30. available at your local SAQ.)
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