A raw fish dish for a sizzling Israeli summer
Ceviche, a South American dish, can be more multicultural than migrating fish. With a wide variety of vegetable, fruit and sauce combinations, you can make it Israeli, Asian or even Peruvian.
Ceviche, a South American dish of raw fish that is marinated in citrus juice, is perfect for this season. It’s not only healthy, combining fish and vegetables with very little or no fat at all, it’s also quick and easy to prepare on a lazy summer's day. And the best thing about preparing ceviche is that there’s no heat source involved.
The basics of the dish are simple: You need to choose a firm fish, such as tilapia, mahi mahi, salmon, tuna, or sea bass and mix it with lime or lemon juice. Add hot pepper to your liking, some salt and chopped red onion, and your ceviche is pretty much done.
Now you can add fruit, vegetables, herbs, and oil or spices, to change the ceviche’s character as you wish. Use fresh vegetables that are available and in season, such as radishes, tomatoes and cucumbers. Or, add steamed or grilled vegetables like beets, asparagus, corn or squash. You can also try fruit, including pomegranate, grapefruit, orange, avocado and watermelon. I like to add a little olive oil for a nice finishing touch to any ceviche recipe, but it is not necessary.
The secret to ceviche is the citrus in the recipe which “cooks” or ”pickles” the fish in the sense that it makes its flesh firmer and more opaque, as though it were cooked. But the fish is not really cooked, and the process does not kill bacteria. It is therefore very important to buy your fish from a reliable store and make sure it’s very fresh. To be on the safe side, you can freeze the fish - a process which will kill all parasites that may be present (read more about it on the FDA website). Raw fish is not recommended for pregnant women, young children and older adults.
It’s easy to make your own ceviche. Don’t think you have to follow the exact recipe. I made one ceviche recipe very Israeli by adding the raw fish to a tabbouleh style salad, which came out delicious. You can make an Asian version by mixing raw salmon with lime juice, avocado, green onion, Thai chili pepper, cilantro and soy sauce. Or stay close to the Peruvian recipe with sweet potatoes and corn. For my family of tween and teenagers, either ceviche has been their favorite for years.
Vered Guttman is a caterer and a food writer based in Washington DC. Growing up in Israel she took her first lessons in Jewish cooking sitting at the tables of her two grandmothers, one from Poland, the other from Iraq. In Modern Manna, Vered will share a mix of new Israeli trends and old Jewish traditions, sprinkled with a distinct Sephardic flavor. Follow Vered on Twitter @veredguttman