Ceviche of Peru
Peruvian cuisine rivals, and in many instances surpasses, the other great cuisines of the world. But if there is one Peruvian dish that is the “flagship dish” of the nation’s vast, eclectic, gastronomical heritage, it is ceviche, a simple and divine dish made of small cuts of raw fish marinated with fresh-squeezed lime [not lemon!] juice; freshly sliced onions; chopped, fresh cilantro; slivers of fresh, fiery-hot, scotch bonnet peppers; a pinch of salt; and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Technically, ceviche may be made with any raw seafood—fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and combinations thereof. But the most-often-used seafood ingredient is fillet of flounder, its delicate flavor serving as conductor to the medley of flavors that characterize the dish.
The trick to ceviche is keeping it simple: Many an international chef, in an always-futile attempt to perfect perfection, add “exotic ingredients”—to the detriment of the dish (even if those ingredients “taste” enticing on a menu). But when it comes to ceviche, the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is on-point.
Absolutely no cooking is required with ceviche. As such, it is a perfect dish for a young, single gentleman to perfect, making it his “signature dish”—the dish he shows up with (on ice, of course!) at pot luck parties when he wants to “get lucky.” All that is required is loyalty to the authentic recipe and a little time—as few as 30 minutes, and as much as one day—for the dish to marinate in the refrigerator, the acid in the lime juice effortlessly “cooking” the fish in the process.
Traditionally, ceviche—especially in restaurants—is served chilled in a Martini glass, garnished with a lime “wagon wheel” and complemented by a hefty slice of local sweet potato and a tiny dish of roasted (and oftentimes salted) kernels of corn.