The New Year is right around the corner. I’m not superstitious, but sometimes it’s nice to embark on rituals to scare away the urucubaca from the past. At this turn, however, no pomegranate, lentil or bay leaf in the bag.
Let’s go ceviche.
To celebrate the arrival of 2023, I chose a recipe for squid ceviche with chayote —as far as I know, my own creation. Perfect for summer, perfect for the beginning of the season.
Ceviche is a cold preparation typical of Peru and many other countries on the Pacific coast of Latin America: Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico. These are fish, seafood and/or vegetables cured in an acidic broth of lemon, onion, coriander, some pepper and other varied seasonings.
It is quite common to use squid in the preparation of ceviche. Unlike fish, which is used raw in the recipe, squid must be cooked first. Five minutes at the most in boiling water —after that, the meat turns to rubber— and immediately soak it in ice water to stop the cooking process.
Chayote, a vegetable native to Central America, is a widely used substitute in vegan ceviche recipes.
The mild flavor of chayote, here, becomes an asset. It absorbs all the aromas and acidity of the broth. Used raw, the vegetable provides a crunchy texture that makes a nice counterpoint to the tenderness of the cooked squid.
To compose the classic ceviche flavor, in addition to the lemon, I used a good amount of red onion, less aggressive than the white one. I garnished with orange sweet potato, common in the Andes (if you can’t find it, you can use another sweet potato).
Peruvian ceviche uses typical Peruvian peppers, such as ají amarillo and ají rocoto. If you have any of them handy, fantastic; if not, do as I do and use chili pepper.
A generous handful of coriander is needed to flavor the ceviche. If you’re on the disgusting team, I’m sorry to say that it’s not worth trying to replace.
Finally, when portioning out the ingredients, remember that the chayote is a supporting element: the squid is the protagonist.
Happy 2023 everyone!
Squid ceviche with chayote
Yield: 2 servings
1 orange sweet potato
1 red onion
300g small squid, cleaned (body and tentacles)
2 large, juicy lemons
Salt, coriander and pepper to taste
- Boil or roast the sweet potato until tender. Let cool.
- Cut the onion into very thin slices and soak it in water for 1 hour to lose its acrid flavor.
- Boil water with salt in a pan. Prepare a bowl with water and plenty of ice. Cook the squid for 3 to 4 minutes, drain and immediately transfer to ice water, which will stop cooking. Leave it in that water for at least 10 minutes.
- Cut the squid into very thin rings.
- Peel and cut the chayote into thin slices.
- Drain the onion and mix it with the squid and chayote. Squeeze the lemons, salt and season with chopped cilantro and pepper. Mix well and leave in the fridge for 1 hour, in a covered bowl, to taste. Serve cold with the sweet potato.
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