Rachel Allen: Fresh prawn and mango ceviche
This dish is full of invigorating flavours that simply explode in the mouth
I always remember my first taste of ceviche.
It was back in 1990, when I was doing the cookery course at Ballymaloe. Susie Noriega, one of our teachers, who was from Peru, taught us how to make it. I immediately adored this incredibly fresh-tasting Latin American starter of raw fish simply marinated in citrus juice, with some chillies, tomatoes and peppers thrown in for good measure. The acid in the citrus juice denatures the proteins in the fish in much the same way as cooking would, so the ceviche is, effectively, 'cooked'.
Fast-forward 20-odd years, and ceviche has become almost commonplace on this side of the world, with it appearing on myriad restaurant menus, and even whole restaurants serving nothing but the dish itself.
Susie Noriega then married an Irish man, changed her name to Mrs O'Connor and now lives in Galway.
Galway is also exactly where I'm going as soon as I possibly can to get my next fix of ceviche.
This time to Kai Cafe + Restaurant, where New Zealand-born Jess Murphy, along with her husband, David, have been making great waves in the very exciting food scene that's happening out west.
Jess made this Summer Ceviche with Tiger's Milk, opposite, recently at the West Waterford Festival of Food, where I had the pleasure of introducing (and tasting) the food of six of the country's best female chefs at a cookery demonstration.
A firebomb of fresh, invigorating flavours exploded in my mouth – I had problems putting the plate down to let the audience taste! The tiger's milk (leche de tigre) is what South Americans drink from a small glass when all the ceviche has been eaten.
Often brightly coloured from the chillies, and sometimes mixed with a little vodka, this is supposed to be the ultimate hangover cure.
And you can imagine why. Raw food at its best, with lots of chilli juice to help sweat it out. I must remember to have some tiger's milk in my fridge next time.
Prawn and mango ceviche
225g (8oz) raw prawns, peeled (weigh when peeled)
2 generous tablespoons chopped coriander
1 ripe, small mango, peeled and finely diced
3 tomatoes, or 16 cherry tomatoes, finely diced
Half a small red onion, finely diced
Half a red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 limes, juiced
1 orange, juiced
A few handfuls of mixed salad leaves and some extra coriander leaves
Split the raw prawns in half lengthways, so that they are thin and long, then place them in a bowl or shallow dish.
Add the chopped coriander, the finely diced mango, the finely diced tomatoes, the finely diced red onion, the finely chopped chilli, the lime juice and the orange juice, then season well with salt to taste, adding a little more chopped chilli, if necessary.
Place in the fridge and chill for up to half an hour.
To serve, place a small handful of mixed salad leaves on each plate and divide up the ceviche over the top. Garnish the ceviche with a few coriander leaves.
Ceviche with cucumber, chilli and avocado
250g (9oz) white fish fillets, such as haddock, cod, pollock, plaice or sole, cut in thin strips about ½cm thick
Juice of 3 limes
2 spring onions, sliced
75g (2½oz) cucumber, cut into ½cm dice
1 medium avocado, cut into ½cm dice
¼-½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
A good drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
In a bowl, mix together the fish strips with the lime juice. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Remove from the fridge, and add in the sliced spring onions, the diced cucumber, the diced avocado and the chopped chilli. Divide between plates, drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil over each plate and serve.
Summer ceviche with tiger's milk
This recipe is from Jess Murphy at the Kai Cafe + Restaurant in Galway.
For the tiger's milk, you will need:
1 x 5mm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and halved, see my Tip, opposite
1 small garlic clove, halved
4 coriander sprigs, roughly chopped
Juice of 8 limes
2 teaspoons chilli paste
½ teaspoon salt
To make the tiger's milk, put the fresh root ginger halves, the halved garlic clove, the roughly chopped coriander sprigs and the lime juice in a bowl. Stir, then leave to infuse for five minutes. Strain the mixture through a sieve into another bowl.
Add the chilli paste, along with half a teaspoon of salt, and mix well. This will keep for four hours in the fridge.
For the ceviche, you will need:
1 large red onion, very thinly sliced
600g (1lb 5oz) lemon sole or scallops
Fine sea salt
1 portion tiger's milk (see above)
A few coriander sprigs, leaves finely chopped
1 limo chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (limo chillis are sweet and very hot; if one is not available, you can use any hot red chilli)
1 blood orange, or 1 orange, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
Wash the thinly sliced red onion and then leave it to soak in iced water for five minutes. Drain the onion slices thoroughly, spread them out on kitchen paper to remove any excess water and then put in the fridge until needed. This will reduce the strength of the onions and help to keep them crisp.
Cut the lemon sole or scallops, whichever you're using, into pieces of around 3cm x 2cm (1in x 1½iin). Put the fish pieces in a large bowl, add a good pinch of sea salt and mix together gently with a metal spoon. The sea salt will help to open the fish's pores.
Leave for two minutes and then pour the tiger's milk over the salted fish pieces and combine gently with the spoon. Leave the fish to 'cook' in this marinade for two minutes.
Add the drained red onion slices, the finely chopped coriander leaves, the finely chopped chilli and the slices of blood orange, or ordinary orange, whichever you're using, to the salted fish.
Using a spoon, gently mix everything together and taste to check that the balance of salt, sour and chilli is to your liking. Divide between your serving bowls and serve immediately, along with the avocado slices.
Ginger can be peeled with the edge of a teaspoon – that way, you only remove the skin, which is quite thin.
Kai Cafe + Restaurant is a really fabulous part of Galway's food scene. The menus change daily and use only the freshest organic produce from local suppliers. Jessica and David Murphy have won awards and praise from across the country, and further afield, for their simple, delicious food. www.kaicaferestaurant.com
Photography by Tony Gavin
Rachel's clothes: Brown Thomas
Make-up by Roisin Derrane for Lancome, using the Lancome Spring 2014 Colour Collection
Hair by Amanda Darcy Sloan, Sugar Cubed
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