Tonight for dinner my good friend Frances came over, as well as my Uncle Sonny.
384. Ceviche with hot garlic potatoes (Dinner)
Yes, it's potatoes again.
Ceviche is a South American (I think) way of preparing fish, in which very thin slices of super-fresh fish are steeped in an acidic marinade (citrus juice, vinegar etc), until cooked. "Cooked" here is a chemical term rather than a culinary one. You see, when you cook meat (a protein), you apply heat to it, which denatures the protein molecules (i.e. changing the meat from "raw" to "cooked"). When you make ceviche, the same protein denaturing occurs, but it is caused by a change in the pH levels rather than by heat. It takes longer and doesn't denature the proteins as much as heat would, but I suppose that's the point.
(By the way, please excuse any confusion in my explanation of protein denaturization - I did do chemistry at high school, but that was 5 years ago, and now that I'm an arts student, the mind does tend to get a bit fuzzy).
Nigella says to use a combination of salmon, scallops and turbot (huh?). I didn't know what turbot was, and certainly wasn't in the mood to Google it - I'm currently working on all my final essays for the semester, which means I'm getting a bit sick of our good friend Google - so I omitted it. I was quite keen to try scallops, but am suspicious of their freshness. I once saw super-fresh ones, the little muscles still quivering, on Nick Nairn's program, but that's Scotland. I'm sure I could find properly fresh scallops if I really tried, but at any fishmonger or supermarket close by, they're frozen and watery and quite feral. So we just used salmon.
Luckily, my friend Frances who was coming over for dinner offered to go buy me salmon at a market close to her house, and delivered it to my house in the early arvo. (As I was preparing lunch.)
I sliced it up, arranged it in a dish, and poured over the marinade - a mixture of lemon, lime and orange juices, and balsamic vinegar. It needs about 6 hours to marinate.
About an hour before Frances was due to arrive, I cooked the hot garlic potatoes. I'm not going to explain them. You've seen them (and I've eaten them!) enough in this past week. But goodness, they are delicious. I'd always recommend making a few extra for you to munch on as you finish preparing your meal.
When I took the salmon out of the fridge, I couldn't tell if it was sufficiently "cooked" to be ceviche, because it still looked quite rare.
However, upon closer inspection, I saw a small bit of fish that had not been covered by the marinade, and it still looked totally raw. Thus, I concluded that the rest of the fish was indeed, cooked enough. Take a look.
The fish is served tossed through watercress (I used rocket, my usual substitute), with the garlic roast potatoes, and some of the marinade as a dressing.
Ceviche with hot garlic potatoes
It was good! So light and refreshing. The salmon was rich and tender, the potatoes were crunchy, the rocket was peppery and light. A wonderful combination.