Monday, 2 January 2012

Ceviche for breakfast?



Day two of the hangover and we need to do something. I always look forward to a fishing trip, although the excitement is diluted by novice-nerves and the goading of rationality, which confidently predicts frustration – but hey, you never know!  

We have lived the dream. On almost my first trip, on the dingle peninsular, west coast of Ireland, we hit gold. My torchlight caught a silver flicker through the frothy shallows. It was an instant of intense adrenaline injection – I hadn’t even been sure there was anything on the line. Incredibly, a fat and most un-stinky fishy thing bounced onto the beach. A seabass! Crikey, crumbs and carruthers! A real one... A big one... And I had caught it! Blimey... It was truly one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life! Dot and I danced about, whooping and laughing in the black deserted bay. The tide had decided we start as the sun was setting, on a craggy wee cove down the road from our cottage. Pleasingly, the darkness had settled and camouflaged the cack-handedness of our efforts. We’d been there less than an hour.  It all seemed so unlikely. So much sea, a little half-dead worm: I’d made bacon stew for when we came back, cold and confused...
Bollocks to bacon stew! We skipped home early – why bother carry on? It was time for a feast!



The tail went for a ceviche starter, leaving two fat steaks, garnished with a bit of my stew. It was one of my Greatest Ever Moments! We got up early for the next high tide and caught two more!! We were the finest fishermen alive!!!
My brother in law is from Peru and a very good cook. He taught me how to make ceviche. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate really fresh fish. It’s dead easy, and (handily for the beach) doesn’t involve any cooking. In Peru they eat it for breakfast and use bass, as I rather smugly did that day. Bream is good too, but gurnard, and, a recent discovery, weever (vive in French) are my personal preference. Fresh-caught mackerel is another winner*.

Whatever your fish, it has to be filleted, skinned and pin-boned, and then chopped into healthy bite-sized pieces. Crush up a scrap of garlic with some salt, season your fish with this and some more salt and pepper, a sprinkle of ground cumin, plus a bit of finely chopped chilli (or cayenne, or piment d’espelette, but fresh and red is best). Give it all a mix and squeeze over the juice of a lemon or lime (not jiff!). Mix again and taste the juice. Add more of any ingredient, if need be, to make it zingy but balanced: sweet, spicy and delicious!

Put the lot on a nice plate and cover with thin slices of red onion or shallots (and celery if you like) and some barely-chopped coriander or parsley leaves (I prefer coriander).

Leave for 5 – 20 mins for the citrus to cook the fish. The fresher the fish, the nicer it is raw, and so the less time you will have to wait! Eat on wintery French beach** with plenty of bread to mop up the juices! Yum!

a memorable breakfast. cooked on driftwood on the beach where it was caught.
I've since been told that it was below the legal size. Ooops! We honestly didn't know...
France hasn’t been so kind. Numerous trips and not a sausage. My utter incompetence is embarrassing. I have no idea what I’m doing and can’t bring myself to advertise this by asking a local fisherman for help. I’m basically hoping for another dose of beginner’s luck...
Hope springs eternal though. Today, as always, my tackle box contains a lemon, a bag of salt and pepper, and some piment d’espelette. Be prepared, innit.


Happy new year! Tight lines...





* Basically, any very fresh fish is good. White and meaty, as a general rule. Mackerel has to be spanking fresh, or it might be a bit stinky...

** Hopefully, one day...




Shocked!

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