David, our fantastic guide from Lima Gourmet Company, plops us down in front of a bowl of raw fish.
“It’s a mild white fish,” David explains. “Sea bass, cut into small chunks. It’s very fresh.” He gestures at the restaurant behind us, which is quickly filling with lunchtime guests:
“Here in Lima, we eat ceviche at lunch, not dinner. By dinner, the fish just isn’t fresh enough.”
Since I love sushi, the bowl of raw meat doesn’t bother me in the least. And the fish is fresh: it’s pale, firm, and has absolutely no fishy smell at all. Even so, Clyde has his doubts:
No, seriously: we’re both up for the adventure. Next thing we know, we’re scooping up the ingredients for our first self-made ceviche. First into the bowl? A “secret sauce” (made with mayo, garlic, and peppers), some fresh onion (frozen to make it crisp), a pinch of cilantro, a pinch of salt, a few drops of some very hot pepper sauce, and, of course, the key lime juice — acidic enough to “cook” the fish in just two minutes:
I stir and stir. When David says, “Taste the juice,” I balk — but only a little. My soup is good, but too limey. “Add fish broth to round it out,” David says — and he’s right — that works.
White ceramic bowls appear. David tells us to build a little Machu Pichu of ceviche in the middle. “Make a mountain,” he says. “Heap it up, then pour the liquid over it.” When that’s done, he passes us the tray of sweet potato and white corn — the local garnish of choice:
Frankly? I’m proud of my first effort:
It looks good enough to eat, in fact … so that’s exactly what we do. I’m a little hesitant with my first forkful, but the explosion of flavor — the sharp tang of the citrus, the bite of the hot sauce, the creaminess of the mayo and garlic, the cool firmness of the fish — removes any doubts I have about my own ceviche-making skills.
Clyde’s is equally delicious, making the two of us happy little ceviche chefs: