Friday, April 16, 2010

Sunday Ceviche Sessions

Sunday Ceviche Sessions

It is a gorgeous day. A beautiful blue sky contrasts gloriously with the golden sun, as a pacific sea breeze sweeps gently across your skin. Your anticipation has been building for days, although it seems much longer. A deliberately tiny breakfast has left you wanting. It is your first time. He stands before you with a knowing smile. And with great pride, places their crowning jewel before your eyes. Tentatively you lift your fork and slowly, ever so gently, place a piece into your mouth.

It´s fresh, sharp, yet cool, with a subtle chili kick. It literally melts in your mouth. Time stands still as your stare absentmindedly into the opposing wall, with a ridiculously stupid grin on your face. Welcome to a new world. You may wonder what has just happened, if it were a dream, perhaps a vision. No. It was real. Behold good people, the Ceviche experience. Welcome to Lima and welcome to Peru the reigning food capital of Latin America.

There are numerous food wonders to be experienced in Peru. I could waffle endlessly about tacu-tacu (a rice and bean mix usually served with fresh seafood in ricotta source...yum), sushi (it is amazing here), lomo saltado (a traditional meat, tomato and potato stir fry dish...a fusion of traditional Chinese Peruvians cuisine (note: a large number of Chinese people have been immigrating to Peru since the 19th Century) and tres leches (a simple yet addictive desert, satisfaction guaranteed). However for me, it´s all about the Ceviche, the most amazing seafood experience in the world, simple, fresh and perfect.

In order to be able to replicate this experience for myself, I enlisted the help of a local Ceviche addict to mentor me in the ways of the Ceviche. And so under the blue Arequipan sky, Ceviche Sunday was born.

On a basic level Ceviche is raw fish marinated in a lime based mix and served cold and fresh with boiled sweet potato and corn. Traditionally, Ceviche is a lunch dish and as such it´s an early rise for the freshest ingredients...First stop...Pascados Mercado's (fish markets). There are a number of fish varieties which can be used in Ceviche such as, Perico, Langueard, Corvina or Ojo de Uva. For those of you not living close to Latin American piscados, basically you need a fish (corvina, halibut, sea bass, tilapia, sole) with a strong texture, that won´t fall apart too easily and light flavor (so the fishyness (technical term) doesn´t overpower the lime/chili flavors). A trick is to cut the fish pieces (cubed approx 2 x2 cm) on an angle. Experts and addicts’ believe this assists in the absorption of flavors. Other ingredients include, a whole lot (about 10 limes) of freshly squeezed lime juice (3/4 squeezed, apparently you don´t squeeze the last bit of juice out of the lime as this is too acidic), garlic, red chilies (please remember to refrain from any none Ceviche related activities before washing your hands ;), a red onion, coriander, aji-no-moto (found in all good Chinese superstores) salt, pepper and boiled sweet potato's and/or corn to serve. While not going into the finer details of the recipe, I would strongly advise to drop via Lima (numerous restaurant recommendations can be provided) and taste before attempting this at home. I´m delighted to say that Ceviche Sunday was an absolute success! A very leisurely Sunday afternoon was spent on the rooftop of an inner city Hostel; gazing out onto the nearby snowcapped volcanoes, while enjoying ice cold beers and mountains of delicious Ceviche. Yet again the power of simple fresh ingredient's combines to create a national food obsession.

Note: Please excuse food presentation in all photos, as on each and all occasions I was unable to refrain from eating long enough to take a before shot.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Considering how anal I can be about where ingredients come from and taking things back to first principles (irritatingly so), I completely suck at measuring for recipes. I just can't seem to grasp the idea. But with icecream I tried, I really did. I could think of nothing better than home made icecream, every person who'd made me icecream was held with the same acclaim as Greek Gods and it was all fantastic. I however, suck at icecream. Can never get the right consistency, never get in frozen enough, just not right.

So The Wife s away adding to the greater knowledge of the world this week and I felt like some desert. Comfort food. I threw a few egg yolks and some sugar and a touch of cornflour into a bowl and whisked it up. While the potatoes boiled I put another a dish over the top and heated some cream. Mixed it all together and put it back over the potatoes. As I mixed it thickened nicely and I threw in some sultanas, feeling some unnatural optimism in the way it was all progressing. There was some dark chocolate in the fridge so that went in too. It was really nice thickness now so I took it off the pan and whisked in a touch of rum.

I then reclined on the couch and sampled some of the awesomeness that is Jason Statham taking his shirt off every five minutes to kick some badguys arse. I took the custard out of the freezer every ten minutes or so and gave it a bit of a stir. Heaps less stress than using an icecream machine. Strangely I seemed to be able to easily pick up the plot of the movie despite my absences.

Just before bed it looked to be just right. I tasted. I fell to the floor in rapture, thanking the O mighty Crema, goddess of puddings and sorbets, who must have been watching over me.

It was that good.

-- Post From My iPhone

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Food & Wine blogging tips

Apparently the recent Melbourne Food & Wine Festival included amongst its many offerings a special get-together for food-bloggers. While I only made it to a few token events (mainly the freebie ones) and definitely didn't get to this one - they do have some of the presentations available online thanks to the amazing interwebby thingie...

Just click here!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Get some pork on your fork

Doc Y here. I do a fair amount of weekend roasts because they're cheap, they're simple, and let's face it, the weather in the Deep South of NZ is usually conducive to it. The folks and bro are over here at the moment and I have a big leg of pork to do today, but the standard issue roast pork/gravy/apple sauce/roast veg combo isn't really doing it for me. Even crackling isn't selling it to me, even though once a man is tired of crackling, he is tired of life. So I'm going to have a stab at doing it Chinese style. Never done it before. Little idea how. It's another train wreck in slow motion from our series (if a series of one previous entry counts as a series) where Dr Yobbo liveblogs the assembly of dishes he has no idea how to make and everyone ducks and hides from the flying shrapnel.

This is a mashup of a bunch of Chinese roast pork dishes on the Magical InterGoogle; the authentic Cantonese dish is siew yuk (which sounds like a three year old's response to boiled sprouts) and is usually made with nice lardy pork belly. Here I'm also lacking a few other authenticators like rice vinegar and red fermented bean curd - your local Asian supermarket or the international randomness aisle of Woolies should see you right if you want to go proper legit like. I'm just going with the traditional Macgyver School Of Cookery approach where we bodge it together from whatever stuff is in the cupboard.

Leg thereof, a bit over 2.3kg. Around 6 grownups to feed, less one conscientious objector - it's Jesus-On-A-Stick Day after all. As such I've managed to annoy the Catholics, the Jews and even (given that this isn't particularly halal) the Islamabads with this dish, so if you have any friends with imaginary friends to cook for today, I might be giving this one a swerve.

Smashing together a marinade around midmorning - just in the baking dish the pork will eventually roast in, for want of a better location. It'll rest in the fridge most of the day. These are large volumes because it's a large slab of oink, reduce proportionally for smaller cuts.

3/4 cup soy sauce - half dark and normal, since that's what I had
1/3 cup honey
2/3 cup hoi sin sauce
1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce
2/3 cup dry sherry (here subbing for the rice vinegar, should result in a more caramelized flavour)
1 tbsp crushed garlic (say 3-4 cloves)
2 tsp crushed ginger
1 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder

Whisk it all up and drown the bastard. Chuck in the fridge, turning every hour or two.

Have a coffee while you're waiting.

While that's marinading I'll tell you about a recipe I bashed together with help from the old man the other day. By help I mean... well, we had plans to make a big lasagne and he said he was bringing over some Italian sausage to use for the meat. What he brought over was Italian flavoured supermarket sausages. Hmmm.

Worked, though. Helps that NZ supermarket mystery bags are actually pretty bloody good (as they'd want to be at $10 a kg or more.) The Italian ones are mostly beef (ish) with lots of garlic, chilli and spice in them. Grilled them for a little while just to firm them up enough to dice finely, then threw them in the electric wok with some finely diced onion, zucchini (bit of random greenery for fibre) and portabello mushrooms. Bit of mince to bolster the snaggage. Set all that aside, reduced some canned tomatoes with some pasta sauce and half a cup each of leftover cab sauv and pinot noir, reintroduced the goods, bit more chilli and garlic, chopped capsicum and fresh herbs as late as I could get away with, then once that was more solid than liquid, layered out a lasagne using a commercial bechamel (you can make your own if you want to waste your time pointlessly), Barilla lasagne sheets and grated cheddar/mozzarella, with a bit of grated parmesan to crisp up the lid.

Bloody noice.

I'll be back to finish the Chinese roast pork story later today or tomorrow, but til then - The Doctor is OUT.


Howzit. Dr Yobbo here, taking up the story from where we left off yesterday.

So, get your big slab of pork out. Of the fridge. Drain off the marinade, keep it for basting purposes. Get the oven preheating - you'll need to keep the roast temp down a little to account for the burnable sugars in the marinade, it'll inevitably blacken a bit but if you shove it in at 180 it'll look like the BBQ snag which fell into the campfire and was forgotten until sunrise. 165-170 (Celsius) should do it, figure 40 mins per half kilo at that temp, basting regularly with the residual marinade. You can reduce it down into a glaze for serving if you want to.

Vegies to go with? I went with red kumara, which I understand isn't as common in Australia as it is over here (or as is the more prevalent orange varieties.) This has a deep brown-red-magenta skin and a creamy yellow flesh, often with purple vein structures through it. It's a little less sweet and starchy as the orange varieties, and tends to be cheaper as well. Given that the pork locked us in to a lower roast temp than maybe you'd want, I went for fairly large bits, basically just halving them. Gave them a bit of a slosh-around in some oil with paprika and salt - more typically I'd go for olive oil, garlic, rosemary etc but didn't figure that'd work with the Asian elements of the pork - and in for about an hour or so. That, and some nice broccoli to offer a bit of greenery.

Verdict: Went well. If I was to do it again I'd probably roast it at lower temp for longer - outer edges were quite dry, yet not entirely cooked at the bone - and add vinegar to the marinade to aid penetration and bitter-up some of that residual sweetness. That said, there were no complaints. Put it this way - even the conscientious objector decided to forget it was Good Friday for the purposes of this lot. Mother Focaccia - food worth going to hell for.

The Doctor is OUT.