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Ecua-Mama's Cucina

Passport & Plate - White Fish Ceviche with patacones

Ecuador | Saturday, 28 February 2015 | 5 photos

For the ceviche:

1lb or 0.5kg of seabass
1 red onion or 4 shallots
6 limes, juiced
1 serrano or half habanero chilli
Bunch coriander(cilantro)
1-2 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
Salt to taste

For the patacones:

2 plantains
1 garlic clove
50g streaky bacon
100ml olive oil
Salted water


How to prepare this recipe
For the ceviche:

Thinly slice the onions and place in a bowl. Add salt, and cover with warm water.
Let it sit for 10 minutes before draining and rinsing with cold water.
De-skin and thinly slice the seabass, ensuring all bones have been removed. Place in a glass or plastic bowl.
Add the lime juice, washed onion slices, chillies, a few sprigs of coriander, the garlic clove, and salt.
Cover and leave to marinate for at least four hours in the fridge.
During this time make the patacones (below)
Remove chillies, coriander sprigs and the garlic.
Finely chop the coriander and add to the fish and onions.
Add olive oil to everything and mix well.
Taste adding additional salt if needed.
Garnish with patacones and bacon lardons.

For the patacones:

Peel the plantains. When these are fresh in Ecuador they can be tough to peel. using a knife and running the whole thing under water can help loosen the skin.
Cut into 1.5 inch thick slices.
Peel the garlic clove and rub it vigorously around the whole inside of a heavy bottomed pan.
Add a little of the oil and heat on medium.
Dice the bacon into lardons and add to pan.
Heat for a few minutes until the bacon fat has melted into the oil, and the lardons have turned golden.
Set bacon aside for garnish.
Add the plantain slices to the pan, turning once until golden both sides. (About 3 mins a side)
Slide them into bowl of salted water to cool.
From here, take one at a time and squash using a bowl or plate. Set aside onto kitchen towel. You ideally want them to look like little discs with a fluffy outside.
Heat the rest of the oil on medium and return the flattened plantains to the heat.
Cook until golden, finally sprinkling with salt.

Ceviche is often served with salted popcorn, which I cook in the same heavy bottomed pan as the patacones and liberally add to the top of the ceviche.


The story behind this recipe
Some five years ago I first flew across the Pacific to volunteer on the Galapagos. Through tired eyes the archipelago shape-shifted beneath the plane; foreshadowing my experiences of these islands forced into existence along the belching belly of the earth. Things in Galapagos are not quite as they seem. Rocks reveal themselves to be turtles or iguanas. Pink bananas decorate the jungles, and layers of lava make up the shores.
After reforestation and tending crops for 2 weeks in the mountains where the sugar cane provides sweet relief from the midday sun, I decided to stay on San Cristobal.

Chatting to Señora Cabezas, I managed to find a small room with private bathroom for another two months. Central enough to pick up the excitement from the soccer grounds, the hustle and bustle faded to hoof and horn through the night. Morning was broken by cockerels up and down the mountains and the heady sun snaking through cracks in the blinds.

By day, I picked fruit in the mountains and forged a relationship from the fires of my passion for people and food, as Señora Cabezas taught me cooking, all the while conversing only in Spanish. At around 3, I'd prep for my lessons and then take evening classes from 5-7 every day. Afterwards heading to drink with friends in bars. During my time there, I became very fond of Señora Cabezas and her family, who were all very welcoming, and took me on family excursions.

Plantains, yams, sugar cane, coffee, oranges and avocados permeated the air, the zingy zest of lime threaded throughout cantinas. I wanted to know how to make good ceviche, and Señora took me with her to buy fish, fresh from the Pacific. A truck would turn up loaded with different colours. Lisa, a type of mullet, was cheap and had a good flesh for making ceviche, Señora informed me.

Now living on a peninsula, I am still surrounded by waters abundant with fresh fish and have found hake, seabass and rock salmon to be excellent in this recipe too.

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