VEGAN CEVICHE (V+, R, GF, GrF, NF, P)

After 6 long weeks 'on the road' and a rather bumpy, arduous and exhausting 20-odd hour trip door-to-door, we're home. Though it hasn't quite sunken in yet, I must confess. You see, I still keep getting confused about what time of the day it is and what day of the week it is. I am getting all muddled language-wise and speaking more Spanglish than ever. And when I wake up in the morning it takes me a second or two to remember where on earth I actually am.

But that will all pass, I know, as will this mix of emotions I am currently experiencing (saying goodbye is horrible, but coming home is the most amazing feeling ever). Well, it's got to pass presto because I'm going back to work tomorrow and the little one is returning to school on Wednesday :(. So I just have to get on with it, right?!

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And then of course there is the blog to come back to as well, with this blog post going live a few hours later than I would have liked and with nah pictures, but hey I'm so pleased I picked up my neglected camera and put together something that tastes THE BOMB! is super healthy AND is a homage to my 5-week stay in Ecuador. Sure, I'm muddled for words, a bit all over the place and not particularly eloquent today, but that's just how it goes sometimes!

Thanks for sticking with me and I hope you enjoy the recipe.

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VEGAN CEVICHE (V+, R, GF, GrF, NF, P)

So what is ceviche? Well, it's traditionally a dish made in Peru and Ecuador using raw fish that's marinaded in lime and/or lemon juice. The acidity of the lime essentially 'cooks' the fish and gives it a very fresh, distinct, citrus-y flavour. The level of acidity is pumped up another notch by the tomatoes which form part of a good ceviche ;). As you know I do sometimes eat raw fish and traditional ceviche is one of the few non-plant based foods I occasionally consume. Nonetheless I was keen to make a vegan version for the blog that was just as good as it's fishy counterpart. 

There are several quite common ways to do this. Firstly, you can replace the fish with pickled artichokes which is how you find vegan ceviche presented in touristy parts of Ecuador. Personally, I am not a fan at all. Sorry. Secondly, you can just leave out the fish all together and let the core plant-based ingredients of the ceviche take centre stage. When presented in this way, the vegan ceviche is usually referred to as an 'encurtido', a semi-pickled side salad eaten alongside almost everything in Ecuador and a kind of daily staple. To make it work every element needs to be spot on. So no pressure there then.

I used tomatoes from the garden which tasted rather lovely (*feeling smug*), though normally you'd probably use red tomatoes. I also cut them the way I did (i.e. half moon shaped) for food photography purposes, as an authentic version would just see you cutting them up into little squares. And lastly I ALWAYS use lemons, but again for the sake of aesthetics, I used green lime here. Remember, I've got lots of tips about how to get this recipe spot on at the end, so please do read carefully before having a go yourself :).

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Preparation Time: 15 – 20 minutes
Serves: 2 as a main, 4 as a starter/side dish

Ingredients:
2 (organic) onions
1 teaspoon of salt
water
2 ripe (organic) tomatoes
2-3 (organic) lemons
a sprinkle of salt

Ingredients for the garnish (optional):
1 (organic) spring onion
a handful of (organic) parsley or coriander

Instructions:
Cut the onions in small slices or squares. Sprinkle with salt. Massage the salt into the cut onions and squeeze out the water from the onions. Do so for about 5 minutes, You should see an sort of soapy water come out of the onions. Then wash the onions for 2-3 minutes under running water and continue to squeeze out the onion's juices. This is really the key step to a good ceviche so take your time. You don't want the onion to be overpowering and literally leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. Drain well.

When done, squeeze the juice of the lemons (or limes) over the onions, mix well and set aside.

Cut the tomatoes and combine with the onions.

For the garnish, finely chop the spring onion and parsley/coriander and combine these two ingredients.
Add salt to the onion/tomato mixture to taste and sprinkle some garnish on top.

Serve with ...popcorn (the best), sliced avocado (so good), chochos or lupini beans (as shown in this recipe. You can buy them in specialist Ecuadorian, Spanish or Portuguese food shops. They are amazing, mild-tasting fermented plant-based protein powerhouses!), tostado (as shown in this recipe, another amino acid superhero, though hard to come by outside South America, so be warned) or just some good old rice.

Tip 1: You can use white or red onions. It doesn't matter, though at home we always go for red.
Tip 2: As mentioned before, I normally use red tomatoes, but it actually doesn't matter as long as the tomatoes are ripe, fleshy and ready.
Tip 3: Lemons are your best bet, though lime with give it more of a sweet flavour, so it's actually down to personal choice. Some people even replace one of the lemons with the an orange for a sweeter hint.
Tip 4: You can also add a tablespoon of ketchup, though this is usually only done in the fishy version. But, hey, have a go and see what you make of it.
Tip 5: This dish is packed full of prebiotics and so super for digestion PLUS with the traditional chochos and tostado on the side, a MEGA injection of amino acids. Who said plant-based foodies can't get their protein?!

Looking for more Ecuadorian/South American inspired food, why not try my Andean Cabbage Curry or my patatas-not-so-bravas.

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