Andes Cafe Chef David Guerrero

Image: Todd Spoth

“Ceviche is how you feel that day,” says Ecuadorian-born chef David Guerrero. “Today, I want it spicy.” 

We’re standing in the tiny kitchen of the Andes Café, a casual East End restaurant specializing in South American street food that Guerrero opened last year. He explains that ceviche originated in Peru as a simple lunch for fishermen; as it spread across South America, countless regional variations emerged, but they’re all based on five fundamental ingredients: raw white fish, onions, lime juice, salt and pepper. He makes his with nage, or fish stock.

Guerrero first learned how to cook the dish not in his native Ecuador but in New Jersey, where he worked at a Peruvian restaurant shortly after immigrating to America as a teenager. By the way, the Peruvians also taught him how to make a hangover cocktail of beer and leche de tigre—a milky concoction of lime juice, ginger and celery. The post-libation libation is available as an off-the-menu option at Andes.


 

Ceviche de Pescado

Yield: 2 servings

For the ceviche:

  • 1 sea bass or any white fish (drum, flounder, snapper, grouper) filet, 4–6 oz, cut into small pieces
  • 1 t. garlic paste
  • 1 t. cilantro, chiffonaded
  • 1 t. Peruvian aji pepper (for more spice, you can use red jalapeño or habanero peppers), minced
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1/4 t. white pepper
  • 4 T. lime juice, divided
  • 2 T. nage (fish broth; see recipe below)
  • 1 t. evaporated milk
  • 1 leaf iceberg lettuce, chilled in ice water
  • 1/2 red onion, julienned 

For the nage:

  • 1 sea bass or any white fish filet, 4–6 oz
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 part of a quartered whole white onion
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 1/8 c. sherry vinegar
  • 1 sprig cilantro
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1/4 t. white pepper
  • 2 T. unsalted butter

To make nage:

  1. Poach fish filet for 8–10 minutes in medium skillet over medium-high heat in 1 qt. water along with garlic, onion, white wine, sherry vinegar, cilantro, sea salt and white pepper.
  2. Remove fish, add butter and continue cooking until sauce is slightly reduced and emulsified. Set sauce aside.

To make ceviche:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, add cut-up fish, and, in this order, salt, white pepper, garlic paste, cilantro, aji pepper. Mix with fish.
  2. Add 2 T. lime juice and let mixture sit for 3–5 minutes to cook the fish. Add one ice cube to prevent fish being overcooked by the acidity of the lime.
  3. Add nage and evaporated milk. Mix well and set aside. Season one more time with a pinch of sea salt. 
  4. Place iceberg lettuce leaf in a deep bowl to serve with half the julienned red onions.
  5. Top lettuce and onions with marinated fish and garnishes.

Garnish with:

  • 1 slice sweet potato, roasted in a sugar glaze
  • 2 T. choclo (South American giant kernel corn); you can also use standard yellow corn
  • 2 T. canchita (South American dried corn), found in Latin American markets like Fiesta
  • remaining red onion
  • 2 slices aji pepper or any spicy pepper of your preference
  • remaining lime juice

Tips & Tricks:

Go Fish: Guerrero recommends using fresh sea bass or grouper, although any white fish will do.

Lime Time: Guerrero hand-selects his limes from local markets like Canino’s. Key limes in particular are exceptionally good with ceviche. Look for limes that are firm but not hard; they should smell intensely of lime when you scratch the peel with your nail.

Get Juiced: Guerrero soaks his limes for 20 minutes in a bowl of warm water (some cooks microwave them) before cutting them open and squeezing out half the juice—the remaining juice is bitterer and will change the taste.

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