Cebiche — also known as ceviche — was born in Peru, and the fresh, acid-cooked seafood dish takes on many delicious iterations all around the world. Inspired by a version of that’s popular in Lima, this cebiche recipe from Julio-Cesar Florez is topped with crispy, golden-fried octopus — which delivers the perfect warm crunch to contrast with the tasty cold fish. The fish itself (you can go with striped bass, longfin yellowtail or even mahi mahi — just make sure it’s fresh!) is soaked in a tangy liquid that Peruvians call “leche de tigre,” or “tiger’s milk.” Some see leche de tigre as an aphrodisiac or a hangover cure, while others just see it as delicious! However you think of it, be sure to pick up your bowl and sip the delicious liquid up when you’re done eating the fish.
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Active Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Soybean oil, for deep frying
3 oz boiled octopus, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 ½ tsp garlic puree
All-purpose flour, for coating
1 tsp minced aji limo or other hot chile pepper
1 tsp finely chopped cilantro
5 oz very fresh fish fillet; striped bass, almaco jack (longfin yellowtail) and mahi mahi are good choices
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
Lettuce leaves, for serving
1 sweet potato, boiled, peeled and cut into ½-inch-thick slices
Boiled choclo kernels (see Cook’s Note), for serving
Cancha corn (see Cook’s Note), for serving
1 red onion, cut into thin strips and soaked in a bowl of cold water
Special Equipment: a deep fryer (optional), deep-fry thermometer
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1. Heat a few inches of oil in a deep fryer or small heavy pot set over medium-high heat until it reaches 350ºF on a deep-fry thermometer. Put the pieces of octopus in a bowl and toss with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the garlic puree. Place flour in a shallow bowl and coat the pieces of octopus evenly with flour. Shake off the excess flour, place the octopus in the oil and fry until golden. Drain on a rack or paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
2. Combine the aji limo, cilantro, remaining 1 teaspoon garlic puree and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl and mash with the bottom of a spoon. Cut the fish into 1/2-inch-thick slices and place in the bowl with the aji limon. Sprinkle the fish with salt and toss to coat evenly. Set aside for 2 minutes, then add the lime juice and toss again.
3. Line a plate with lettuce leaves. Place the sweet potato, choclo kernels and cancha on one side. Next to it, place the cebiche, along with the liquid in the bowl (”leche de tigre”). Top with drained strips of red onion and fried octopus and enjoy.
Cook’s Note: Cebiche is not a dish eaten very cold; it tastes better when the ingredients are room temperature, so don’t worry about chilling the ingredients or the plates it’s served on. Choclo corn is a Peruvian variety with very large kernels, often sold boiled and frozen. Cancha corn is a kind of toasted corn similar to corn nuts. You can buy both types of corn in some larger supermarkets and in grocery stores catering to Peruvian or South American customers, or find them online.
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