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Fooderella makes...

Ceviche Ecstasy

Claudia Keller

As a new year's resolution I set myself the goal to publish a blog post once a week (already failed that one…) and to decide on monthly mottos. January's motto is movie, song and book which means that I choose a recipe or foodstuff which feature – more or less prominently – in a movie, book or song.

For today's blogpost I tried out different recipes for Ceviche. Ceviche plays a small but funny role in a key scene of a romantic comedy I watched a couple of times these last few weeks. I am a repeat fanatic. I read Pride and Prejudice at least once a year, I listen almost exclusively to Van Morrison and Leonard Cohen when I am at home and I like watching my favourite films over and over again. I rediscovered the movie featuring Ceviche only recently and admittedly have become a bit obsessed with its romantic lead, Gerard Butler. I blame the Hugo Boss commercial combined with post-pregnancy hormones. Butler's swagger and he grumbling something about being true to yourself made me go on YouTube to look for movie snippets and videos. The first thing that came up was a compilation of scenes from P.S. I love you. Awful stuff! I cannot stand romantic movies in which one of the main characters dies*. It is just not on. Instead I went for a video subtitled "elevator kissing scene" from the movie The Ugly Truth. That was much better. After watching it I remembered having a fabulous girl's night out at the cinema when the movie was released…when I was young… back in 2009. I needed more and ordered the DVD.

In The Ugly Truth morning show producer Abby (Katherine Heigl), in an attempt to win the heart of her new dishy surgeon neighbour Colin (Eric Winter), is reluctantly following relationship advice given by her new morning show commentator Mike (Gerard Butler) who was brought in from his own chauvinistic call-in show the Ugly Truth to boost the ratings. As the story progresses, sparks fly between Abby and Mike and – spoiler alert – in the end relationship phobic Mike and neurotic Abby end up together. The movie received mostly bad reviews and its Rotten Tomato average rating is 3.7/10. The late Roger Ebert praised Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler's performances but complained of the overuse of naughty words and the story's predictability. With so many squeaky clean US rom coms around, I actually enjoy the overuse of the naughty words and the sexual innuendos in the movie. It is no cinematic masterpiece but I love watching Abby and Mike bantering despite the predictability of the plot. One scene in particular struck me as an ideal start off point for this blogpost. It is one of those When-Harry-met-Sally-Fake-Orgasm-in-a-Restaurant-Knock-Off scenes; but a good and very amusing knock off. Abby wears remote-controlled, battery-powered vibrating panties that Mike gave her. In the restaurant she ends up losing the remote control, the boy at the next table picks it up and not knowing what it is for starts pushing the various buttons. A gyrating and moaning Abby tries to convince her dinner party that the excellent Ceviche on her plate is the reason for her ecstatic outburst. One of the female guests at her table whispers to the man sitting next to her "what's in Ceviche?" (see a video of the scene on YouTube).

What's in Ceviche? Good question! What the heck is in Ceviche. I admit I had to turn to Wikipedia to find out. Ceviche sounded Turkish to me but I had no clue as to what it actually was. According to Wikipedia: "Ceviche is a seafood dish popular in the coastal regions of the Americas, especially Central and South America. The dish is typically made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají or chili peppers. Additional seasonings, such as chopped onions, salt, and cilantro, may also be added. Ceviche is usually accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavors, such as sweet potato, lettuce, corn, avocado or plantain. As the dish is not cooked with heat, it must be prepared fresh to minimize the risk of food poisoning. […] Ceviche is nowadays a popular international dish prepared in a variety of ways throughout the Americas, reaching the United States in the 1980s. The greatest varieties of ceviches are found in Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador; but other distinctly unique styles can also be found in coastal Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, the United States, Mexico, Panama, the Caribbean, and several other nations."

To find out which version of Ceviche is most likely to render me ecstatic, I scouted the Internet for recipes. I chose a Peruvian Ceviche recipe (by Jamie Oliver, you find it on his website), a Mexican Ceviche recipe (from mexican.food.com), a Caribbean Ceviche recipe (from Aida Mollenkamp's blog) and a Colombian Ceviche recipe (from the blog mycolombianrecipes.com). I must say that all the juicing of lemons, limes and oranges and the endless chopping of vegetables and herbs was well worth the while. Every recipe tasted delicious. My favourite was the Caribbean Ceviche recipe. My least favourite was Jamie Oliver's recipe as it was a bit bland compared to the rest.

What I learned today is that the varieties of Ceviche must be endless. What it boils down to is seafood steeped in the juice of lemons or limes (sometimes combined with the juice of oranges) and mixed with whatever vegetables, fruit herbs, spices and condiments you fancy. Because I really love scallops I created my own recipe using a mix of fish, scallops and prawns. So here is the recipe for

Claudia’s Ceviche (generous starter for 2):

You need 4 scallops, 4 large prawns, 1 fillet of sole (or any other white fish suitable for Ceviche, it's best to ask your fish monger), 3 limes, fresh ginger, tomato, cucumber, onion, garlic, fresh chili, rice vinegar, sesame oil,  peppermint, parsley, salt and pepper.

Cut the scallops and fillet of sole in chunks (about 2 cm) and steep in the juice of 1-2 limes and 1 heaped teaspoon of freshly grated ginger. I put it in a small plastic bag instead of a bowl. This way you can put it in the fridge and easily give it a little shake once in a while. While the scallops and fish are left in the brine for about 2 hours, cut 1 tomato, 1/4 cucumber, 1/4 onion, 1/4 Chili (about 1 cm) and 1/2 garlic in small cubes. Put it in a bowl big enough to add the sea food later on. Season the veg with 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil. Cook the prawns in boiling water for 1 minute, throw them in some ice water and then cut them into chunks and add to the scallops and fillet of sole. Leave to brine for a further 30 minutes. Before serving, mix the veg and the seafood (drain off most of the lime juice but make sure to keep lots of the grated ginger), add sea salt and pepper to taste as well as some chopped peppermint leaves (only a very few) and parsley.

All 5 Ceviche on the table

All 5 Ceviche on the table

And on the plate

And on the plate

The Caribbean Ceviche

The Caribbean Ceviche

The Colombian Ceviche

The Colombian Ceviche

Claudia's Ceviche

Claudia's Ceviche

Jamie Oliver's Peruvian Ceviche

Jamie Oliver's Peruvian Ceviche

Mexican Ceviche

Mexican Ceviche

Now on a serious note: For me food and blogging about food is great enjoyment and fun. Unfortunately the lack of food is a real and life threatening fact for a lot of people – particularly children - in other parts of the world. After reading my blogpost you might feel the urge to go on YouTube to find movie snippets and other stuff about Gerard Butler. If you do, you will come across a charming and moving video of Gerard visiting Liberia with the charity Mary's Meals (or click here). Mary's Meals aims to provide chronically hungry children with one meal every school day. I decided to donate the equivalent of what I spent on the ingredients for my various Cevice to Mary's Meals. I decided to do this before I realized that getting super fresh fish in Zurich is not easy and expensive. The fish monger at the local supermarked advised me against using their fish for Ceviche as it was not sushi quality. Luckily Wednesday is market day and there is a fish monger who provided great service and fish, scallops and prawns. The visit to the fish mongers alone set me back CHF 48 (for 650g of fresh produce). The rest of the ingredients added another CHF 50 (including a lovely bottle of bubbly). Not a budget meal but money well spent. The same goes for the money donated and  I would like to ask you, dear readers, to make a donation, too, in order to bring food to the tables of more children. #makeitamillion

Love, Claudia

(*unless I get to see 300 well defined naked torsos with rock-hard six-packs for at least 90 minutes)