what if the octopus, the flounder and the cod think we’re rather odd

I’ve said it before here, that despite living in a country both surrounded and infiltrated by water, Tim and I just don’t eat a lot of fish. It’s not like it is that hard to come by, we just…don’t. (Yeah, cool story, bro.)

But – hold on to your hats – sometimes we just do.
Last Sunday night I made ceviche, a dish where raw fish is cured – and ultimately cooked without heat – through the mystical magic of citrus juice. Nigella Lawson has this recipe in Nigella Express where you chop the fish up small so that it only takes about ten minutes for the juice to ‘cook’ it – like a photograph developing before your eyes. Nigella suggests serving it on rounds of toasted bread or with tortilla chips but not having either, I piled the cooked-but-raw fish on top of lettuce, with crisp celery, juicy tomato slices, and soft chunks of avocado.
We loved it. But if fish that doesn’t look like fish-fingers makes you nervous, well, this might not change your mind. But don’t feel bad – I love fish fingers, I’m sure we had them at least once or twice a week for dinner when I was growing up. They have their place.
Chopped Ceviche

250g skinless and boneless black cod or monkfish fillet (or any fish that suits being eaten raw – I used red cod, it was the cheapest.)
1/2 a teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt or a small pinch table salt
80mls lime juice (I basically went with the juice of three limes, I don’t see this measurement as sacred)
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped (I used red)
Bunch of coriander, chopped

Chop the fish finely into tiny dice. Place it in a shallow wide dish (I used a silicon caketin) and sprinkle with the oregano and salt and pour over the lime juice. Leave for eight minutes, shaking the dish occasionally or moving the fish around gently with a spatula to make sure it’s all mixed in. The fish should go from pinkish and pearly to a definite opaque white. It must be fun to watch with something like salmon.

Drain the fish, and mix in the spring onions, chilli and coriander. Then you’re done!

So, you could serve these as Nigella suggests, on top of grilled bread or with tortilla chips. Or you could have it in a wrap, or make a superfresh salad like I did – for raw fish, it is surprisingly practical stuff.

As you can probably tell by the solitary sprig on top of the salad, our coriander plant is more ‘gasping’ than ‘flourishing’.
The fish is soft-textured and intensely flavoured by the lime. The zinging lime and creamy avocado cool down the hot chilli and the lettuce, I don’t know, makes it better for you and gives a bit of crunch. Is anyone out there passionate about lettuce? I could eat a bowlful of avocados but lettuce I’m neither here nor there on. It’s filler material, it tastes fine but there’s things I’d rather eat, like cheese on toast.
Anyway, this ceviche was so good that we made it again for dinner this week. It’s so fast and while the fish is busily morphing (or evolving, for you rogue Pokemon fans out there) you can busy yourself getting the accompaniments ready. It’s fresh and light, and while it would be perfect in the middle of summer, the heat of the chilli and the eye-opening flavours are just right in winter if you’re getting a little over stews and mash potato (hey, it happens.)
Hopefully this all makes sense, because I’m feeling a little weary. On Saturday we stayed up till 5am dancing, not something we do that often, but it was a fun night – it was our temporary flatmate’s birthday (our actual flatmate is on holiday in Canada) and as well as nestling into some haunts we already knew, we discovered some more, met some awesome people, and between Tim and myself, even found 80 cents on the ground (is that sad? If so: whatever.) We’re lucky in Wellington – if the agenda of the night is buying expensive yet tiny drinks, then at least there are plenty of exceptionally good-looking settings to do it in.
Title via: Um, Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Actually, forget that “um.” This film is flawless. Angela Lansbury is one of the most bodacious babes on earth, and don’t think I’m trying to be ironic when I say that. She’s an awesome lady. You thought you liked the zero-gravity fight scene in Inception? Wait till you see Angela and David Tomlinson’s underwater dance in Beautiful Briny Sea. Now those are effects that are special.
Music lately:
Tim and I have started re-watching The Wire from Season 1. Everyone talks about The Wire and how great it is and I have already plenty of times so I won’t add to that here. It has been described as “slow-moving” and “worth the effort” but in rewatching, it feels fast-paced, the roles and connections between each character are easier to remember, and hints of things that transpire later in the season are easier to pick up on. Which is probably not so comforting if you’re 25 minutes in thinking “wait, who’s the good guys here? Is this going to wrap up soon?” The theme tune is Tom Waits’ Way Down In The Hole, sung in the first season by The Blind Boys of Alabama. They know a thing or two about how to deliver a tune well – this is typically brilliant stuff from them. I like how the intro keeps you waiting a little longer than you’re used to.
Audra McDonald’s take on Gershwin’s Someone To Watch Over Me. (In a nice segue, McDonald totally resembles Wendy Grantham, who shines as Shardeen in Season 1 of The Wire) As well as being a fantastic actress, any song is lucky to be sung by her beautiful, beautiful soprano voice.
Next time: I’ve been baking hardout this weekend so there’s plenty to choose from for next time. I realise there’s been some space between blog posts lately – will try to counteract that by following this one up a bit more snappily!

7 thoughts on “what if the octopus, the flounder and the cod think we’re rather odd

  1. Hannah says:

    Eeep! I've been meaning to make ceviche for so. so. long. You know, as in years. I'm really interested by the flavours you've used here – I'm used to ceviches being more “Asian-inspired”, but this look mighty tasty.

    Maybe one day soon I'll actually get around to it…

    P.S. 80c? That's, like, a McDonald's soft serve cone. WOOT, right? Right?


  2. Georgi Hampton says:

    Ceviche reminds me a lot of a dish my friend's mum used to make – they were Tongan. Similar but with larger bits of fish, and with a coconut milk-based dressing. It was good!

    Also bedknobs and broomsticks is the man! Although I like the book better, probably because I read it before watching the movie.

    Lastly yesterday I found 20c at a coffee store and I was stoked.. 🙂


  3. Laura @ Hungry and Frozen says:

    Hannah: Me too – I don't know what took me so long!
    PS I hate the taste (although I grew up eating HEAPS of them) but here in NZ soft serves are 50c 😀

    Georgi: I'd love to try a more Pacific style ceviche one day – I love coconut milk! Bedknobs and Broomsticks is totally the man. I didn't realise there was a book – definitely looking it up 😀


  4. Kay says:

    It looks very healthy! I have just been reading the Herald promotional insert for the Auckland Food show this weekend. Tempting?


  5. Anonymous says:

    I well remember making this dish in the days when the fish was caught out at the coast, or the harbour, and I doubt if limes were even available. But I did make it with lemon juice to “cook” it and had finely sliced onion, with red and green peppers, and definitely the coconut milk. The main thing is the freshness of the fish. Your Nana xoxox


  6. Hannah says:

    In all honesty, I have *no* idea how much those soft serves are now! I remember they were 30c when I was 11, so I just took a stab in the dark at potential inflation. And I agree on the taste! This may sound weird, but for some reason they always just tasted like sugared fat to me?!


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