Exotic raw fish dishes for those who prefer to avoid the stove

kerstin ceviche

kerstin ceviche - Credit: Archant

The last thing you want to do on a humid summer’s day is to make your kitchen even warmer by cooking. The solution? A ‘no cook’ fish dish.

The last thing you want to do on a humid summer’s day is to make your kitchen even warmer by cooking. The solution? Make a ‘no cook’ fish dish, such as ceviche, gravad lax or poke.

You have probably heard of Peruvian ceviche, where raw fish is “cooked” with lime juice, or the Scandinavian gravad lax, where raw fish is cured. The new trend to watch out for is Hawaiian ‘poke’, another raw fish delicacy.

You may wonder about food safety. Some fishmongers claim their fish is ‘sashimi grade’, but this is not a clear-cut standard.

“There is no definition of ‘sashimi grade’ fish,” says Harry Toyoda of T&S Enterprises London Ltd who supply fish to Japanese shops and restaurants. “It’s a grey area.”

For any business to sell raw fish, British health and safety law requires it to be flash frozen, a measure that kills parasites. Toyoda continues: “In Japan no sushi bar would use frozen fish. Freezing salmon is not too bad, but to freeze sea bass is such a shame. It changes the quality and texture.”

The methods in these recipes of “cooking” raw fish render it safe to eat. For the poke, only buy from a fishmonger you trust.

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Peruvian Sea Bass Ceviche Recipe

350g fresh sea bass, skinned, sliced thinly

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

Big handful of fresh coriander, leaves picked off

Juice of 3 limes

1 tsp sea salt (or more, to taste)

1 fresh chilli, red or green, deseeded, sliced thinly

Points are gained if you’ve managed to get hold of aji amarillo. You can buy the paste online, but fresh chilli will work.

Mix all the ingredients together and let it marinade for around 30 minutes or until the translucent fish has turned white. When you’ve eaten the fish, don’t discard the juice. This is wonderful mopped up with boiled then skinned cold sweet potatoes, as eaten in Peru.

Scandinavian Gravad Lax Recipe

250g caster sugar

200g rock salt

2 tbsp crushed white pepper

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp crushed juniper berries

2 x approximately 400g of the centre portion of a salmon, preferably of the same thickness

A decent glug of Aquavit

Large bunch of dill, fronds chopped finely

Mix together the sugar, salt, pepper, lemon zest and juniper berries.

To prevent overflow of the curing liquid into your fridge, use a non reactive baking tray with a lip (that also fits in your fridge).

Spread 1/4 of the sugar/salt mixture on the tray. Place one piece of the salmon, skin side down, on the tray and spread half of the mixture on top along with the dill. Then place the other salmon piece, skin side upwards, on top. Spread the rest of the sugar/salt mixture over the skin.

Pour on the Aquavit (or vodka or gin).

Weigh down the salmon with a chopping board or plate plus something heavy on top. Leave the salmon at room temperature until the salt and sugar dissolve then place it in the fridge. After 24 hours, remove the weights and flip over the salmon ‘sandwich’. Replace the weights and leave in the fridge for another 24 hours.

Remove from the fridge and cut a little slice from the centre of the salmon. Does it taste cured and not raw? Then it is ready. (If it is too salty, you can rinse the salmon.)

Cut D shape slices and serve with crisp bread and pickled cucumbers.

Hawaiian Tuna Poke Recipe

1 tbsp black sesame seeds

1 tbsp white sesame seeds

2 tbsp (or 2 sheets) nori seaweed, toasted, crumbled

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 tbsp soy sauce

Juice of 1/2 lime

350g tuna, skinned, cut into 1.5cm cubes

2 spring onions, sliced thinly

1 ripe avocado, diced

3 tbsp candlenuts, lightly roasted then crushed

You can buy candlenuts from souschef.co.uk, but macadamias are a good substitute. Both nuts are buttery, oil rich and dense, to the point that the former can be burnt like candles (hence the name). Good tuna should be red, not brown.

Mix the marinade ingredients together, sesame seeds, nori, oil, soy and lime.

Then add the tuna, spring onions, avocado and candlenuts to the marinade. Toss and chill for half an hour. Eat with steamed sushi rice.