Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.
This is something I would never have thought of eating let alone trying to make. I have seen ceviche before was worried about the whole idea of cooking in acidic liquid, but actually this turned out really tasty and flavourful. The papas rellenas, I had never heard of before but they were really interesting to make and I had to semi deep fry again, hurrah! I did it and again it was not as scary as I thought! I made the vegetarian version as I don't like mince and used black beans and bulgar instead of tempeh and quinoa, mostly because I already had the first two in the house. These were really tasty as well and I ended up making three of them with lots of filling left over, so I've frozen them for another day.
Cheviche de Pescado (Fish Ceviche):
2 lbs. (about 1 kg) firm white fish (scallops or other seafood may be substituted)*
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1 chili pepper, minced (I recommend Aji if you can find it, but Jalapeno or other peppers can sub)
1 cup (240 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice (between 8-12 limes)
Fresh juice only, no bottled. Can use lemons in lieu of limes.
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (4 grams) (1/8 oz) fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1 large sweet potato
1 large ear of corn
Boil sweet potato and corn (separately) if using for garnish. Allow to cool. (Can be done hours or even a day in advance)
Wash and trim your fish. Slice into pieces between ½ inch (15 mm) cubes to 2 inch (50mm) pieces, depending on taste.**
Place fish in a non-reactive, shallow pan in a thin layer. Season with salt and pepper.
Combine lime juice, chili pepper, coriander and garlic. Pour mixture over fish. Stir lightly to expose all the fish to some of the lime juice mixture.
Put sliced onion on top of fish as it “cooks”
Let fish stand for 10 minutes.*** Lift fish out of the lime juice and plate individual portions ,**** garnishing with lettuce, slices of sweet potato and slices or kernels of corn if using.
* It is important to use high quality, really fresh fish. You can use previously frozen (I’ve been using it because I am too cheap to buy this much sashimi grade fish), but it’s not as good. The better your fish, the better your ceviche.
** The fish is going to “cook” in the lime juice – how thick you make the pieces will determine how much the fish cooks, so keep your own preference in mind when you are cutting the fish up.
*** I have looked at recipes all over the interwebs for ceviche, and they all have different “cooking” times – I am going with 10 minutes because that’s what my Peruvian cookbook says. While I was in Lima, all the ceviche I ate was just barely white, and basically raw. I may cause a raging debate about ceviche by saying this, but I think that is most traditional. However, you can thoroughly cook the fish by letting it sit much longer – a few hours or even overnight. When I did this, it made the fish taste of nothing but lime and it was a bit rubbery, so it’s not what I would recommend.
**** The portions can vary; personally I prefer to have ceviche as I mostly ate it in Lima – as a starter, in a fairly small portion. It’s very light and a lovely way to start off before eating something else. You can also eat a full meal portion of it if you want – I think that’s too much, but if you love it, don’t let my taste stop you!
Papas Rellenas (vegetarian/vegan):
For the dough:
5 pounds (2¼ kg) (3 large – 4 medium) russet potatoes
½ cup (120 ml) (75 gm) (2 ⅔ oz) cornstarch (called corn flour in some countries)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) (1/5 oz) salt, or to taste
Lots of pepper
For the filling:
1 cup (240 ml) (150 gm) (5⅓ oz) diced onion (any color)
4 cloves garlic
½ chili pepper (Aji recommended)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) (1/8 oz) ground cumin
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) (2 gm) (1/16 oz) sweet paprika
1 cup (240 ml) (115 gm) (4 oz) cremini mushrooms, small dice
½ package tempeh, thin cut and quasi crumbled (Or you can use cooked black beans)
½ cup (120 ml) (90 gm) (3 oz) raisins, soaked in 1 cup (240 ml) boiling water for 10 minutes, then minced
1 handful spinach
1 cup (240 ml) (185 gm) (6½ oz) quinoa (Or you can use another cooked grain, like buckwheat)
¼ c. white wine, water or beef stock for deglazing
Salt and pepper to taste
For the final preparation:
1 large egg, beaten (for vegetarian version) OR egg replacer equivalent to one large egg (for vegan version)
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour
Dash cayenne pepper
1 cup dry (240 ml) (110 gm) (4 oz) or fresh (240 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) bread crumbs (you can use regular, panko, make your own or use store-bought)
Oil for frying (enough for 2” (50 mm) in a heavy pan like a medium sized dutch oven)
For the dough:
Boil unpeeled potatoes whole until tender when stuck with a fork. Let potatoes cool.
When potatoes are cooled, peel them and either mash them with a potato masher or force them through a potato ricer (preferred).
Add cornstarch, salt and pepper and knead “dough” thoroughly to ensure that ingredients are well combined and uniformly distributed.
While potatoes are cooling, make filling:
Caramelize onions in olive oil for about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and chili pepper and cook.
Add the cumin and paprika and cook briefly (a few seconds).
Add the mushrooms and cook until soft.
Add tempeh and raisins.
Deglaze the pan with white wine. Add spinach and wilt.
Add the quinoa and season with salt and pepper.
Allow filling to cool before forming “papas.”
Finishing the dough and forming the papas:
Use three small bowls (or other shallow containers) to prepare the papas. In one, combine flour, cayenne and salt. In the second, combine the egg replacer and water. Put bread crumbs in the third.
Flour your hands and scoop up 1/6 of the total dough to make a round pancake with your hands. Make a slight indentation in the middle for the filling.
Spoon a generous amount of filling into the center and then roll the potato closed, forming a smooth, potato-shaped casing around the filling. Repeat will all dough (you should have 6 papas)
Heat 1 ½ - 2 inches (4 – 5 cm) of oil in a pan to about 350 – 375° F (175 - 190°C).
Dip each papa in the three bowls to coat: first roll in flour, then dip in egg replacer, then roll in bread crumbs.
Fry the papas (in batches if necessary) about 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Flip once in the middle of frying to get both sides.
Drain on paper towel and store in a cool oven 200°F (95°C) (gas mark ¼) if frying in batches.
Serve with salsa criolla (or other sauce of preference) immediately