As someone who loves ceviches and tiraditos in all their forms, I’ve wanted to post a raw fish recipe for awhile but have held back. I understand that sushi-grade fish is safe to eat but there’s something unnerving about preparing it yourself. I leave it to others to not cook it correctly for me and certainly didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone else how to go about it. When Gastón Acurio’s Peru: The Cookbook came out, there were no excuses. Beautifully put together and encyclopedic, Peru is more self-contained than I’d expected but it’s surprising how personal each entry feels. I decided on the tiradito nikkei – partly because of its attainable ingredient list and partly because it calls for completely fish that’s completely raw – no searing, no marinating. Finding the freshest possible fish was key so I went to my favorite fish store in the neighborhood and asked my friend Alex to show me how to get even slices. After cutting off a corner, he gave it for me to sample. Taken aback, I couldn’t say no. I bought a pound and brought it home and from there it couldn’t have been simpler. By the time you’ve prepped the ingredients, it’s pretty much just a quick assemblyand you’re done. As I paused to take a few pictures, I could see the citrus based sauce was cooking the edges of the fish and hurried up. I didn’t want it to interfere with the fish’s texture that – even on its own – was all ocean.
Tiradito Nikkei/Japanese-Inspired Tiradito
1 14 ounce (400 g) tuna fillet
Juice of 12 small lemons
½ tablespoon panca chili paste (see below)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar-free tamarind juice concentrate
2 teaspoons pickled sushi ginger
2 scallions (spring onions), green part only, chopped
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 2¼ ounces (65 g) small turnip, thinly sliced
1 nori seaweed sheet, thinly sliced to garnish
Salt and white pepper
Cut the tuna into thin slices of around 1¼ x ¾ x 1½ inches/3 x 2 x 4 cm and fan them out on a plate or platter. Season with salt and white pepper.
Mix together the lemon juice, panca chili paste, honey, soy sauce, and tamarind juice in a bowl. Pour the mixture over the tuna.
Scatter the pickled sushi ginger and scallion (spring onions) over the tuna slices in the center of the plate. Garnish with nori seaweed sheet slices.
Ají Panca Licuado/Panca Chili Paste
1 pound 2 ounces (500 g) dried panca chiles
Thoroughly wash the panca chiles to remove any dust or dirt. Cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and veins.
Put the chiles in a bowl, cover with water, and let soak for 12 hours or overnight, changing the water 3 or 4 times during the soaking.
Once soaked, drain the chiles and put in a blender with ½ cup (4 fluid ounces/120 ml) boiling water. Blend together thoroughly for about 5 minutes, then strain the mixture. Transfer to a suitable container and keep refrigerated until needed.
Excerpted with permission from Peru: The Cookbook © Gastón Acurio, reproduced courtesy of Phaidon