Before we arrived in Mexico I never imagined I would be eating Ceviche seafood! Ceviche is not a dish I had previously associated with Mexican food. It seems I was deliciously mistaken.
We are visiting the Yucatan region of Mexico. The map above is terribly unclear but Yucatan Peninsula is surrounded by water. Yucatan is the raised “nob” above the green Guatemala. The Gulf of Mexico is on one side of the Yucatan peninsula and the gorgeous Caribbean Sea is on the other.
Now that you can picture where we are in Mexico, the map above shows the Yucatan Peninsula. We are visiting Playa del Carmen which is on the upper right side of the map, where the Caribbean Sea meets the coast. The pyramid symbols shown are the ancient Mayan ruins. We visited the Tulum ruins a few days ago and were in awe. Chichen Itza is the largest of the ancient civilisations in this region.
Whenever we visit a country I like to take some local cooking classes. It’s a great way to get a real taste for the country. This is how I discovered that not all Mexican cuisine is tacos and burritos. Each different Mexican region has foods and cooking styles specific to that area.
In the Yucatan Region, the food is influenced by Mayan style cuisine and use foods which have been abundant in the area, seafood is commonly eaten with a paste or marinade made from the annatto seed which is one of the main spices in the region. A popular cooking style is Pibil, which is from the Mayan word p’ib, meaning “buried”. In this method food is wrapped in banana leaves, and cooked in a pit oven. Although, more commonly in modern day it is placed in a conventional oven.
To learn more about Yucatan cooking my good friend Danah, little Anais and myself have booked into Co Cos Culinary School at Playa del Carmen. It was a great surprise to find we would be making a Ceviche recipe today. The dish was a little more special than a regular ceviche recipe, we were making a layered Ceviche Timbal which would include some other delicious Mexican flavours.
We were firstly introduced to some of the Mexican ingredients that would be included in our dish. The ingredients had been sliced for us which made the cooking process very simple.
Ceviche is the method of immersing a raw protein in citrus juice to produce a cured “cooked” end product. It is a popular method of cooking in coastal regions. Previously I have included a recipe for traditional Fijian Kokoda which is similar to the Yucatan Ceviche.
The main difference between Fijian Kokoda and the Yucatan version is the accompanying flavours. This dish is served with a Chipotle Alino and the very abundant mango and avocado which are seen everywhere in Mexico.
- 80 gm fresh white fish diced 1cm
- 1 Tbs fresh coriander chopped cilantro
- 1 Tbs red onion finely diced
- 100 ml lime juice
- 15 gm olive oil
- 1 tsp serrano chili finely chopped
- pepper to taste
- 1-2 chipotle peppers boiled for 15 mins
- 75 ml vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp mustard
- 1 Tbs white vinegar
- 1 Tbs onion chopped
- 1/4 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- 1 small sweet potato
- 1/2 avocado finely diced
- 1 mango finely diced
In a mixing bowl place all the ceviche ingredients.
Place the bowl in the fridge for between 1/2 hour and 2 hours maximum.
Place all the ingredients into a jug and use a stick blender to puree into a sauce.
Refrigerate until needed.
Boil the sweet potato until soft.
Make the potato and drain in muslin to remove all excess liquid. Refrigerate.
Cut the mango into 1 cm cubes.
Cut the avocado into 1 cm cubes.
Once the ingredients have been prepared assemble the Timbal as follows:
Place a food stacker on the serving plate.
Press a 1 cm layer of sweet potato into the base of the food stacker.
Layer the avocado and then the mango into the food server.
Press the layers slightly so the food is a little compressed.
Finish with a layer of the ceviche.
Add a decorative swish of the chipotle sauce to the plate and a few more drops to the top of the Timbal.
I hope you have enjoyed experiencing a little bit of the Yucatan Peninsula. This is a delicious fresh flavour that would work well in summer. I would be very tempted to try this Ceviche served in lettuces leaves with a little mango.