Feb. 23, 2012
By Kim Dannies
Flaming salt-crusted chicken, waffle cones filled with foie gras mousse, triple-dipped salted caramels, pan de bono, Latino BBQ ribs… my jeans are tighter, but man, is my belly happy!
I’ve been very lucky to sample some extraordinary food lately. My most memorable meal was Nuevo Latino, specifically the spicy, tangy food of Peru. Peruvian cuisine is a hot topic right now and it’s no surprise, almost nothing in the larder is off limits. Six centuries of melding African, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese cultures has yielded a cross-pollination of recipes that are ingredient-rich and infinitely creative.
Key dishes like pepper purees, quinoa salads and cebiche (ceviche), the citrus cured seafood dish, are drop-dead gorgeous and virtuous eating to boot. The magical way Peruvian chefs play with spice and acid is particularly inspired. They’ll top fresh greens with hearts of palm, Cotija cheese, asparagus, and drizzle it all with a passion fruit vinaigrette that simply sparkles. A wonderful book that captures the beauty and ease of this cooking is “The Food & Cooking of Peru” by Fior Arcaya de Deloit. Recently, I whipped up a Peruvian feast and must say that it was a visual and gustatory knockout that wasn’t that difficult to do.
Choose 1-2 pounds of firm white fish like cod, halibut, scallops or shrimp. Cut into generous bite-sized pieces and place in a glass prep bowl. Thinly slice half of a medium-sized red onion, one small chili and two sticks of celery. Add to the fish. Juice 8 limes to yield 10 tablespoons of juice and gently toss over the mixture. Season with salt and pepper, then let it set for 20 minutes.
Re-toss the mixture; allow it to set in the fridge for 20 minutes more. The fish is ready when it is opaque (depending on which fish you choose, you’ll want to experiment with the marinating time). Line a platter with lettuce leaves, spoon out the seafood and top with finely minced parsley. Steamed potatoes or quinoa are nice side dishes. Serves 4-8.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three 20-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.