Before I tried it, ceviche had always been one of those dishes that sort of weirded me out even though I liked the name ;). Im not a huge fan of raw fish and Im only starting to give sushi a try, even, with somewhat good results. I guess I didnt really believe that lime juice could “cook” fish.
It doesnt really. I researched it a little, cuz Im like that. I found out that the lime juice just denatures the proteins and changes it from its raw state. Its not cooked. However, the acidity of the lime juice is strong enough to prevent the growth of bacteria, in case you were worried about that. But you still have to make sure to get good quality seafood and be careful about handling it. Keep it refrigerated and remember, if it smells fishy, its not good.
Neither Debbie or I had ever had salmon ceviche before this summer. Or prawn ceviche for that matter. We had only ever had it with tuna and I loved it after I got over the whole raw fish thing. Salmon was Debbies idea. She had it at Cactus Club and really liked it. Turns out I do too. 🙂
Ceviche of any kind is a latin dish traditionally. We made it the usual way with only lime juice the first time. It was very good, but the lime was a little overpowering. We saw on the Cactus Club menu that they added a Vietnamese sauce to their ceviche called nuac cham. We found a recipe online so the second time we made this dish we gave the Vietnamese twist a try. Its the winner!
There are only two kinds of people in this world. People who love cilantro, and people who hate it. We used chopped cilantro in our ceviche but, if you are a hater, you could use chopped basil instead. We add basil to this dish in the form of a basil oil that we think is a must even though it takes a bit of time. You dont have to add this, but it just takes the freshness and flavor over the edge!
You could use the basil oil for a number of other dishes. Pasta, salads, especially caprese salad… Yum!
- FOR THE BASIL OIL(makes ¾ cup)
- 1-1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
- ¾ cup olive oil
FOR THE NUAC CHAM SAUCE (makes ¾ cup)
- 3 tablespoons lime juice (1 fat, thin skin lime)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ cup water
- 2½ tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 thai chili sliced or a few hot chili flakes
FOR THE CEVICHE
- 2 or 3 limes juiced
- 1 filet of fresh salmon, diced into bite sized peices
- 2 cups of prawns, peeled, deveined, and chopped
- ½ red onion, chopped
- ½ cucumber, seeded and diced
- ½ bunch of chopped cilantro
- FOR THE BASIL OIL
- Blanch basil in medium saucepan of boiling water for 10 seconds. Drain. Rinse under cold water. Pat basil dry with paper towels.
- Transfer the basil to a blender. Add the oil and puree until smooth.
- Strain the oil if you want a refined look, but you can leave it as if you like.
- (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.)
FOR THE NUAC CHAM SAUCE
- Combine the lime juice, sugar and water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Taste and adjust the flavors to balance out the sweet and sour.
- Add the fish sauce and chili's. Taste again and adjust the flavors to your liking, balancing out the sour, sweet, salty and spicy.
- Set aside.
FOR THE CEVICHE
- Squeeze the limes into a bowl. Add the salmon and prawns. Stir and set aside.
- Once the fish goes a little opaque in color a bit, drain the fish.
- Add the onion and cilantro and stir.
- Add a bit of the nuac cham sauce and stir. Add more to taste.
- Plate the ceviche and then drizzle with the basil oil.
- Serve with tortilla chips.