In The Galley With Rob Beaumont
As winter takes hold across the UK this is a recipe to get you thinking of warmer climes. We’re using whiting, a very common and underrated fish here in the UK, but you can use any white fish you have available from anywhere on the globe. Whiting is a relative of the cod only smaller, it’s been in abundance in British coastal waters for the last three months and is at it’s best, right now. This year Dad and I have caught a lot of whiting – we’ve had them pan-fried as fillets, oven-roasted on the bone as a whole fish, and everything in between.
By far my favourite way is this ceviche; a cure of spicy lime and onion that lightly cooks the fish without the need for heat. It makes a perfect snack or starter and really shows off the best of this unsung delicacy at a time when most other fish stocks are hunkering down for winter. Earlier in the year (it seems like a lifetime ago, given 2020) my fiance and I toured around Costa Rica, where ceviche is the national dish. We ate it every day at roadside pull-ups or in bars as the sun went down. Costa Rican’s use bass, swordfish and marlin, but any white fish that’s fresh (and I mean a day or two old, at max) works wonders. The key is fresh fish, a sharp knife and a fridge.
- 4 – 6 (2kg) whole good sized whiting, or any other white fish
- 1 red onion, diced as finely as your knife skills will allow, but the finer the better
- 2 red chilies, deseeded and finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, diced the same as the onion
- Juice of 6 limes and the grated peel of 1
- Juice of a small clementine
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- A big bunch of fresh coriander
Take the fillets off the bone, removing any pin bones (although whiting bones are so small they mainly go down unnoticed which saves a little time and fiddling). Remove the skin and dice into 2cm cubes and set aside covered in the fridge.
2. Mix the diced onion, garlic, sugar, salt, lime and clementine juice and zest in a bowl. Give it a taste and make sure you’ve got enough sugar to counteract the acidity of the lime and enough salt to give everything a pungent, strong taste.
3. In a big mixing bowl mix the fish with the marinade, making sure all the flesh is submerged, and cover with cling film. Pop in the fridge for at least 20 minutes but for no more than 2 hours. The acidity of the lime actually cooks the fish – curing it as you would Gravadlax. The raw and opaque flesh ‘cooks’ in the juice, turning white as it goes. Don’t leave it past two hours as the fish starts to disintegrate and the marinade starts to take on a little fizz.
To serve, set a few crackers onto a side plate. Roughly chop the coriander before folding it into the fish marinade. Load a few big spoonfuls onto the plate, heaping it onto the crackers to give each mouthful that lovely mix of soft-flesh and crunchy cracker.
Serve with an ice-cold bottle of Pilsen, in homage to wonderful Costa Rica, or a dry and equally cold white wine, such as a Chablis or Picpoul de Pinet!