I am so glad that I grew up in a large family- life never had a dull moment, was always full of surprises, and everyone always brought something unique to the table. I actually have 6 sisters…yes, there are 7 girls in our family and no boys…except for my lone father who was absolutely a saint! Each of us girls posses certain talents – quilting, scrap booking, sewing, ceramics, mentoring, patience, and sports. My passion? Cooking! Growing up, I just loved to be in the kitchen with my grandma, learning the art of blending flavors and then feeling the pride as others enjoyed my ‘masterpiece’. Everybody knows that when I’m in the kitchen, I’m happy!
I love that I get to share my favorite recipe’s with you all on this blog, but with so many to choose from I didn’t know where to begin. I started to pour through my box of favorites, and then the answer fell in my lap… I hope you enjoy this quick bio about my brother in law, Juan, along with the recipe that I was so inspired to make.
Juan, the baby of the family, has 3 older brothers and 2 older sisters. Juan’s father was an honored pilot in the Peruvian Airforce, and just months after his retirement he perrished in a plane crash in the Peruvian mountains. Juan was just a child at the time of his father’s death, but his family was close-knit, and his older brothers helped him grow into a fine young man. Ever since he could remember, Juan hoped to become an American citizen. He migrated to America with an older brother and sister, and passionately jumped through all of the formal hoops to become an American citizen. He worked in an institution, scrubbing toilet’s to put himself through college … and today he has a masters degree. He wanted to uphold the rights of our country, so Juan joined the Army Reserves and has fought for our country for nearly 20 years. We are all so very proud of him! At times, he seems to appreciate the rights and freedoms of our country more than many Americans who were born in this country. During this time he met and fell in love with my sister Jewel. My sister and Juan were married and have been so now for over 20 years and I am happy to say have 4 beautiful children…
Over the years, Juan and I have had some deep conversations about life, the differences between American and Peruvian culture and of course, cooking. I told him about a 95 year old man that would come into my work establishment every Tuesday, just to bring me his very own ‘Cuban Ceviche’ which was awesome. Juan argued that civeche originated in Peru and that there was no ceviche like Peruvian Ceviche… so, of course, I had to try Juan’s recipe. Okay, not his recipe – his mom did ALL of the cooking in their house!
Oh My Gosh was he ever right …this was the best ceviche recipe I had ever made or tasted! It has a ‘not-so-secret’ secret spice called Aji (I pronounced it AGEE, but it is actually pronounced AHEE) and it is unbelievably delicious! I found this online at http://www.yanuk.com . When cooking the corn, a few seeds of anise are added…like I said, oh my gosh, what a flavor! The sweet potatoes and corn are cooked ahead of time and refrigerated and all eaten alongside the civeche. What a flavor-fusion explosion!!!! If you like ceviche, you are going to love this one!!!
JUAN’S PERUVIAN CEVICHE / Marinated Fish
2 1/4 lbs filet of sole or any fresh, white, tender fish
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
Juice of 8 to 10 freshly squeezed key limes (key limes make this dish sweeter)
5 finely chopped aji limo / Chili ( I use the Aji chili paste, it is easiest!)
Salt & Pepper
1½ tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 to 5 cloves crushed garlic
3 leaves of lettuce
3 yellow sweet potatoes
8 1-inch slices of maize corn
1 ají limo / Chili cut in thin slices for decoration
Boil sliced corn with a few anise seeds. Boil sweet potatoes, peel and cut into slices 1 inch (2 cm) thick. Wash fish with water and salt. Cut in squares 1/2 inch thick. Slice onion thinly; add salt. Cut aji limo in halves, seeded and deveined. Place fish on serving dish and season with crushed garlic and salt. Add finely chopped aji limo, key lime juice, pepper and chopped cilantro. Let set for 10 minutes (taste juice to check hotness). Place onions over fish. Decorate the platter with the refrigerated slices of corn, aji limo, sweet potato and leaves of lettuce. This makes 8 servings.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I do! And, please be sure to send us your favorite recipes along with your stories behind them!
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