Since spring started in the Netherlands I've been spending much less time cooking. The past few weeks we've been eating a lot of fresh and easy to prepare meals. One of our favourite combinations that's been on repeat for weeks are Mediterranean rice bowls: a base of basmati rice with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, olives, usually feta, and a protein like hummus, falafel or grilled meat. I usually jazz things up with some nice olive oil, a sprinkle of feta, or even toasted pita for a riff on fattoush.
Well last week I got bored of the usual and wanted to make something exciting and seasonally appropriate but still easy to put together. I saw tuna steaks at the supermarket and thought they'd be perfect in a fresh ceviche. Crunchy toasted plantains add texture and a nice salty sweet counterpoint to the fresh acidity and spice of ceviche.
To make the toasted plantains
After peeling and slicing into 1.5cm thick pieces I fried the plantains in batches in vegetable oil. I then used a large mortar and pestle to press them onto the inside of ceramic ramekins.
Plantains are used extensively in many Latin American and Caribbean cuisines. Fried plantains flattened into discs are called tostones or patacones and are really good vehicles for homemade salsas, ceviche, beans or meat.
I took the concept a step further and made the fried plantains into little bowls, and then roasted them a second time to get them crispier.
Baking vs frying
I chose to fry method because I wanted to make sure the plantains came out crispy. I wasn't sure the oven would do that without drying them out or making them hard so I opted to fry. I've since found this method for perfect baked plantains and think I'll try it next time.
Whatever method you choose, the basic idea is what you want to get the plantains crispy and then smash them down into a flat shape or a bowl. I used a heavy duty mortar and pestle but it was just as effective to press the plantain directly into the bowl with the pestle.
If you don't have a mortar and pestle or just a pestle you could even use a sturdy wooden spoon or other heavy duty implement.
Don't forget the salt
If you do fry them, make sure you liberally salt the plantains on all sides before and immediately after frying to help the salt stick - otherwise it just bounces off.
To make ceviche
I had a bit of leftover ceviche when a friend happened to stop by. She mentioned eating (and loving) ceviche in Peru and Colombia, and showed me some pictures of the dishes she ate. I was really surprised to see how varied the preparations were.
As so often happens with food, the conclusion I drew is that there is no 'right way' to make ceviche. There are different ways to prepare depending on the household and also in home kitchens versus restaurants.
The basic premise is that the raw fish needs to be cured in an acid, usually citrus. Onion is often present but beyond that it can get pretty wild. The ceviche I made here is a pretty standard combination of tuna, lime juice, red onion, garlic, chillies, red pepper, corn and cilantro.
My friend happened to also mention an amazing ceviche she ate in Peru that had a yellow curry sauce. The contrast of fresh lime juice, fish, and warm spice of curry sounded like an amazing combination to me - in fact it inspired me to make sweet and spicy curry sauce over seared tuna steaks with coconut lime rice.
Equipment & Cooking
I used a cast iron skillet to fry the plantains and then pounded them in a mortar and pestle.
For baking the toasted plantains, I used 7cm oven-safe ceramic ramekins and then served directly in the ramenkins. If you want to save time you can also simply flatten them and serve them as tostones with ceviche on top.
Making ahead/ serving next day
While the ceviche was perfectly fine hanging out in the fridge for a day, I can't say the same about the few leftover fried plantains I stored. By next day they had dried out and crumbled when I tried to pound them into bowls.
Tuna Ceviche in Toasted Plantain Bowls
- 5 large green plantains
- 3 tuna steaks about 450 grams/16 oz fresh sushi grade, cut into 1cm cubes
- About ½ cup of fresh lime juice 3-4 fresh squeezed limes
- 1 small red onion finely sliced into ribbons
- 1 small clove garlic mashed
- ½ red pepper finely diced
- ½ cup of corn
- 2 small red chillies finely diced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- Vegetable oil for frying or roasting
- Preheat oven to 200 C / 400 F.
- Cut the tuna steaks into 1cm pieces and put them in a bowl with the lime juice, onion, garlic, corn, red and chilli pepper, and cilantro. Sprinkle with salt - I added about ¼ of a teaspoon. Mix well and set aside to cure for at least 5-10 minutes.
- Peel the plantains and cut them into 1 - 1.5 cm thick slices. Fry them in oil until golden brown or alternatively you can bake them until crispy.
- Once the plantains are fried, use a pestle or other heavy kitchen implement to press them down into discs or to line small ramekins. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-156 minutes until the edges are golden all around.
- Spoon the ceviche into the plantain lined bowls and serve immediately. If you are making discs instead them serve the discs alongside the ceviche or topped with it.
Leave a Reply