Wednesday, October 03, 2012


Yellow Tail, a fine Civiche Fish thats not endangered.                                             Mans

Roundabout the mid nineties a bunch of climbing mates from South Africa and I spent a few months running around like ‘crazy men’ in the mountains of Peru. Luckily we all survived. After our Andes’ adventures I went surfing on the Pacific coast and this is when I tried civeche for the first time, (not to mention another Peruvian delicacy, but that’s a whole other storey and not for everybody).  Very soon civeche was my stock surfing lunch, perfect before an afternoon session. It’s summery, light and very moreish.
Adam and I in Peru during 'The Japanese Revolution'.  Adam
These adventures took place at about the time when ‘The Japanese Revolution’ of cell phones and sushi, was just starting to infiltrate into our western society. Very few middle class South Africans had cell phones, and they also weren’t all that keen on chomping raw fish.
Not long after my South American adventures, I returned to Cape Town, and I prepared my first civeche dish for my cellphone-less, and less trendy friends. This is one of those ‘crazy men’, my friend Adam’s account of ‘that infamous ceviche occasion.’

Ceviche with Charlo 1997
“Ja, he said leaning back in his chair (sounding like Oom Schalk Lourens himself), I remember that evening quite well. Of course, you have to understand some of the context for such an evening – it was the nineties and culinary adventure was still new to Cape Town. More importantly Charlo’s friends were just emerging from the penury of misspent youth and none of it had been spent on extravagances like sushi. In short neither his friends nor any of their less adventurous partners had ever contemplated eating fish in any state but cooked. 
So Charlo invited all his friends to his little 2 bed flat and we all stood around with nowhere to sit and there was one hell of a hullabaloo. You see Charlo’s friends are also Charlo’s friends’ friends, if you understand what I mean and we were having a grand old time and you could hardly hear the next man for the noise.
Now we were all here for this thing called Ceviche, but I think none of us knew what this was but Charlo was very excited to share with us this taste of his travels in South America. So at some point almost inaudible from the kitchen he shouted that we must now come to get a bowl and an equally excited jostling queue developed though there wasn’t really space to queue. We each were given a dish with perhaps three to five, in Afrikaans they would say stukke of raw white fish. On closer inspection these resolved themselves into chunks of coarsely hacked hake, drifting rather forlornly in a thin sea of lemon juice. We returned to where we’d been standing and a general air of ‘what do we do now’ settled upon the place. It was like that silence that typically follows the serving of food to a large and hungry crowd. The silence of content ruminants masticating. Only this silence was somehow deeper, more tangible as silence. And I soon realised that it was because there wasn’t the usual percussion of clattering cutlery. It was indeed. Silence. For myself I chased the raw gobs of fish quietly with my finger and wondered where I could put the bowl without being noticed. The silence lasted what can be described as an uncomfortably long time.
At last someone came to our rescue. ‘Mmmm delicious!’ they said in a voice so clear and loud and full of culinary authority that it made you almost want to try to eat the fish yourself. And at that we commenced to laugh and get back to our conversations from before the ceviche was served and we put down our bowls if we could find a space somewhere for them.
Ja, that was a really funny evening now I remember it, especially funny because that voice came from out of the kitchen.”
                                                                                                   Storey by Adam Roff (Shot Man)

Civiche, it's yummy, but not for everybody.                                                                                                    Mans
Wot You Need
- A generous chunk of firm fish, enough for 4-6 people (make sure it’s not endangered)
- 1½ cups of lime or lemon juice or both (limes are traditionally used, but I have a lemon tree, so lemons it is for me)
- A heaped tsp of finely chopped garlic
- A heaped tsp of finely chopped ginger (I use a bit more)
- About a tsp of finely chopped chillies (add less or more depending on their hotness)
- A heaped tsp of sugar
- A liberal glug of water
- A tsp of English mustard or wasabi
- About ½ a red onion, very finely sliced
- A handful of roughly chopped fresh coriander
- A sprinkle of olive oil
- Salt to taste
                                                                                  Wot To Do
'Ja, that one.'                                                              Mans
Into your serving platter, put all your ingredients expect the fish, coriander and red onions. Slice your fish into delicate bite sizes and place in the juice, the fish should be swimming in it, (coz thatz wot a fish likes to do). Now pop the platter in the fridge, so the fish can steep in that yummyness. The longer it steeps for, the more ‘cooked’ it’ll be. I like mine a little raw in the middle, but thatz not for everyone. To add the finishing touches scatter the red onions and coriander over the dish. Finally sprinkle with a little olive oil to create beautiful little golden pearls. Serve chilled with chunks of bread to    mop up the delish juice.

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