Mr Morales is the founder of the Ceviche Peruvian Kitchen and Pisco Bar in Soho. Since opening in February last year, the place has been critically acclaimed and two more sites are said to be in the pipeline.
Ceviche Peruvian Kitchen has kickstarted a boom of interest in Peruvian food; a cuisine which, for most of us, was probably either a complete unknown or a collection of cliches and half truths about guinea pigs and Paddington Bear.
As Mr Morales explained yesterday, ‘When I was floating the idea of opening a Peruvian restaurant, there were plenty of people who couldn’t point to the country on a map.’
They can now and ceviche, the Peruvian national dish of fish ‘cooked’ in citrus juices, is fast becoming rather fashionable.
I had always thought that ceviche had developed from sushi after Japanese people started emigrating to Peru at the end of the 19th century.
I was wrong. According to Mr Morales, the ceviche technique of cooking fish is one which the indigenous people of Peru and the Polynesian islands have been practising for over 2000 years. The Japanese influenced some forms of ceviche but the Peruvians had been making the dish long before the Japanese landed.
Under the watchful eye of Mr Morales, we assembled a dish of Don Ceviche, the signature seabass ceviche dish of the Soho restaurant. I had assumed that ceviche would be a little like sushi in that its visual simplicity and stripped down list of ingredients would hide complicated techniques and surgical knife skills.
In fact, it was very straightforward to put together and needs surprisingly few ingredients. If you click through here, Bite magazine has posted the full recipe.
While it is simple to make, Don Ceviche tastes divine. The chilli, salt and lime juice all balance out but it makes for a punchy combination of hot, sour and salty while the crispness of the red onion acts as a foil to the wonderful softness of the seabass.
If you would like to learn a little more about Peruvian food then point your mouse towards Ceviche Peruvian Kitchen. It’s a colourful cookbook from Martin Morales which has just been published by W&N/Orion.