I still have to find the best way of organising a meal. I thought that planning out the menu beforehand and write down the ingredients so that I would simply need to pop in the supermarket and buy all the necessary stuff would be efficient.
But then I get there and either (a) half of the ingredients have been ravaged and only the price tag on the shelf has been spared or (b) one of the key ingredients turns out to be a lot more expensive than I was expecting and, stingy as I am, I chicken out and linger with panic in front of the staring duck breast (this seems to have been the infamous ingredient during the last occasions).
So perhaps what I should do is just to casually wonder around the isles and pick something I fancy or is *discounted* (probably the most important factor) and then come back home and flick through any of the recipe books we have and make up a dish - the likelihood of having all the ingredients mentioned in the recipe though is very slim. So imagination must prevail.
Last night the idea was to have Peruvian dinner. Creamy quinoa with venison (the closest to alpaca I thought) was on the menu. But, to my disappointment, there was no quinoa, at least which was not already pre-cooked. After probably 25 minutes I managed to leave triumphantly with oysters (reduced to half price of course). And scallops.
Those who are squeamish about semi-raw fish or seafood won't even look at the recipe. However, this is one of the nicest ways of making scallops. A reader friend will probably be overjoyed even at the thought of ceviche.
Ceviche is THE speciality of Peru. For some time it was called the new Sushi. Everyone in South America will claim to have it too - don't let yourself be fooled. Peruvians are the best at making it. Of course the starting material must be fresh. You can use practically any type of fish or seafood; prawns, squids, sea brim, red snapper, salmon fillet...as long as the flesh is firm enough.
For 4 people
12 scallops or 250g fish
2 limes (juice)
1 lemon (juice)
1/2 red onion
1 or 2 chillies
2-3 handfuls of fresh coriander
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1. Cut the scallops or fish in fine slices. Arrange them on a plate.
2. Mix the juices together with the chopped onion and finely chopped chillies. Soak the fish in this marinate for at least 2 hours.
3. Remove the scallops or fish from the marinate and transfer it to an other plate. Pour some of the liquid, season and scatter the coriander and serve almost immediately afterwards.
You can serve it with slices of fresh avocado, or palta as it is called in Peru, and crunchy tortillas.
I think the best place to have ceviche in Lima is at El Senor Limon which is in San Isidro, one of the posh areas of the city. Many people skip Lima and head directly south to Machu Pichu. I wouldn't necessarily advise to linger there for many days but I must recognise that there are some charming corners. Miradores for example is a lovely neighbourhood and if you like antiques that is the place for you.
For some reasons, there is always a heavy layer of clouds above Lima and the humidity is phenomenal - I know, I am not selling it well now...but if you go in March you will manage to see blue sky and have the perfect temperature. So do try and don't miss ceviche!