Updated: Oct 30, 2021
Sea bass seems to be commonly selected as the fish of choice for a ceviche-style recipe, but there are cookery writers out there advocating that bream is equally good. When you have a source of extremely fresh fish, a recipe like this is definitely worth considering. Originally devised by Gill Meller, it’s a take on a sea bass ceviche, with bream suggested as the alternative. His twist is that the key flavours are those that would be found in a Mojito.
This is an adaptation of a recipe from Fearnley-Whittingstall’s “Hugh’s Three Good Things … on a Plate”. The only tricky part to it is totally pin-boning the fish. This is important otherwise slicing the fillet will be difficult. Otherwise this dish is very easy to prepare.
Ingredients (serves 1-2)
Juice of 2 limes
½ tsp caster sugar (or more, to taste)
1 mild red or green chilli (optional, or to taste)
Sea salt and ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Fillet, skin and pin-bone the bream, then slice the fillets into bite-size pieces against the grain of the flesh.
Place the fish in a bowl and pour around two-thirds to three-quarters of the lime juice over it so that it is covered. Add the sugar and season well with salt and pepper. Stir the marinade then taste for the balance of flavours, adjusting as necessary with the lime, sugar and seasoning. For an extra kick of mint, bash a sprig and add to the marinade.
Cover and place in the fridge for no less than 1 hour and no more than 2 hours. Give it a stir after 1 hour to turn the fish pieces and check the texture to know how much longer it will need.
Just before serving, deseed and very thinly slice the chilli if using and finely shred the mint. Mix in with the fish and the marinade, and make final adjustments to the balance of flavours according to taste.
Peel and finely slice the cucumber on a diagonal and place in the bottom of a wide soup bowl or deep plate.
Layer the fish on top and drizzle over the marinade, the chilli and the mint. Garnish with extra mint and/or chilli as desired, plus a little olive oil.
12 March 2020: I made this dish with brill and it came out beautifully, though I question whether the flavourings are a little assertive for a delicately-flavoured and expensive fish. The marination time required is more than for bream or bass. At the same time I happened to have some "limequats", limier versions of kumquats, but milder and sweeter than limes. The juice made an admirable alternative to the lime juice in this recipe and a little grated zest finished things off superbly.
"Hugh's Three Good Things", Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (2012), pp. 74: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hughs-Three-Good-Things-Fearnley-Whittingstall/dp/1408828588