A few years ago when writing my book Jamie's America, I spent a short while in New York. It was incredible. I got to visit all sorts of wonderful and fascinating places, and on one occasion I was lucky enough to be taken to a pop-up Peruvian restaurant. What sticks in my mind from that evening was the ceviche – it was an absolute dream. Ceviche is essentially a South American way of semi-cooking fish or meat by using acid from citrus fruit. Fresh, light and zinging with flavour, it's an incredible little appetizer.
One thing to remember is good fresh fish is essential to this dish, and something you absolutely cannot compromise on. When you get to your fishmongers or the fish counter of your supermarket, take a look at what's on offer. For super fresh fish, make sure the eyes are clear, bright and shiny, not cloudy or glazed over. Fish should look shiny, as though it's just come from the sea – no film or slime, or dry, hard skin – and it absolutely should not smell fishy. When fish is really fresh, all you can smell is the sea. Don't be afraid to ask questions: If you know what to look out for and have a little bit of confidence, you'll end up buying freshly caught fish, not stuff that's been hanging around for a couple of days. When you've chosen your fish, ask your fishmonger to fillet and pin-bone it for you.
Ceviche is a good recipe to make as a canapé or pre-starter – you can whack some in the middle of the table and everyone can help themselves. With the rhubarb here to add lovely depth of flavour, it will really get the taste buds going for dinner.
1 clove of garlic
2 inch piece of ginger
3½ ounces (100 grams) rhubarb
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons liquid honey
1 lemon, juiced
8 herring fillets, skin-off, pin-boned, from sustainable sources
2 fresh jalapeño chilies
A few radishes (mixed colours if possible)
Extra virgin olive oil
2 containers of cress or micro herbs
Start by making the curing liquor for the herring. Peel the garlic and ginger, then place in a blender with rhubarb, soy sauce, honey and lemon juice. Blitz until smooth and pour into a bowl.
Slice the fish into ½ to ¾-inch pieces and toss in the curing liquor, then leave to sit for 20 minutes.
Very finely slice the chilies into rounds and place to one side, then very finely slice the radishes (keep the leaves on if you’re fancy). Using a speed-peeler, peel the carrot, then continue
to shave into long ribbons. Repeat with the cucumber.
Drain any excess liquid from the fish into another bowl. Add the radishes, carrot and cucumber with a little oil, then toss to coat.
Arrange the fish around the outside of a platter, and place a little slice of chili on top of each piece. Place the salad in the centre of the platter, snip and scatter with little clumps of cress or micro herbs, then serve.