When you live in a ceviche culture, what do you do for something new?
Ceviche, raw seafood marinated in lime juice with onions and other vegetables, is the national dish of Peru—and our favorite food.
While the variations in ceviche recipes seem never-ending—there’s a seeming infinite combination of seafood, vegetables and marinade recipes—Peruvian chefs have taken the concept further.
They’ve created tiradito, a dish of raw fish similar to carpaccio, ceviche, crudo and sashimi, but garnished with a piquant or spicy sauce.
It reflects the influence of Japanese immigrants on Peruvian cookery. It also differs from ceviche in the way in which the fish is cut (sashimi-style slices) and in the lack of onions.
The fish can also be lightly seared.
Both are typically served as a first course. Cool and refreshing, they are ideal summer dishes but delicious year-round (not to mention easy to make, healthful and low in calories).
The classic tiradito sauce is made from citrus juice and a zesty paste of aji amarillo, made from the Peruvian yellow chile pepper (Capsicum baccatum) plus seasonings—grated garlic or ginger, salt and pepper.
Of course, chefs can create a myriad of sauces with other ingredients.
Unlike ceviche, the fish isn’t marinated in the sauce; the sauce is used as a dressing—think sashimi with sauce and garnishes. Common garnishes include sweet potato and jumbo white corn kernels, both native to Peru.
The key to both dishes is the freshest fish. Ask your fishmonger what’s best.
In South America, marinated raw fish dishes date to pre-Colombian times, when seafood was “cooked” (acid-cured) with a fruit called tumbo (Passiflora tarminina, a relative of passionfruit).
The Incas cured fish in salt and fermented corn.
In the 16th century, the Spaniards arrived with lemons for the marinade, creating modern ceviche: cubed or sliced, lightly marinated raw fish.
Recently, a variation has morphed into tiradito, cutting the fish sashimi-style and adding a spicy dressing.
Tiradito derives from the Spanish verb tirar, which means to throw—throwing together raw fish with a sauce.
 Tiraditio of mackerel with a sauce of yellow aji chile paste (photo © CucharasBravas).
RECIPE: TIRADITO DE PESCADO (photo #3)
Here’s a tiradito recipe from Peru Delights. Prep time is 20 minutes.
Look for the aji amarillo paste in supermarkets with a large Latin American products section (Goya makes it), at a Latin American grocer, or online.
If you can’t get hold of it, use a mixture of fresh yellow bell peppers and serrano chilies to approximate the hot and fruity flavor of the aji amarillo.
Ingredients For 4 Servings
1. SLICE the fish fillet very thin and divide among four plates. Sprinkle with salt.
2. COMBINE lime juice in a bowl with the aji amarillo paste, diced chile, garlic, ginger, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spoon over the fish to cover.
3. TOP each portion with two sweet potato slices, cover with microgreens and serve, chilled or room temperature.