Cook This: Street Cart Ceviche—ceviche carretillero—from The Latin American Cookbook

Ceviche carretillero is a mainstay at cevicherías, beach shacks and market stalls in Lima

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Our cookbook of the week is The Latin American Cookbook by Virgilio Martínez. Tomorrow we will offer an interview with the author.

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To try another recipe from the book, check out: Bolivian-style turnovers (salteñas) and drowned sandwich (torta ahogada).

Chef Virgilio Martínez’s flagship restaurant, Central, is a block from the Pacific Ocean in his hometown of Lima, Peru. Every morning, street vendors turn fresh local fish into ceviche, one of Peru’s national dishes.

“We have a market here, and you see how people in the morning, they start making ceviche for people who are in line. There’s a long line of people just waiting for small plates of ceviche with seafood and fish,” he says.

Ceviche carretillero (street cart ceviche) “for me it’s something normal,” adds Martínez. “I see it everywhere in Lima and I really like it.”

Leche de tigre (tiger milk) forms the basis of the Peruvian salted fish dish. Here, Martínez uses lime juice, chili peppers, onion, garlic, ginger and fish trimmings to make the aromatic sauce, which he pours over pieces of fresh seafood.

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  1. Bolivian style turnovers - salteñas - from the Latin American cookbook.

    Cook this: Bolivian-style turnovers — salteñas — from the Latin American cookbook

  2. Drowned sandwich - torta ahogada - from The Latin American Cookbook.

    Cook this: drowned sandwich – torta ahogada – from the Latin American cookbook

Ceviche may be a mainstay of Lima’s beach shacks and market stalls, but Martínez still considers it “pure luxury” not to be taken for granted. With the proliferation of global restaurant chains, he supports high-quality ceviche sellers as much as possible.

“We’re starting to lose these kinds of street vendors, because they can’t compete with these big brands,” says Martínez. “So for us, it’s very important to consume that (and) I’m glad we still have the culture of going to street vendors.

The Latin American Cookbook
The Latin American Cookbook is the second book by Peruvian chef Virgilio Martínez. Photo by Phaidon Press

Street cart ceviche

Ceviche cartillero

Preparation time: 20 minutes

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2 cups (16 oz/475 ml) lime juice
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
8 oz (225 g) fish trimmings
1/2 ají limo (see note), seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 lb 8 oz (680 g) fresh white fish fillets (such as bass or sole), cut into 3/4-inch (2 cm) pieces

To serve:
Cancha serrana (corn nut, aka roasted corn)
Boiled corn kernels
Boiled sweet potato slices (1/2 inch/1 cm)

Step 1

Put the lime juice, celery, half the onion, garlic, ginger and fish trimmings in a blender, along with a few ice cubes. Blend for 3 minutes at high speed. Strain into a bowl. Add the ají limo, remaining onion and coriander, then season with salt. In another bowl, pour the mixture over the fish and mix. Serve immediately with cancha serrana, corn kernels and sweet potato on the side.

Serves: 4

To note: Aji limo is a very spicy chili that comes in a variety of colors (red, orange, yellow, green, white, purple, etc.), the most famous being used raw for ceviches.

Recipe adapted/reprinted from The Latin American Cookbook by Virgilio Martínez. © 2021 Phaidon Press