BlackBook Exclusive: Herringbone Los Cabos Exec Chef Alex Branch’s Ceviche Secrets

From bbook.com by Megan Martin
BlackBook Exclusive: Herringbone Los Cabos Exec Chef Alex Branch’s Ceviche Secrets

 

Its provenance is hotly debated. Ceviche is said to have come from the Moors, who brought it to Peru in the Spanish invasion. Others declare it an Incan dish – invented somewhere between Ecuador and Peru. Polynesia, North Africa, the Middle East all come up in origin stories.

But no matter where it’s from, there’s a reason ceviche has transcended borders and cultures for thousands of years: its simplicity, light citrusy flavors, and natural cooking method make it a go-to dish from Latin America to North America to Europe. 

Alex Branch, exalted Executive Chef at Vidanta Los Cabos’ Herringbone and Casa Calavera, knows plenty about making a heavenly ceviche. He features them on his menus, using locally sourced ingredients (an essential component), in regular rotation. We recently had the privilege of sitting down for an life-altering ceviche brunch with him on a recent visit to the posh resort – where he imparted insider tips and exclusive recipes. 

Here’s what we had – and what you need to know to do it yourself.

 

 

 

The Insider Tips
Freshness is Everything: Always use fish that “smells like the ocean, not like fish,” says Branch. Buy from a reliable market, keep it on ice until ready to make your ceviche. Make sure to remove the bloodline in the fish too. It will add a fishy flavor.
Go Line-Caught: It’s a more sustainable method of fishing. Also, when fish are pulled out of the ocean alive, they’re less susceptible to absorbing bacteria from the ocean water.
Avoid Oily, Fatty, or Muscle-y Fish: The best fish for ceviche are semi-firm, white-fleshed fish like sea bass, striped bass, rockfish, snapper and cod. Avoid fish like mackerel, salmon, and swordfish.
Don’t Over-Marinate: Most chefs cure their fish for about 10-20 minutes or until fish is just opaque, depending on the desired doneness. Don’t overdo it or the fish could fall apart.

 

The Exclusive Recipes 

 

Tuna Poke
Ingredients
35 g Bluefin tuna, diced
15 g charred pineapple, diced
8 g Fresno pepper, sliced thin
10 g Maui onion, cut ¼” slices
5 sprigs fresh cilantro, divided
1 pinch chili powder
1 oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 oz. Fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 oz. soy sauce
½ oz. sesame seed oil
Lime wedges for serving
Directions
Clean the tuna and cut into bite-sized chunks, set aside. In a bowl, mix the pineapple, onion, Fresno pepper, 3 cilantro sprigs, juices, soy sauce and sesame seed oil. When ready to serve, add the tuna to the pineapple mixture and top with the rest of the cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.

 

 

 

Totoaba “Sea Bass” Ceviche
Makes: 4 servings
Ingredients
80 g white fish like sole, sea bass or grouper
20 g kosher coarse salt
50 g lime juice, separated
30 g white onion, chopped
15 g olive oil
 5 g serrano chili pepper, finely diced
10 g California banana peppers, thinly sliced
28 g capers
15 g green olives, roughly chopped
80 g cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
20 g fresh cilantro leaves
1  diced avocado
Directions
Dice fish and add salt and lime juice to cure, set aside 10-20 minutes. Add in chopped onion, olive oil, serrano chiles, and Banana peppers, mix well. Add capers, olives, and tomatoes. Top with cilantro and a wedge of avocado.

Ceviche de Maiz
Makes: 4 servings
Ingredients
80 g white fish
25 g lime juice
20 g kosher coarse salt
30 g white onion, chopped
16 g olive oil
30 g sweet corn on the cob, removed from cob
30 g white corn on the cob, removed from cob
 5 g serrano chili pepper
20 g avocado, diced into cubes
20 g fresh cilantro leaves
Directions
Dice fish and cure with salt and lime juice, 10-20 minutes. Add chopped onion, olive oil, and corn, mix well. Add serrano chili pepper and avocado cubes. Top with cilantro and serve.

 

 

Above two images by Megan Martin

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