In the summer when we went to see my dad in his yellow little house in the middle of the Swedish forest he defrosted some char that he had been saving for me. He gave me an ice block of fish and I could do with it what I wanted. My dad is a bit conservative with what he eats so I didn’t tell him what I was going to make. As long as I didn’t tell him it was raw I knew he was going to like it.
When I was a child my dad would go to Norway every winter to ice fish for char. I used to love those pan fried char fillets and my dad always let me have all the female fillets, they were brighter and pinker in the flesh. I thought they were the tastiest. As I grew up the climate got warmer, lakes didn’t always freeze over and it could be years between fishing trips until the char fishing stopped altogether. Last winter it had again been cold enough and my dad and his friend went on a fishing trip. It was a real treat to have char again!
I didn’t want to eat it pan fried this time. I wanted my dad to try something he hadn’t had before. The first ceviche I ever had was in Antofagasta, Chile many years ago. Finely chopped sea bass with lemon and lime juice, a pinch of fresh chilli and coriander. It was beautiful. We had conch ceviche in Belize a few years later but the coach was rubbery. When I make it at home I often use place. This char version has a bit of a Swedish take on it using dill.
Fresh water fish has to be frozen for 48 hours to kill off bacteria and parasites before you can eat it raw. Marinading in lemon and lime juice won’t kill bacteria the way that heat does so it’s important to use the highest quality fish. The acid does not cook the fish but causes the proteins to change and become denatured, appearing to be cooked.
I make up the marinade and add in the fish last. Marinading time 15-20 minutes, no more.
- Char (plaice, sea bass, halibut or turbot)
- lemon and lime juice
- red onion
- olive oil