And now, a (little) lesson in the food of my people. I’ve been wanting to feature some sort of ceviche or tiradito recipe for the longest time as tribute to my Peruvian heritage. Peru is the birthplace of ceviche, did you know?
If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of experiencing Peruvian cuisine you have been missing out, my friend. It’s a fascinating amalgamation of global influences and flavors- Incan, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese, to name a few. As a child I remember thinking it odd that my Peruvian abuelita would regularly prepare Arroz Chaufa, a dish identical to the fried rice one would order for Chinese takeout. But once I learned about the cultural history of Peru and how its many micro cultures shaped the culinary landscape, it made much more sense.
Tiradito traces its roots back to the food traditions brought over by Japanese immigrants. It’s similar to ceviche in that it features raw seafood, but differs from it in a couple of ways: the fish is sliced rather than cubed (like sashimi), and then lightly tossed in a sauce so it’s truly raw (also like sashimi), rather than ceviche’s method of marinating the fish in citrus so it ends up being “cooked” in the acid.
In the spirit of cultural blending, my tiradito has a decidedly Californian spin, with the addition of avocados and perfectly in season, locally grown blood oranges. The sauce that flavors the scallops is a combination of freshly squeezed lime juice, lime zest and tequila. Pisco would have been the obvious choice of liquor if I had wanted stay traditional (it being the national drink of Peru and all), but tequila is just what I had on hand. Plus I like that it’s a little nod to my Mexican side. A drizzle of cilantro oil, some paper-thin slices of jalapeño and fancy slivers of sea salt are the perfect finishing touch.
I weirdly feel like if I had to pick a dish to personify me, this would be it. And I am so okay with that.
Drunken Scallop Tiradito
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and stems
- 1/2 cup grape seed oil
- 4 jumbo diver scallops sliced thinly into thirds
- Zest and juice of 1 lime
- 1 Tbsp. tequila
- 1-2 blood oranges segmented
- 1/2 avocado thinly sliced
- 1 red jalapeño thinly sliced
- Flaked sea salt
- Blanch the cilantro in a small pot of boiling water for about 15 seconds. Plunge into a bowl of ice water to shock, then squeeze in paper towels to remove any excess water.
- Add cilantro to a food processor along with grape seed oil and a pinch of salt. Blend until combined, then transfer cilantro oil to a bowl and set aside.
- Place scallops into a bowl and add lime zest, juice and tequila. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes.
- Divide scallops equally among two plates along with blood orange, avocado and red jalapeño. Season with salt, drizzle with cilantro oil and serve immediately.