VEGAN Lychee Ceviche flavored with citrus, green chilli, mint, onions & ginger, it’s a delicious plant-based alternative.
Ceviche is one of those things I’ve always found difficult to wrap my head around. Not that I’ve ever been presented with a plate of them; I simply know of them from watching food travelogues on TV, and watching fish being consumed raw, cooked only by acidic ‘denaturation’ as I later learnt, always brought to my mind the scene of Gollum consuming raw fish in Lord of the Rings – Return of the King. So naturally, the whole thing always irked me.
But I’d never let something as silly as ‘irk’ keep me from learning more about something delicious, for curiosity about all things food runs deep within me.
I slowly learnt that when prepared right, it was entirely safe to consume and that when the fish was absolutely fresh (as traditional ceviche demands it to be), it only ever tasted sweet and smelled of the sea.
Nevertheless it was too late for me and fish anyway – I gave up on fish when I was 12 and had a traumatic ‘fish-bone-stuck-in-throat-for-5-days’ incident that put me off all kinds of fish – boned or boneless. Slowly I lost the taste for it, even though it once used to be my favorite.
It’s all a moot point, for I’m vegan now and there is no place for ceviches on my table. But the concept of cooking with acid never left me.
I was at the grocery store over the weekend and saw these gorgeous red Lychee being ignored by most of the shoppers, either in in their hurry to get through their lists or simply from lack of knowledge about its deliciousness. It being one of my favorite fruits, I went pouncing at the moderate sized bin with wild abandon, but not before a thought crossed my mind: it’s too red, what if it’s one of those ‘staged and dyed fruit’ from last season pulled from cold storage.
With each passing year, I grow more and more suspicious of this world. I miss the innocence of youth, when trust was easier placed.
But then I looked closer and saw them, leaves and stems intact. One whiff and it smelled of Lychees mingled with the smell of earth when it begins to rain. I grabbed as many as I modestly could, making sure to leave them for others to enjoy. ‘Tis the season for Lychees, my friends. To eat seasonally has almost become a privilege now, although in another time, it was simply the norm.
While normally I’d have simply devored them as they were or blended them into a drink, I was weirdly reminded of ceviche and how lychee flesh closely resembled the texture and color of raw fish.
Inspired by the flavors in this recipe for a ‘fishier’ lychee ceviche, I decided to make mine with just lychee and simply omit the fish out of it.
You first begin by peeling your lychees. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve always despised the process – sometimes the skin peels off readily, but sometimes it chips, embedding itself into the flesh, which then needs to be picked out meticulously, drastically ruining the joy of eating lychees.
I find that the method above makes it all a little more civilized.
Then you de-seed it – a task made simple, again, with a knife.
And toss it in with the remaining ingredients. The longer it sits, the citrus draws out the lychee’s juices, further infusing the flavors into the ceviche. It is all so glorious, words cannot explain.
While the recipe here serves just one person, it is easily scaled. Multiply based on the quantity of lychee at hand, or the number of guests to feed. While you can prep the ingredients ahead of time (peel + de-seed the lychees, grate ginger, slice chillies and onions, squeeze lemon juice), these ingredients are best assembled 15-30 minutes before eating. This will give the citrus enough time to work its magic, drawing out the juices and infusing the flavors without making it too soggy.
But if soggy is what you prefer, who am I to stop you? I just made ceviche without fish. There are clearly no rules here anymore.
- Wash and peel the lychees. If using canned, drain them from the syrup and rinse to remove extra sweetness.
- De-seed and slice the lychees in half.
- In a bowl, combine the lychees with the remaining ingredients. Let sit in the refrigerator for atleast 15 minutes before serving.
- You can eat them with tortilla chips (like salsa) for a more crunchier version.
1. To best 'shave' onions, use the sharpest knife to slice as thinly as possible. When the citrus reacts with the onions, it turns them almost translucent and soft, creating purple lines to stud the lychee ceviche beautifully. If you care not for aesthetics and would rather prefer the crunch of a thicker slice, feel free to slice them a little bit thicker.
2. The tail end of a green chilli almost never has seeds, which is why I use them here. If multiplying the recipe to serve more people, use a whole chilli, de-seeding them as you normally would.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 36Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 5mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 1g