You know what sounds like a bad idea? Sitting down to a steaming hot dinner smack dab in the middle of summer. Here are five cool ceviches to stop the August sweats.
Clockwise from top left, toward centre:
Valdez’s mixto ceviche
Ceviche was a no-brainer for Valdez owner and head chef Steve Gonzalez: “I like to be known for big, bold flavours, and this is the best way to bring that forward,” he says. His Peruvian mixto (mixed) ceviche combines octopus that’s been cooked sous vide; calamari that’s been marinated overnight, lightly seared, then marinated again in lime, garlic, and cilantro; and mussels that are steamed in beer and orange juice. Tender sweet potato and crunchy dried corn kernels finish a dish that hits you with a sour punch before melting into a salty summertime brine.
$17. 606 King St. W., 416-363-8388.
Foxley’s sea bream ceviche
Ask about a great ceviche in this city and it won’t take long for someone to drop Tom Thai’s name: He’s been making terrific ones for more than a decade. For this version, he uses sea bream, which “is quite fatty but doesn’t have a strong fishy taste,” he says. “It’s clean and has a nice amount of oil, so it complements the acid in the citrus really well.” Thin slices of the sea bream are drizzled with olive oil, yuzu juice, fried onions, and minty shiso leaves. “The flavours shouldn’t be too strong,” Thai adds. “The focus should be on the fish.”
$16. 207 Ossington Ave., 416-534-8520.
T.O. Ceviche Bar’s ceviche mixto
Operating out of Voulez Vous Café, this pop-up by co-owner Sean Lacey and Peruvian Alvaro Valencia blends Canadian ingredients with the food Valencia grew up eating. “Every Saturday, you have ceviche and beer with your friends in Lima,” he says. Their summer ceviche mixto features tuna, basa fish, shrimp, squid, and scallops in lime juice. The fish is garnished with herbs like oregano and chives, in-season berries, mango, ginger, and the fiery Peruvian aji limo pepper. The next pop-up dinner is on Aug. 16—make your reservation now.
$14. 1560 Queen St. E., 647-719-3499.
Bent’s spicy tuna and watermelon ceviche
Chef Susur Lee learned about ceviches from longtime friend Douglas Rodriguez (dubbed the “godfather of nuevo Latino cuisine”). For this dish, Lee adds a hint of soy sauce and yuzu to his little chunks of tuna, plus shredded radish for a spicy crunch. Cubes of juicy watermelon bring sweetness and an element of surprise, since they’re the same size, shape, and reddish hue as the tuna. To finish: more crunch. “Whenever I want to add something crispy, I think of Chinese donut fritters,” he says. “It changes it up but maintains the integrity of the ceviche.”
$14. 777 Dundas St. W., 647-352-0092.
La Carnita’s ceviche tostada
Since La Carnita is the home of all foods handheld and delectable, chef Jonathan Hamilton puts his puck of rich tuna ceviche atop a crispy (but sturdy) tostada to avoid the need for utensils. The tuna is tossed in coconut milk and lime juice, then mixed in a salsa of tomatoes, cucumber, onions, and house-made habanero hot sauce. A little guacamole is spread on to the fried tortilla for extra-creamy texture and some practicality. “Tostadas are pretty messy, so this helps hold everything together when you pick it up,” he says.
$6.25. 501 College St., 416-964-1555.