It’s been hot. Filthy, ridiculously, stupidly, desperately sell-your-own-mother-for-immediate-instigation-of-the-next-Ice-Age HOT (in this weather it’s everyone for themselves – sorry Mum).
For those of you new to the fun and games, I Do Not Do Heat Well.
Perth is a lovely climate in autumn, winter and even early spring but the period between December and the start of March insists upon withering stretches of 35°C + (95°F +) and It Makes Me Want To RAMPAGE.
Fans of Black Books will understand when I refer to Dave’s Syndrome, which causes victims to succumb to severe heat rage above 88°F (31°C) – think of deranged, bloodshot-eyed Manny on top of a car, beating his chest in wild animal fury after attacking an unsuspecting ice cream cart and you’ll the idea.
I was at the point of considering removing all the shelves from the fridge, figuring out how to keep the light on with the door closed and spending the days in there with a good book.
There I’d happily remain, refrigerated until the temperature returns to rational levels and in the process becoming the first animal to hibernate for the summer.
As you can imagine, the idea of doing any Christmas baking and indeed preparing anything that isn’t a salad or a Frosty Fruit has been a ludicrous notion (yesterday was a four Frosty Fruit day).
I was looking for a simple dish requiring minimal stove heat – something a wee bit special to mark the festive period – and this recipe answered the call. It’s from Ben O’Donoghue and Curtis Stone’s cookbook Surfing the Menu, chronicling their adventures around the Australian coast in the pursuit of fresh produce and terrific surf.
Ben recommends looking for sashimi-grade tuna with ‘a deep red colour, firm smooth flesh that doesn’t appear dull or watery and the cut should have a rainbow-like shimmer across it. Always have a smell; it should be fresh and a little salty.’
Before you need to slice it, pop it in the freezer for 20 minutes – this will make it a lot easier to slice through cleanly and avoid squashing the fish.
tuna ceviche with aromatic salad & avocado
from the recipe in ‘surfing the menu’ by ben o’donoghue & curtis stone
500 g fresh tuna
2 avocados, diced
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 cups loosely packed mixed salad leaves, including frisée, purple basil leaves, curly endive, mint leaves and baby basil leaves
1 bunch coriander, leaves picked and washed
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
juice of 5 limes
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp coconut milk
2 medium-sized thai pink shallots, finely sliced lengthways
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced lengthways
¾ cup vegetable oil
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp caster sugar
To make the marinade, mix all the ingredients together in a ceramic bowl.
To prepare the garnish, heat the oil in a small pan. Fry the shallots and garlic separately until golden, being careful to remove them before they burn (guilty as charged). Be aware that the colour will increase after they have been fried. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels; cool and reserve.
Rinse and drain all the salad leaves and coriander. Transfer to a bowl, cover and place in the refrigerator until required.
Using a very sharp knife, neatly cut the tuna into 1 centimetre (⅓ inch) slices. Delicately place the slices in the marinade, covering all the slices well, and leave for 5 minutes.
Season the avocados with salt and pepper and toss with the lemon juice. Toss the salad leaves and coriander with a little extra virgin olive oil.
Gently drain the tuna and arrange on each serving plate. Top with avocado, a handful of salad and a final drizzle of oil.
Grind the fried shallots and garlic with salt and sugar in a mortar and pestle until you have a crumbly texture.
Sprinkle over the salad and serve at once.