In honor of Peruvian Independence day, July 28th, I (Chefmama Krysia) made something like a ceviche serrano for my parents, also called ceviche de chochos or ceviche de tarwi. It was hot here in the Boston-area and I wanted to make something light and refreshing. Normally, I would make a "traditional" ceviche but I didn't have time to pick up fish. What I did have was some garbanzo beans and it reminded me of the time I ate ceviche serrano from a random produce stand in "the middle of nowhere." But, it was definitely not "nowhere." It was the region from which my grandparents came and every turn made me feel closer to them. I also discovered that this style of ceviche was also "traditonal!"
Several years ago Kahlo and I took a family trip to Peru. We were a large group traveling together -- the two of us, my father, my four siblings (one of them pregnant!), and a couple of significant others. We went to many places but the main event was going to this pueblito for the annual three-day festival for San Roque, the patron saint of the town. Mancos is one of the small towns found at the base of the Huascarán Mountain and it is the place from where my Peruvian family originates. Not far from Mancos is Yungay, a town with a tragic story of a 1970 natural disaster (earthquake) and a large cemetery honoring the many lives that were lost. It was en route to visit this cemetery that we happened upon a produce stand.
The produce stand was small in size but every piece of wall space, every place where you could hang something, every place where you could place something down, was chock full of produce, snacks, drinks, and then heaped on a serving platter, ceviche de chochos (lupine bean). I ordered some ceviche to take back for the ride home. The woman grabbed
a small, clear plastic bag, spooned the ceviche in it, twisted it closed and handed me a miniature spoon. We all climbed back into the minivan taxi and proceeded to open our little bags of goodness. I untied my bag, rolled back the top and took my first bite. I had never had it before this trip. I could not contain the excitement I felt tasting the bright acid of the lime juice, the chew of a well seasoned soft bean, the crunchiness of the thinly sliced red onion, red pepper and, in this case, the heat of small chile peppers (aka aji limo). I was in sensorial heaven. I had only ever had or made ceviche with fish and other forms of seafood. It had never occurred to me to use beans!
I have never seen chochos in my local Latin American food market (I LOVE this place: Mayfair Foods in Allston), but I was able to find them through Amazon by an Ecuadorian company. It's currently out of stock but I'll have to try and order that for next time or remember to pick some up next time we visit Peru. This special Saturday, however, I did a classic improvisational move and decided to use what I had in my cupboard. I present to you, amig@s, Ceviche de Garbanzos! I have to tell you, it was pretty dang good. It is also vegetarian so it can appeal to many! Buen provecho!
Ceviche de Garbanzo - Serves 6-8
4 lbs cooked garbanzo beans
1 large red onion, sliced thin
1 red pepper, sliced thin
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook garbanzo beans, drain, and let cool.
Thinly slice red onion and wash three times in cold water. This will reduce the bitterness.
Squeeze limes and retain juice.
Slice red pepper thinly.
Chop cilantro roughly.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add touch of cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Listo!
Traditionally, ceviche is also served with choclo (large corn), camote (sweet potato), and cancha (toasted corn).
To prepare the accompaniments
Choclo: I buy this frozen and already taken off the cob. You can also buy it in a can this way.You simply boil in salted water for about 10 minutes.
Camote: I peeled and boiled 3 large sweet potatoes with a stick of cinnamon, a whole orange squeezed and tossed right in, a few cloves and 2 tablespoons honey (I normally would also add a chunk of chancaca (aka cane sugar cone, panela or piloncillo) but I didn't have any on hand. All these ingredients give the sweet potato some depth.
Cancha: I bought this dried and packaged. I toasted about 7-8oz with a bit of oil in pan for about 10 minutes. It should be crunchy when done, not chewy.