Saturday, May 27, 2017

Coconut and Lime Ceviche as a starter or canape, from the kitchen of Pinetrees Lodge on Lord Howe Island

Coconut and Lime Ceviche

Greetings from Food and Wine week on Lord Howe Island. Ceviche is typically made from very fresh raw fish which is "cooked" or cured in citrus juices such as lime or lemon. With other ingredients added such as fresh herbs and spices, it is a delicious, light and zingy starter for any meal. We used a very fresh fillet of Kingfish, about 500g, trimmed and cut into 1 cm cubes. The fillet needs to be at least 1 cm thick. However any firm white-fleshed fish could be used. With this recipe, the actual cooking of the fish is the easy part, as the acidulant in the lime juice  “cooks the raw fish”.

It is important to save your energy for finding a really good seafood distributor as the freshness of the fish is the secret to the success of this dish. According to Alasdair Nicolson, the talented Executive Chef at Pinetrees Lodge on Lord Howe Island, the safest way to ensure the freshest  fish is to buy a whole fish and fillet it yourself, or go fishing as he often likes to do in the pristine waters around Lord Howe Island. Or ask your seafood supplier to fillet it for you after you have selected your fish. Filleting a whole fish requires some experience and a very sharp knife.

Alasdair Nicolson, demonstrating how to fillet a Kingfish

We enjoyed a great week over at Lord Howe Island, and as it was Food and Wine Week, there were cooking classes each day, wine tastings before dinner each night, and lots of exercise and sightseeing during the day. I'd like to share this cooking class with you, as  I think the Ceviche was one of the stand out dishes of the whole week, served as a canape one evening, with another variation of ingredients as a starter on the dinner menu, and we enjoyed lots of sampling when this dish was assembled. Alasdair is a very generous with sharing his expansive knowledge, and is very unpresuming at the same time. One of the really nice things about staying at Pinetrees was the availability and friendliness of the Chefs and staff. Ben, who is the talented and very approachable Restaurant Manager, and his staff, enjoyed imparting their knowledge of each dish served to us, and proudly promoted that all of the fresh herbs and edible flowers, such as basil, coriander, and nasturtiums which appeared on our plates came from the Pinetree's herb and vegetable gardens. Being on an island can be challenging, and means that restaurants need to be as self sufficient as possible. Whilst a lot of food served in restaurants around the world now reflects global trends,  and can be quite similar, the food at Pinetrees seems to imbed the values of the island into it's cuisine, combining the ability to be flexible,  and sustainable at the same time. 

Ingredients for  the Dressing for Ceviche crushed in a Mortar and pestle

1/2 bunch of Coriander and roots, washed and finely chopped
1 stalk of lemon grass
1 Clove of garlic
4 Kaffir Lime Leaves, finely chopped
2 chopped chillies, finely chopped ( not the hot variety)
Pound the above ingredients in a Mortar and Pestle or mince finely in a food processor

Cooking marinade

2 tablespoons of Nampla Fish sauce (or any other good brand)
Juice of 2 limes
(Fish Sauce and Lime juice needs to be balanced. i.e. same quantity of each, depending on how juicy the limes are)
Little bit of sugar, according to your taste
Kara brand Coconut Cream

Mix the Fish Sauce with the Lime juice and add the other finely crushed fresh ingredients to it to make the Sauce which will cook the fish.

Add the Sauce to the raw cubed cubed fish in a bowl just before eating. The fish shouldn’t be left to marinate too long in this mixture as it will cook the fish.

 Then add about 2 tablespoons of Kara Coconut Cream to the fish mixture. This particular brand won’t separate as some Coconut Cream does when mixed with citrus juices and curry pastes. (This brand is also very good when making ice-cream)

Decorate your Ceviche with peanuts and black and white sesame seeds, and garnish to finish with sprigs of fresh mint and coriander.

An aerial view from Kim's Lookout, which was a steep 1200 metre climb to the top

Lord Howe Island is well known for it's Kingfish, which was on the Dinner menu each night but always presented in a very different and delicious way. It is caught sustainably by the local fishermen as the Chefs tell them each day how many fish are required, and only that number are caught and delivered. In 1982, Lord Howe was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Property, in recognition of it's beauty and biodiversity, and it's significance to the planet. The pristine beaches and oceans continue to survive, because of a very effective recycling model on the island, and an active army of anti-plastic warriors.

Below are photos taken on the shoreline of  beautiful Ned's Beach, where fish wait to be fed, not caught.

Thanks for visiting. I hope you enjoyed this brief visit to Lord Howe Island.

Best wishes



  1. We love it there-it's so gorgeous and yes ceviche is wonderful there. We did the same lesson :D

    1. That's interesting that he did the same lesson with you. When were you there?

  2. I have never been there, Pauline. It sounded like a fabulous week.


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