Nigella Eats Everything

Writing on food and France

Prawn ceviche with avocado

Our evening binge-TV is Modern Family. There are 11 seasons so it looks like we’re covered until next summer (who am I kidding, we’ll be finished in a month). In an episode we watched the other night, a character lamented, ‘Do you remember when summer meant fireflies, cut-off shorts and ice cream trucks?’

Do I remember? Don’t I just. And the alarming thing about this is that unlike Claire Dunphy in Modern Family – stay-at-home mother of three, habitually tearing her hair out about all of them and her husband – I don’t have children. Or a husband. So what has happened to the summer of yore?!

Summer in Toulouse entered with a noticeable drumroll. The thick heavy heat intensified as the weeks wore on, and humidity smothered us like a damp blanket throughout the day with little respite at night. Forget Modern Family’s fireflies – mosquitoes float lazily through the flat’s open French windows, leaving a trail of chaos, itchy skin and pockmarked ankles in their wake. Despite the humid atmosphere, France is currently burning under the sun – grass is parched and dry and don’t get me started on our garden (somehow the grass can’t grow but weeds on the other hand seemingly don’t need water). Geckos soak up the heat on sun-drenched pavements, then wildly scatter as you approach – at least that sudden movement out of the corner of your eye is nothing to be worried about.

summer and prawn ceviche

So, yes, it’s quite clearly summer. But that romance? The cut-off shorts and ice cream trucks? Are those summer days drifting away? (*gulp* Olivia Newton-John RIP).

Sorry to be the voice of grown-up doom, but the summers of our childhoods have gone. Once upon a time, there was a sense of endless possibility, of at least two months without school or homework, and there were picnics and homemade lemonade, and time to read books for fun. Throughout my pre-teens I read stacks of American teen-romances – of girl gangs cycling through suburbia, a babysitting club tackling adventures, of 16-year-olds driving their cars to the local 7-eleven for sodas (even though I had no idea what a 7-eleven was, the sense of freedom to do so was intoxicating), of summer romances with the school outcasts and bad boys, of summer camps and popsicles and baseball.

My summers as a child were less all-Americana, however we still ate ice lollies (the UK-version of popsicles) and ice creams on sticks, splashed about in paddling pools and stuck the end of our garden slide over the inflatable edge so we had a real water-slide. I took pride in my first ever bikini (with a pre-puberty figure and pot belly) and enjoyed a taste of that teen-chick-lit freedom on our annual holidays to Cornwall with family friends. Unlike at home where we lived on a busy main road and also had no local friends so there was no one to go and see, we cycled everywhere around the residential resort of self-catered cottages, galloping across fields, playing in trees, and barging into our friends’ houses. Sharing a room with my sister, we felt like we were having a week-long sleepover, plus our room had a TV (!) and we stayed up late watching Cartoon Network. The familiarity of this home-bound adventure kept us safe, yet the differences to normality brought the excitement. That for me was the possibility of summer – independence and child-like freedom, with nothing to do but go swimming, take cliff-top walks to the beach and enjoy late bedtimes.

Now though, those childhood escapades of summer and that sense of endless, boundless summer days… are slipping away. Gaylord and I, like all self-respecting adults with bills, have to work. We take our chances where we can with those late bedtimes although we don’t watch much Cartoon Network these days, and also have had adventures with a visit back to the UK. However, that came with a less glamourous side to summer – namely hostels with no air-conditioning, bunk-beds and tiny shared showers.

This is why I take my summer escapism through the food I make in our little kitchen. We have to have an escape from the drudgery of the rat race somewhere, and I love an adventure with my taste buds. Summer ingredients are by far the best out of all the seasons, and to many that might sound obvious, but to me – a winter girl at heart – this is essentially heresy. But, now I no longer care. Give me summer in a bowl please. Which is what I have to offer you here with prawn ceviche.

summer and prawn ceviche

What is prawn ceviche?

Ceviche is raw seafood marinated in citrus juice and it originates from Peru, yet many other Latin American countries have regional recipes. I tried octopus ceviche at a traditional Mexican restaurant in Playa del Carmen (read more about my Mexican feasting here). Traditionally, Peruvian ceviche is white fish served with sweet potato, and the citrus marinade is called leche de tigre (which literally means ‘tiger’s milk’) and it cures the fish – the acid in the citrus juice breaks down the fish’s proteins and ‘cooks’ it, meaning it becomes safe to eat.

Since trying the octopus ceviche, I’ve been wanting to get my hands on some prawns to cure with my own leche de tigre – this has been my hope for at least a year now which is why prawn ceviche made it’s way onto my food bucket list of 2022 (and if you’re curious to know what’s next, the full list of 10 bucket list dishes is here). Prawn ceviche is my 5th dish to accomplish – finally I’m halfway! Thank god I only put 10 on the list.

Now, I’m going to throw in a curve-ball. You can also make a ‘cheat’s version’ of prawn ceviche – if you’re not a fan of raw seafood then this is the recipe for you.

summer and prawn ceviche

In my defence, I went to buy raw prawns yet the only prawns available were cooked and pink. And many ceviche recipes online call for poaching the prawns before marinating. Which in my opinion kind of defeats the purpose of ceviche but never mind. The ceviche is instead a fresh and light salad of zingy juicy prawns paddling in a citrusy bath, along with cucumber, avocado and finely chopped jalapeno and red onion. The red onion pickles slightly in the citrus juice, so there is a bonus tang to the sweet seafood. Toss all the ingredients together, serve with coriander and eat with tortilla chips, no need for cutlery. It’s a messy summer’s evening meal – sticky fingers ready to lick clean. Like a trip down summer’s memory lane.

A cheat’s prawn ceviche with avocado, cucumber and coriander

Is there anything more refreshing than big juicy prawns marinated in lime juice? Add diced cucumber to the mix and you have the most thirst-busting dinner imaginable. A dinner of summer dreams.
This is a cheat's version because you don't need to cure the prawns – these prawns are already cooked. Therefore they have a firmer texture, and you don't have to stress about whether it's safe to eat.
Always use the freshest, best quality prawns you can find, and ideally buy and eat them on the same day. This way the sweet flavour of the prawns is fresh rather than fishy.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Resting Time20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: Latin American, Peruvian
Keyword: avocado, ceviche, coriander, cucumber, prawns, shrimp
Servings: 2

Ingredients

  • 400 g fresh cooked prawns peeled and deveined
  • Juice of 5 limes plus the zest of 1 lime
  • of a large red onion
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 9-10cm cucumber
  • 1-2 slices of pickled jalapeno or fresh, and add more if you like heat
  • A sprinkle of fish sauce
  • A handful of fresh coriander
  • Sea salt
  • Tortilla chips to serve

Instructions

  • Chop the prawns into bite-sized pieces and toss them in a bowl. Slice half of the onion into thin strips, then the rest into tiny dice. Add to the bowl, along with the lime juice and zest. Toss everything together, add salt to taste and leave to marinate in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  • Chop the cucumber, deseeding the watery centre, before dicing it into even-sized pieces. Dice the avocado. Finely chop the jalapeno. Mix all of it into the prawns and lime juice, toss everything together, and sprinkle over a little bit of fish sauce (not too much! Take it slow because it's pungent stuff!). Toss again to combine.
  • Tip it all into a bowl and garnish with coriander. Serve with tortilla chips and maybe a refreshing cocktail (which is finally one of the perks of being a grown-up)

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4 responses to “Prawn ceviche with avocado”

  1. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen Avatar

    Now that’s the dish for me! Looks so good.

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      Yes! It really is delicious, and so simple – which is what we all want from our dinners!

  2. Chef Mimi Avatar

    Great post. Great photos!

    1. Nigella Eats Everything Avatar

      Oh thank you so much!

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