Martin Morales is the unofficial ambassador for Peru – combining his unbeatable knowledge of Latin American ingredients with a super-creative blend of art, music and culture. Here he shares his recipe for solterito salad.
The chef: Martin Morales, 45, Chef and Founder of Ceviche Family (which includes Ceviche and Andina Restaurants).
The story: Born in Peru to a British dad from the Midlands and a Peruvian mum from the Andes, he moved to Leicester aged 11 after his father was threatened by the Shining Path guerrillas. He did Saturday jobs as a commis chef, bar tender and silver service waiter, before finding freedom and happiness DJing and cooking whilst at Leeds Uni. This led him to create a night where he DJed and cooked at the same time with music and food from around the world.
After working as a music producer, DJ and record company exec for EMI, Disney and Apple alongside Steve Jobs, Martin sold his house to follow his passion for cooking and open London’s first Peruvian restaurant. Ceviche in Soho was born. (Ceviche is the national dish of Peru, a combination of raw fish, marinated in Tiger’s Milk, lime juice and chilli). Since then he’s opened 5 other award-winning restaurants under the Ceviche and Andina umbrella. Oh and his Ceviche Family also runs a record label and an art gallery!
The philosophy: Deep knowledge of Latin America’s food and ingredients, gastronomic history and cuisines blends with extreme and almost punk creativity. Food mixes with art, music, theatre and design. All within the context of creating a team that works like a family who care for each other. Ceviche Family’s team motto is ‘Aqui se cocina con cariño’ (Here we cook with love) – that’s what Martin’s granny taught him.
The plan: ‘To grow Ceviche Family and create a restaurant and entertainment group that is truly loved by its customers, fans, team and everyone it touches. With dishes that make you go to heaven, drinks that wake you up, music that makes you boogie, art that makes you smile and a vibe that makes you want to come back for more.’
The can’t-live-without ingredient: ‘Amarillo Chilli. It’s a beautiful yellow and aromatic, has just the right kick, is super versatile and excellent for stews, dips, ceviches, salads and even cocktails. It’s the only chilli kids love. It’s native to Peru and the Andes, and is used in many of our dishes: Don Ceviche, Huancaina Dip with Potatoes, Prawn Chowder to name a few.’
Easy way to impress: ‘Seafood tiradito platter. Imagine you are the artist Jackson Pollock, using fresh ingredients instead of paints. Make the platter in front of your guests using super-fresh ingredients starting with thinly sliced scallops and small neat tuna chunks. (These will be raw, so buy the freshest fish – sashimi grade. Go to your most local fishmonger; make friends with them, look them straight in the eye and ask them for the freshest fish. Or order it letting the supplier know it’s to be eaten raw.) Add finely chopped red chillies, hazelnuts or pistachios, spring onions, chives, finely sliced gooseberries or goldenberries, green mango, red onion, nori, etc. Squeeze some lime juice or yuzu and balance with salt. Use squid ink, small dabs of avocado puree and coriander stems to add colour. Then assemble all this one piece at a time on the flattest, largest dish, platter or wooden chopping board you have. Like art. Carefully, with love and with all your creative strengths, balancing compositionally each ingredient at a time. It will create the most colourful, healthiest and fun-looking dish your guests have ever had.’
How to perk up your lunchbox: ‘With tamales. Tamales are corn dumplings wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed in water. They are eaten in several places in Latin America but Peruvian ones are the perfect size, can be made vegan or meaty, and are often moist and healthy. We have the perfect tamale at Andina which we like to call the ‘Ode To Corn’ as it’s made with three different preparations of corn. Steamed, stewed and dried. And has sweet and savoury flavours and crunchy and moist textures too. And it’s just the right size for lunch, is easy to carry in your lunchbox or eat at your desk or at home and has all the vitamins, proteins and minerals you need for that perfect midday break.’
The recipe: Solterito salad (broad beans, tomato, fresco cheese and botija olives salad)
The word solterito means ‘unmarried’ and I find it intriguing that this emblematic Arequipa regional dish gets its name because it was once eaten only by unmarried men. Light but filling, this salad helped loveless bachelors to stay svelte while searching for a wife. I love this as a main at lunchtime: it bursts with flavour and is bright to look at.
125g purple potatoes or regular floury potatoes
125g new potatoes
75g broad beans
75g choclo corn kernels or sweetcorn kernals
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
8 Peruvian botija olives or Kalamata olives, halved
1 amarillo chilli or 1 medium-heat red chilli, deseeded and julienned
75g queso fresco, crumbled or 75g cottage cheese
2 spring onions, very thinly sliced, to serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE DRESSING
75ml olive oil
50ml white wine vinegar
1⁄2 tbsp rocoto pepper paste
A few parsley leaves, finely torn
1⁄4 small red onion, finely chopped
1. Put all the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Put on over a high heat and bring to the boil. Salt the water and cook the potatoes until tender (about 15 minutes), then drain and allow to cool. Cut into cubes or thick slices.
2. Bring another saucepan of water to the boil over a high heat Salt the water, then add the broad beans and choclo or sweetcorn and cook for 3 – 4 minutes until just tender. Drain and allow to cool.
3. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Whisk the olive oil and white wine vinegar together with the rocoto paste and season with salt and pepper. Stir through the parsley and red onion, then set aside. (Store any leftover dressing in a sterilised jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.)
4. To assemble the salad, put the potatoes, broad beans and choclo or sweetcorn in a bowl with the cherry tomatoes, olives and julienned chilli. Add the cheese, pour in the dressing and stir to combine. Finally, decorate with a sprinkling of spring onions.
Recipe taken from Andina: The Heart of Peruvian Food by Martin Morales, published by Quadrille, £27
Interview by Rosalind Lowe