Imagine, a warm September evening in the outskirts of Amsterdam. Long tables full of anxious people. In front of them Martin Morales, preparing a Don Ceviche, the signature dish of his restaurant, with tigermilk and al lot of Peruvian ingredients. Seabass in a mixture of cilantro, limejuice an peppers all from that colorful country with its coast, Andes mountains and Amazonial forests. Peru. Caleidoscopical as he is, Martin Morales brings color, taste and swing in your life. Whether it is the food, DJ-ing or even his corporate past, he is an artist. Bright and fun! But the story of Martin is one about passion, following his heart. Let’s see if we can conceive a dish for Martin from the answers he gives to my virtual questions. Needless to say that this will be an dish full of color, nicely styled and with a Burgundian twist. And a touch of wine.
Who is Martin Morales? Tell me some more
Peruvian, chef, live in London, restaurateur, music producer, dj, love my country, love food from around the world as well as music from around the world. I’ve worked with Steve Jobs, Miley Cyrus, Ferran Adria, The Puppets, Joss Stone and several more interesting people. Im the author of Ceviche – The Cookbook- which has won a few awards and was translated into 10 languages. Creator and boss of Ceviche and Andina restaurants and bars in London. Check this video from Ceviche: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELn37tZlHlU
I’ve been told I am the pioneer of Peruvian food in Europe. I also run Tiger’s Milk Records – a music company dedicated to releasing Peruvian music and have just launched a TV channel dedicated to Peruvian food and arts:
Ceviche TV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xiblfsJcl0
In March I will be opening Ceviche Old Street – a Peruvian restaurant, bar and art gallery in East London. Watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXmG_QR1p8A
How did your attraction for food and cooking start?
Watching my great aunts in Peru, Carmela and Otilia and joining them in the kitchen from a very young age. Doing small tasks in the kitchen, then learning their recipes, techniques and most importantly their ‘touch’…we call that ‘sazon’. Its the way you cook and flavour your food. They used to say ‘Aqui se cocina con cariño’: here we cook with loving care. That’s my, and my company’s motto too!
After years of corporate jobs you started you own restaurant Can you tell something about it and what it was like when you started?
I’ve always been entrepreneurial, even when I worked with large companies. I”ve worked with start ups all my life alongside large companies so the change was easy; but at the time I started with Peruvian food no-one knew nor did they want to know! They thought I was crazy. It was a huge struggle. I had to sell my house and put every penny I had to launch my first restaurant and proove that the food from my country is special and the way me and my team do what we do is also unique to us and very special.
You worked as a DJ, you worked with I tunes, what did you experience over there? Did it give you an eye for entertainment? Don’t you think food is entertainment too?
DJing gives you an insight into creativity, and makes people move. People can be moved in many ways so long as you know how to love people. I do; I want to excite people with my food and its the same as music. Its joyful, uplifting, inspiring and moving as well as entertaining. Food and restaurants need to touch every sense. Not just your tastebuds.
What is your favorite type of food? Are you a nouvelle cuisine guy or the more basic cook?
There is no such thing as basic. Flavour and love are difficult to achieve in dishes and only for those who give themselves fully to them. The rest are just doing a job! I love fod made with taste and passion.
And nouvelle cuisine is dead – it was never ‘alive’; it was a science project.
Which type of restaurant you like the most and which one you dislike? I am very curious about that. I know that it takes a lot of stamina to create something.
I like restaurants that excite and entertain me, that give great flavours and that are fun; where you can see that people really care. These can come in many shapes and sizes. And they aren’t always restaurants: they can be pop ups, food vans, festivals, etc as well as beach shacks and fine dinng restaurants but I don’t ever find great food and atmosphere where very wealthy people dine.
The Peruvian kitchen is very special, you told that, while preparing your ceviche, what is the magical touch?
Fresh ingredients, great recipes, a great technique, and timing.
You traveled a lot, lived in two totally different cultures, what was your most striking moment?
Since the day we opened Ceviche it feels like having sex every day. I love it and it makes me feel great. I loved the food from Peru and now I am presenting it and my creations based on Peruvian food for the whole world to try through my cookbook, our Ceviche TV You tube channel and more.
What was de biggest difference for you to overcome when you started with Ceviche?
Too many to mention. But with care, love and belief in what we do we always overcome.
What is your attitude to Britain and the UK food scene nowadays?
It’s in a very exciting place. London and soon Manchester will follow. London is world leading in terms of restaurants. No other city comes close in terms of variety and overall quality.
On food, which food do you like and which you would never eat?
I love food with healthy and sustainable ingredients that make my tummy happy. I hardly ever eat chips. The latter is a lie.
Which wines do you like?
I drink Peruvian pisco. It’s as complex as wine and accompanies food just as well.
Can you tell me something about your “foodprint” We waste a lot of food in the Western world?
We just won top marks at Ceviche AND Andina – my two restaurants – for sustainability from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
What else do you want to tell?
I would like to open an incredible, beautiful, unforgetable Peruvian restaurant in Amsterdam. If you are an experienced restaurateur and want to do this too, let me know. Martin@cevicheuk.com Please Dutch cooks read this one carefully!
Talk and Table, the recipe
Based on these answers I will make a reward recipe for Martin, in which I try to join sea food with flavours from the book Ceviche by this wonderful cook. After a few days of thought I found a recipe in my own cookbook “Gereons Keuken Thuis” It’s called tian de saumon bourguignon. It is a dish of fresh salmon with lightly fried leeks and avocado. The fish is cured with lemon. A bit ceviche style so to say. The leek gives it a sweet touch and the avocado and cream smoothness. A dish to pair with a wunderful white Pouilly Fuissée. From the vinyards just beneath the Solutré rock in southern Burgundy. I hope that he will like it.
400 g of the freshest salmon you can find
3 thin leeks
125 ml crème fraîche
2 tomatoes peeled without seeds in tiny cubes
4 stems of dill to garnish
3 tbs of chopped parsley
2 tbs of chopped chives
salt and freshly ground black peper
Cut the fresh salmon in tiny cubes. mix the fish with the juice of 3 lemons, 1 tbs of extra virgin olive oil, chives, parsley, salt and abundant black pepper. Put the fish in the fridge for at least half an hour. Cut the leeks in tiny rings and stir fry them shortly in hot oil. Let the rings drip out on some paper towel. Mix the fried leeks with some crème fraîche and leave to cool. Cut the ripe avocados in pieces and mash them in a blender with some lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Add som cream to it. Take four wine glasses and start to fill them layer by layer. Start with the leek, then the salmon, ( make sure that the salmon is leaked out properly to avoid a too strong lemon juice taste)
Third you add the avocado mousse. Top the tian with some tiny tomato cubes and garnish with a little stem of dill. Buen provecho Martin!
Note: in Dutch the cookbook Ceviche is published by Fontaine Uitgevers, www.fontaineuitgevers.nl