Club + Resort Chef (C+RC): What was the inspiration behind this dish?
Daniel Montano (DM): I was born and raised in Bolivia. Growing up, my dad would travel to Peru often. He always talked about Peruvian ceviche and how the fish is eaten raw. That was a crazy concept for me to grasp. I was raised eating everything well done—and fish was usually way overcooked.
One time my dad called from the Lima, Peru, airport. He shared a few exciting details about his trip and then mentioned he had a surprise for me. He was bringing ceviche for me to try. As you can guess, it was inedible by the time he got home, but I was fortunate to visit Peru a few years later with my dad and tasted ceviche for the first time. It was a little weird initially, but I ended up loving it.
As a professional chef, I have always been obsessed with “fancying” ceviche up. So, hopefully, this dish is it.
C+RC: What about this dish makes you most proud?
DM: Many Hispanic cultures have delicious foods but fail to present them on a plate beautifully. It should taste good and look good. Most of the times I’ve had Peruvian ceviche, it is just a boiled slice of sweet potato. That’s boring. I am proud of the way sweet potato is used in this dish. You have sweet potato in a panna cotta form, sweet potato puree, and diced sweet potato. I flavor all of the sweet potatoes with roasted garlic and oil.
C+RC: How would you describe the flavors in your own words?
DM: It should taste like a super delicious fish broth with citrus to balance the flavor and make you want to return for another bite. The large white kernelled Andean corn adds a great texture and a different flavor than yellow corn would. The sweet potato panna cotta is a fun way to represent the traditional sweet potato served with Peruvian ceviche. The fish should firm up just a bit with the salt and citrus. The Rocoto pepper in the Leche de Tigre will add some spice. It is a refreshing dish, easy to eat year-round in Peru.
C+RC: Why is this the dish you chose to feature above all the other dishes?
DM: It is a dish I truly love. I will order it almost every time I see it on a menu. I want to bring a spotlight to Hispanic food anytime possible. It is a group of cuisines that can easily get skipped in the country club scene, unless it is the usual taco and fajita night food.