CORVINA FACTS

It's a white firm flesh fish similar to Sea Bass

Orangemouth Corvina: Caught at the Salton Sea, California. Note pigmentation of mouth and fins, and pointed tail.
The only other Corvina family fish with a similar tail is the endangered totoaba. Description and photo courtesy Zack Thomas.

 

  Corvina is a general name for a boatload (pardon the expression) of fish found in many different parts of the world. They belong to the scaienidae family, which is better known as "drums or croakers." Drum fish and croaker fish are differentiated by whether they produce a drumming sound or a croaking sound when they pop their heads above the water (we're not making this up). There are 270 species within the drums and croakers family, ranging from less than a quarter of a pound to hundreds of pounds. In Central America alone, there are dozens of varieties

Shortfin Corvina, Cynoscion parvipinnis: Photo courtesy Dean Mitchell.

 

Although drums and croakers are primarily saltwater fish, and therefore theoretically fine for use in ceviche, James Peterson, author of Fish & Shellfish (Canada, UK), cautions against eating them raw. They often contain parasites, he says, which is the general reason you don't make ceviche with freshwater fish. Cooking renders the parasites harmless, as does freezing for at least 24 hours at 0F, but the acid of ceviche does not.

Finding parasite-free, impeccably fresh fish is the great challenge of making ceviche these days. Peterson says he used to tell people to rush home with their fish and make ceviche at once, but now says unless the fish was previously frozen or you have some sure-fire way of determining that it is free of parasites, freeze it yourself for at least 24 hours, slowly thaw it in the refrigerator, and then start cutting limes.

In this country, drums and croakers on the market include Atlantic Croaker, Black Drum, Red Drum, Kingfish, Spot, Spotted or Speckled Sea Trout, Weakfish, White Sea Bass, Orangemouth Corvina, Yellowfin Corvina, Golden Corvina, Shortfin Corvina, etc., etc. (Drums and croakers are totally unrelated to either bass or trout, so there is simply no truth in advertising in the fish world.) More of these varieties come from the Pacific, and are more available on the West Coast.

Whether any of these species will make a ceviche that matches your childhood memory, the intermediary freezing/thawing step (which is outright heresy to many ceviche lovers) will probably affect the texture in unexpected ways. But perhaps this is what constitutes the ceviche of the new millennium.

Known in Peru as Ceviche, this dish is a national favorite, making use of the country's incredible variety of super fresh fish and shellfish. Ceviche dates back to the Incas, who seasoned their fish with sea salt and aji (chile peppers) and cured it in the acidic juice of tumbo, a tart tropical fruit. The Spanish later introduced citrus fruits, and lime juice became the acid of choice. To approximate the taste of pre-Hispanic ceviche, reduce the lime juice in this recipe to 1/2 cup and add 1/2 cup passion fruit pulp, scraped from halved, fresh ripe passion fruits with soft, crinkly skins. Look for fresh aji amarillo chile peppers in stores that carry Peruvian ingredients. If you can't find them, use aji amarillo paste, available @ any Peruvian market or section of your supermarket.


RECIPES

Corvina with Garlic Butter
(Corvina al Ajillo)

 

Ingredients


fillet of Corvina
chopped garlic
butter
salt to taste
white pepper to taste
chopped fresh parsley
wedge of lemon

Preparation
Salt and pepper the fish fillet on both sides. Melt the butter in a skillet and cook the fish until done, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove the fish and add the chopped garlic. Cook gently over medium heat until soft, but not brown. Place the fish on a plate and spoon the garlic butter over it. Sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley and serve with lemon or lime wedges.

 

Another recipe

Fish Salad Cooked in Lime Juice

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds white-fleshed skinless fish fillets such as flounder, sole, or Corvina (cod)
  • Salt
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice (about 12 limes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small clove garlic, chopped very fine
  • 1 or 2 fresh aji amarillo (yellow Peruvian chili), seeded and chopped fine, or substitute the canned aji
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine (1/2 cup)
  • 3 or 4 lettuce leaves
  • 4 ears of corn, cooked and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, roasted in the skin, peeled, and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  • 1 pound yuca, peeled, cut into little-finger-sized slices, and boiled until soft
  • A few strands of yuyo (a tangy seaweed, optional)

Preparation

1. Cut the fish into strips 1 1/2 inches long by 1/4 inch wide. Soak the strips in lightly salted water for 1 hour to tenderize. Drain well.

2. Put the fish in a bowl and fold in the lime juice carefully. Add the salt, garlic, and aji and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Just before serving, mix in the parsley, cilantro, and onion.

4. To serve, line a bowl or large platter with the lettuce. Place the ceviche in the center. Surround it with 3 separate mounds: corn pieces at the top of the platter, sweet potato slices on one end, yucca on the other. Garnish with the seaweed, if using.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read about Caribbean Fish Species

   

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