Today is National Ceviche Day, and I want to celebrate by telling you about the best ceviche I’ve ever eaten (and how it was disguised as a soup).
Let’s set the scene! About two weeks ago, I was eating brunch at a restaurant called Otium in downtown Los Angeles. (Otium was one of the top five restaurants I’ve ever visited. Probably it was in the top two. But I’ll rave about that at a later date.)
What’s important is that I ordered the Shrimp Tom Kha with cucumber, tomatoes and lettuce.
Tom kha is Thai coconut soup. Generally speaking, it owes its incredible flavors to a combination of coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger, lime leaves, and the pungent but indispensable fish sauce.
I was intrigued by the idea of Thai-influenced brunch, but I wasn’t at all prepared for the dish that arrived at my table. It was actually ceviche! Now that’s what I call a plot twist!
A cold Thai soup base shimmered before me, filled with unreasonably tender lime-cooked shrimp, fresh vegetables, and crunchy fragments of sweet fried onion. These little bits of fried onion were so compatible with the fish sauce-enhanced coconut that my freaking third eye flashed open.
But the thing that absolutely bowled me over was the level of seasoning. This thing was salted right up to the max without tasting salty — an almost mythic achievement in balance.
And did I mention this whole thing was actually the filling for a lettuce wrap?
Have an undercooked National Ceviche Day. Otium, I love you. ∎