Cooking with the seasons is rarely a chore. There’s always something new just coming in to season, some additional flavour to get excited about, a new harvest to inspire you.

Nature is always waving her arms and mouthing, “This! Over here. It’ll go brilliantly with this. And they harvest at the same time of year – it’s like I planned it!” before wandering off chanting, “what grows together, goes together”.

Except for now, of course. Now, Nature is taking a nap. She gave you all the cabbage before she went to bed and the radishes won’t arrive until she wakes up in April. If you are lucky, she left you some kale and turnips to keep you (and the sheep) going, but if you have just moved allotments like me then I’m sorry honey, but you’re on your own.

That said, if you listen very hard, even in these most frugal times, Nature is still giving you the odd clue – a little hint, like a mumbled word in her dream-filled sleep.

For example, left to fend for ourselves we have managed to eek out a rhubarb harvest by forcing the plants in Yorkshire (see my earlier blog on forced rhubarb for more). Meanwhile, over in Seville, where Nature is a bit more spritely in February, there are sour, savoury oranges in abundance. Sweet, pink rhubarb meets sharp Seville orange? I think this could be a natural combination. The hints are there you see, you just have to work a bit harder is all.

So, orange and rhubarb – sound like a dessert, right? Wrong. Seville oranges are not the sort of girls you want in a pudding – far too acidic, not even a hint of sweetness. But that acidity is perfect for the task of curing fish ceviche style. I love ceviche, as I do all raw or nearly fish really, but it’s not usually a great vehicle for seasonal veg. Traditionally it features chillis which I can grow (just), but I’m lousy at the coriander and avocados are cloud cuckoo land. Still, the main definition of a good ceviche is, I think, the fish ‘cooked’ in acid and the combination of flavours and textures – sweet, soft fish meets citrus zing meets sweet and sour crunch. And that, that I can do with more seasonal forced rhubarb and Seville oranges…

Rhubarb and Seville orange ceviche

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Serves: Serves 6 as a starter

Rhubarb and Seville orange ceviche

The beauty and interest of this dish belies its simplicity. A perfect light lunch of colourful starter to brighten up a cold winter day and make the most of the season's rhubarb and Seville oranges.

  • ½ red onion
  • 2 spears forced rhubarb
  • 3 seabass fillets, very fresh
  • 2 Seville oranges (got to be Seville, regular ones don’t have the acidity to ‘cook’ the fish)
  • Micro leaves or cress to serve
  1. Chop the onion very finely and put it in a small bowl of iced water for 10 minutes. Miss the stage at your peril. The ice water will soften the onion and remove that raw onion tang, not to mention the raw onion breath.
  2. Meanwhile, trim any mangy ends from the rhubarb and finely chop the spears. Aim for chunks no bigger than 5mm cubed.
  3. Skin the seabass fillets and carefully cut into 1cm cubed chunks. Go gently here, you want distinct cubes not mince, so use the sharpest knife you have and take it slow.
  4. Put the seabass in a bowl together with the rhubarb. Zest and juice the oranges then add this to the bowl too. Drain the onion and add one heaped tablespoon to the mixture. I don’t add all the onion at once because, depending on the size of your onion, you might not need it all and too much onion will overpower the dish completely so add with restraint.
  5. Season heavily with salt (it’s surprising how much this dish needs) and stir gently.
  6. Check the seasoning and add a little more onion and salt if you think it would help. Leave for anything from 1 to 5 hours to allow the citrus juices to cure the fish. The longer you leave it the more ‘cooked’ the fish will be. I like mine quite raw so 1 hour does it for me.
  7. To serve, heap into a bowl or scatter onto a plate then top with a few micro leaves for colour and crunch.
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