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Dining

Ceviche: A Love Letter

The raw deal from Gastón Acurio and Martin Morales

"It's a warm kiss from the sea, not a one-night stand."

That's how Martin Morales, chef-owner of the Peruvian restaurant Ceviche in London and author of a gorgeous new cookbook by the same name ($30), describes his drunken scallops (see the recipe), a simple crudo that we're smitten with, too.

In fact, we're crushing hard on all ceviche right now: Sparklingly fresh and endlessly adaptable, the combination of raw seafood "cooked" in acid (and the national dish of Peru) is how we want to cool off when temperatures rise.

"All you need is a cutting board, a knife and some fresh ingredients," Morales says. "It takes no fuel at all. That's why it's the perfect summer dish."

Gastón Acurio, the unstoppable chef and national hero of Peru, stopped by the Test Kitchen recently to talk about the allure of his country's dish and obsession (watch the video): "Ceviche is the art of the perfect balance between acidity, spiciness and freshness," Acurio said, tasting his chopped chiles, carefully slicing the sea bass and inspecting each lime slice before squeezing.

But you, too, can become a ceviche samurai. Morales' drunken scallops are pretty effortless: raw scallops are sliced and dressed very lightly with lime juice, pisco and cilantro oil, then topped with sweet pomegranate seeds and diced chiles.

Silky, delicate, bracing, beautiful...the scallops hit all the notes a good ceviche should. The only trick is making it immediately before serving.

"Ceviche is like eating a plate that's full of fireworks," says Morales.

We can feel the sparks.

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