Tucked away amidst the hipster haunts of Haji Lane is vinyl record bar meets South American small plates concept LongPlay. Perhaps better known for its cocktails – and we’ll get to those – we heard that head Chef Jorge also whips up a mean ceviche, Peruvian style. He invited us in for a look at how he takes it from fresh fish to plating, so come on in!
Chef Jorge’s Red Snapper Ceviche ($18++)
It all starts with Malaysian red snapper delivered fresh daily – see that poor fella being sliced open on the right? If only he knew he was destined for greatness.
Jorge first adds ice cubes to the filets to keep them cool and fresh, then dabs in yellow chili paste from Peru along with house-made chili padi sauce, salt, and red onion.
The most prominent flavour combo (and key ingredient according to Jorge) comes in the form of house-made Tiger’s Milk: a combination of lime juice, fish trimmings, celery, ginger, garlic, onion, & coriander stem. He then adds a dash of evaporated milk before mixing, and finishes with fresh coriander for a final toss.
Jorge elevates this dish by adding a perfect dollop of sweet potato puree, which he then garnishes with purple sweet potato crisps.
The result? An incredibly fresh and flavourful ceviche that is perfectly mellowed by the addition of the sweet potato. As we took the first few bites, Chef Jorge couldn’t help but add that ‘it’s the perfect time and temperature for ceviche – hot and midday, served just like we would have it in Lima.’ The tart milkiness and cold fresh snapper set off by a light kick of spice was indeed a perfect afternoon pick me up.
Hailing from Latin America, Jorge has transformed the LongPlay menu into something more reflective of his background, though he’s quick to point out that the flavour profiles of South American cuisine have a lot in common with local fare: both involve ‘spicy, sour, and strong flavours’, which means he’s a sucker for prata, laksa, and BBQ stingray. A man after our hearts, indeed.
Head Bartender Kannan’s El Rey Maradona ($18++)
On the beverage side of things, head bartender Kannan recently revamped the drink menu to pair with the South American bites. The cocktails are split into four countries (Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, and Argentina) and celebrate the regional flavours of each. Kannan is a huge Argentine football fan, so he was quick to point us in the direction of those tipples. He is especially enamoured with the legendary Argentine footballer Maradona, so we took a closer look at how he mixes the El Rey Maradona (The King Maradona), a celebration of Argentinian culture, flavours, and a different kind of royalty.
1 oz each of Fernet Branca, Martini Rosso (sweet vermouth), and Luxardo Maraschino
The key flavour is Fernet Branca, a popular digestif made from 27 herbs that people in Argentina typically drink with Coke. Kannan admits ‘It’s kind of weird the first time you drink it.’ He’s right: Fernet Branca is an herbal-cough-syrupy bitter tasting liqueur, and if you ask around you’ll find that it’s an intensely polarizing beverage. Let’s see how it turns out…
Fresh lemon juice and Coke, as fresh as Coke can be
Mint, ice, and some mixing magic
Served in a crown-embedded glass complete with a picture of Maradona himself
With an herbally refreshing “ah” we’re on the beaches of Lima (hey, one can daydream!)
Combined with the sweet nuttiness of the Maraschino liqueur, the complexity of the vermouth, and the sour lemon, the Fernet Branca adds just the right amount of biting coolness perfect for a hot Singapore afternoon. Kannan says that people tend to try it based on the name, and it has quickly become one of their best-selling drinks (pro-tip: it pairs well with the ceviche).
Not convinced yet? Head on over to LongPlay and taste it for yourself – Jorge and Kannan would be happy to share their love for South American culture and cuisine with you!
Find it along 4 Haji Lane.