Natural Wine Killers: Green Chutney Sea Bass Ceviche with Fried Chickpeas and Domaine des Sablonnettes Zeste 2022

Last month, I was lucky enough to visit Mexico City for the first time. I promptly fell in love – with the ever-present mist that hung in the air and refracted the sunlight; with the parks made gaudy by bougainvillaea and jacaranda; with the museums full of Aztec carvings, the late-night bookstore cafes, the cocktail bars. And, of course, I fell in love with the food.

The best meal I had in the city was the Mexican–Indian fusion lunch we enjoyed at Masala y Maíz (Masala and Corn), an ingenious restaurant located in the overlap between the cuisines – the citrus and chilli, the char and freshness – and which remixes them to astonishing effect.

All of the dishes were great, but the best was the green chutney ceviche, which used the citrusy, fresh and spicy Indian condiment to cure raw sea bass, swapping in fried chick-peas for corn and adding avocado for verdant measure. This recipe is a shameless attempt to recreate that original magic, and I think it gets pretty close, with its textural interplay, brightness and unabashedly vivid hue.

At Masala y Maíz, our dishes were paired with skin-contact wines, and I wanted to do the same here. Domaine des Sablonnettes’ Zeste is an ideal choice. Made from 100% Chenin Blanc, it is, true to name, zesty, as well as fragrant with stone fruit, citrus and white flower notes. Macerated on whole bunches for a month, this coppery wine has richness to match its verve, a tannic structure like a trellis that all those blossoms can climb up. It likewise stands up to the ceviche’s boldness while adding its own sweet harmony.

Returning from holiday is always bittersweet, but in this case, I was happy to carry culinary memories and inspirations home with me. I hope you find them equally transportive.

Green Chutney Sea Bass Ceviche with Fried Chickpeas
Loosely adapted from Nik Sharma and Bon Appétit
Serves 4 as a main

For the green chutney:
100g coriander leaves
100g mint leaves
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 bird’s eye chillis, destemmed
3 limes
60ml cold water
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon amchoor (optional)
1 large pinch flaky sea
salt, such as Maldon
1 large pinch sugar

For the fried chickpeas:
1 400g tin chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and thoroughly dried
200ml frying oil
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon fine sea salt

For the ceviche:
2 échalion/banana shallots, peeled and very thinly sliced
Juice of 2 lemons
4 large skinless, boneless fillets sashimi-grade seabass (approx. 550g total)
1 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 ripe avocados, diced
Small handful fresh mint leaves

1. First, make the green chutney. To a blender, add the coriander, mint, ginger, garlic, and bird’s eye chillis. Zest the limes over a small bowl and set aside (you’ll use the zest for the fried chickpeas), then add their juice to the blender, alongside the cold water. Seal and blend on high for 1–2 minutes, or until the chutney is smooth and vivid green.

2. Add the spices, salt and sugar to the blender. Seal and blend for 20 seconds until incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Transfer the chutney to a large bowl and set aside.

3. Next, prepare the fried chickpeas. Before beginning, ensure the chickpeas are completely, thoroughly dried (if not, they will explode dramatically when added to the frying oil). Add the oil to a large frying pan and place over medium-high heat. When hot, add one chickpea to test; it should sizzle vigorously. Add the remaining chickpeas and turn the heat down to medium-low (you may need to cook them in two batches, depending on the size of your pan). Fry for 15–20 minutes, or until the chickpeas are dark golden and crunchy. Repeat if needed.

4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried chickpeas to a bowl lined with paper towels. Sprinkle over the cumin, cayenne and sea salt, as well as the reserved lime zest, and mix to combine. Set aside to cool.

5. Now, start prepping your ceviche components. Begin with your quick-pickled shallots. Add the sliced shallots to a bowl and squeeze over the lemon juice. Set aside for 20 minutes.

6. While the shallots are marinating, do the same with your fish. Cut the seabass into ½-inch cubes, removing any stray bones, and transfer to the bowl of green chutney. Using a spatula, mix gently to combine and to evenly coat the fish. Allow the citrusy chutney to “cure” the fish for 15-20 minutes; you’ll know it’s ready when the fish has gone opaque.

7. To finish the ceviche, add the chickpeas, avocados and mint leaves. Remove the shallots from the lemon juice and add. Mix gently to combine. Just before serving, add the fried chickpeas and mix through. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

8. Divide between plates and serve immediately.

Claire M Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beer hound and all-around lover of tasty things. You can follow her at @clairembullen. For more recipes like this, sign up to our Natural Wine Killers wine subscription - you'll receive Claire's recipe and food pairings plus expert tasting notes for three amazing wines like this one every month.