Preparing for L(a)unch at The Elephant Café + Thai-inspired Tilapia Ceviche with Avocado, Pomelo & Roasted Peanuts

The pounds I gained on our foodie holiday in Ireland and England disappeared fast as a result of the speed with which I hit the ground running on my return to Livingstone. Before leaving, I’d agreed with Safari Par Excellence‘s management to serve our first (test) meal on June 16. Which we did: a three-course lunch where every fresh ingredient was sourced from local producers, or from the wild.

Our first (unofficial) lunch at The Elephant Café was held last week.
Lunch for 16, on June 16, in 2016!  Photo credit: Sean Edington

Before this happened, however, a team of chefs and servers had to be hired. Kitchen equipment had to be tested, as did recipes. Our opening stock of ingredients and drinks had to be purchased. Menus had to be crafted, their leather holders had to be designed. So did a logo and a website. And let’s not forget the excruciating — for me at least — but essential administrative challenges that come with a new start-up. It’s been a hectic time in which, surprisingly, I’ve thrived.

A get-together of friends and area agents invited to our first meal at The Elephant Café. Photo credit: Sean Edington.
A get-together of friends and area agents invited to our first meal at The Elephant Café. Photo credit: Sean Edington

To date, two three-course lunches with completely different menus have been served at The Elephant Café. More are planned before we officially open on July 6, 2016. The local ingredients I used were sourced from Muchenje Farm, Eastwood Farm, Zambezi Fish Farm, Siandunda Village, Komanyana Village, Dambwa Market, Wessels Enterprises, Snell Investments, and our own Livingstone Fruit Farm. The menus I crafted were as follows:

Menu 1:

 

Mongongo Nut, Basil & Nasturtium Leaf Ravioli with Lime-Infused Beurre Noisette.
Mongongo Nut, Basil & Nasturtium Leaf Ravioli with Lime-Infused Beurre Noisette. Photo credit: Sean Edington
Chef Kenny plating the Edible Flower Couscous with Pistachios & Feta.
Chef Kenny plating the Edible Flower Couscous with Pistachios & Feta. Photo credit: Sean Edington
 Flourless Dark Chocolate Torte with Wild Sour Plum Ice Cream. Photo credit: Sean Edington
Flourless Dark Chocolate Torte with Wild Sourplum Ice Cream. Photo credit: Sean Edington

Menu 2:

  • Thai-inspired Tilapia Ceviche with Avocado, Pomelo & Roasted Peanuts (see recipe below)
  • Sindambi (Wild Hibiscus) & Sage-glazed Roasted Pork Belly with Star Anise, alongside a Smoky Roasted Carrot & Beetroot Medley, and a French Potato Purée
  • Meringue & Muchingachinga (Northern Dwaba Berry) Mess with Lavender Flowers

 

Thai-inspired Tilapia Ceviche with Avocado, Pomelo & Roasted Peanuts.
Thai-inspired Tilapia Ceviche with Avocado, Pomelo & Roasted Peanuts.
Sindambi & Sage-glazed Roasted Pork Belly with Star Anise, alongside a Smoky Roasted Carrot & Beetroot Medley, and a French Potato Purée.
Sindambi (Wild Hibiscus) & Sage-glazed Roasted Pork Belly with Star Anise, alongside a Smoky Roasted Carrot & Beetroot Medley, and a French Potato Purée. Photo credit: Vanessa Parker
Meringue & Muchingachinga Mess with Lavender Flowers.
Meringue & Muchingachinga (Northern Dwaba Berry) Mess with Lavender Flowers.

Thai-inspired Tilapia Ceviche with Avocado, Pomelo & Roasted Peanuts

Yield: 12 servings, for an appetizer

Ingredients:

Ceviche

  • 12 fresh tilapia fillets (about 50 grams each)
  • 4 limes, juiced + zested (zest divided in half)
  • 3 stalks fresh lemongrass, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 6 medium cloves garlic
  • 6 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 3 bird’s eye chilies, finely sliced with some seeds removed + 1 finely sliced, seeds removed, for garnish
  • 2 small red onions, finely sliced
  • 3 spring onions, green and white parts, finely sliced for garnish


Salad

  • 3 medium avocados + 1 avocado, roughly chopped to purée
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • salt to taste
  • 1 pomelo, peeled and segmented
  • 1/2 English cucumber, chopped into small squares
  • 1 cup peanuts, roasted and roughly chopped


Salad dressing

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon runny honey
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Method:

  1. Fillet the tilapia and refrigerate while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Add the lime juice + half the zest, the lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce, and granulated sugar to a blender and purée
    until smooth.
  3. Pour this mixture over the fish, with the chiles and onions, making sure all it is well-covered. Let the mixture soak for at least 4 hours, or up to 24.
  4. Whisk the salad dressing ingredients together until the oil is fully incorporated. Set aside.
  5. Peel and pit one avocado and puree in a blender with the cream, lime juice and salt (to taste).
  6. Chop the remaining avocado and cucumber according to your preference for plating. Carefully mix together with the salad dressing.
  7. Plate alongside the ceviche and garnish with avocado puree, roasted peanuts, spring onions, sliced chili, and edible flowers.

 

Thai-inspired Tilapia Ceviche with Avocado, Pomelo & Roasted Peanuts.
Thai-inspired Tilapia Ceviche with Avocado, Pomelo & Roasted Peanuts.

Annabel Hughes is an award-winning chef and blogger, and the creator of "bush gourmet" cuisine.

32 Comments

  • My God you are an amazingly talented, creative inspiration and it’s just the bomb that you are where you are, doing what you’re doing, with great people and your man you adore. Even with challenges that may arise, you will rise coz this is probably the life you dreamed of for a long time. Keep up the good work and great writing we all love and look forward to reading 👌👍👏

    Reply
    • I so appreciate this lovely, lovely comment, Mo. Thank you.

      Reply
  • omg… all looks totally delicious! Incredible, inspired talent!

    Reply
    • Thank you for your super-kind comment! 🙂

      Reply
  • Oh my! I wish I could be transported on a magic carpet to taste your delicious, creative food. Actually I’m transported just looking at it.

    Reply
    • I hope one day you are transported out here, Liz … one way or the other! Much gratitude for your interest and support. xo

      Reply
  • Looks like everything is a winner. Lots of good luck. I am sire with your wonderful creations itmwill be a huge success.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Gill … and wait for it. My seeds arrived this week! Can you believe how long they took to get here? They are now in a seed tray and I’m crossing fingers they will germinate soon. I’ll keep you posted! x

      Reply
  • Oh my word it all looks divine. Such hard work in your part. Keep it up and it seems sure to be a success x

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    • So good to hear from you on the blog, Chris. Thank you very much for your kind comment. I hope you make it out here one day! Love to you … x

      Reply
  • Annabel it looks, sounds and I am sure delicious. Very clever and unusual plates of food. Well done I am getting inspiration. My Morocccan evenings will include your couscous…xox

    Reply
    • So glad to hear that, Kate! And thank you so much for your continued interest in my food. It’s great to think that the two of us are cooking up a storm in Spain and Zambia. One day I hope I have a chance to taste your yummy food again! x

      Reply
  • Congratulations!!!💃🏻🍾

    Reply
    • Thank you, Georgie. We’re getting there … tentatively! 🙂

      Reply
  • Amazing, Annabel. The food all looks extremely delicious and I can’t wait to visit the cafe when next in town. Good Luck with the opening in July.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Belinda! Look forward to seeing you soon!

      Reply
  • Congratulations on your new venture. You certainly will be a hit with that mouth watering food and such a beautiful spot on the river. God bless

    Reply
    • I so appreciate your interest and support, Sally. Much gratitude!

      Reply
  • Mmmm! All looks and sounds delicious! Well done and best of luck from us all.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Molly! A day at Blue Strawberry I hope has a made a little bit of difference. 🙂 I hope, too, we’ll see you out here sometime … x

      Reply
  • Well done Annabel. Would LOVE to have been seated at one of the tables at the Elephant Cafe to enjoy this meal and scenery!

    Reply
    • I’d love you to have a seat at The Elephant Cafe, too, Cherie. Maybe one day? Thanks for your kind note. x

      Reply
  • Thanks for sharing all the pics along the way from the initial idea to the opening meal at the Elephant Cafe. Brilliant! Well done! Your delicious food and African venue sooooo works. Congratulations to you and the team! Ellies are doing a great job too. xxx

    Reply
    • So much gratitude for your interest and kind note, Hellie. It’s been quite a journey. I’ve just realized now that I started my blog two years ago today! 🙂 xo

      Reply
  • This all looks stunning – congratulations.

    Reply
  • Oh that has made my day! So miracles do happen or seven months, depending on how one looks at it.
    Great I so hope they do germinate. They can take as long as the mail so hamg in there!

    Reply
    • Miracles do indeed happen! I’ll keep a close look out for them, Gillian. Thanks so much again.

      Reply
  • I am so excited and happy for you!

    Reply
    • Thank you, chef mimi! You will have to come and eat with us one day! 🙂

      Reply
  • This recipe is absolutely delicious! It makes for the perfect appetizer to enjoy on a warm, sunny afternoon (preferably in the presence of elephants!!) The pomelo added a delightful fruity burst among the tangy flavors!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Elyse, for this super-kind comment. How happy I was that you were one of the first guests to eat at The Elephant Cafe! Come back soon … xo

      Reply

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