Ceviche at Las Brasas by Grace Huseth
Last month, Peruvians celebrated their Independence Day — a remembrance of the successful fight against the Spanish to regain Peruvian independence. What better way for Atlantans to celebrate Peruvian identity than to have a taste of true seafood ceviche the Peruvian way.
Ceviche (suh-VEE-chey) is a popular Latin American dish made of fresh raw fish cured by citrus juices and spiced with onions and herbs. In the U.S. we often serve ceviche as a shrimp appetizer with tortilla chips, but authentic Peruvian ceviche is the only rendition at Las Brasas.
Owners John and Maria Koechlin opened the original Las Brasas eight years ago on Howard Avenue in Decatur. After retirement, their son Michael turned Las Brasas into a destination by keeping the old favorites and incorporating some fresh, new dishes. After closing the Howard Avenue location, which is now home to the Doggy Dog hot dog stand, Las Brasas moved to a larger space just a few blocks away. The new location opened at 614 Church St. in fall 2015 and the restaurant plans to celebrate its one-year anniversary in the new space in late September.
While a large painted mural on the side of the building draws in diners initially, the addition of the family’s Peruvian ceviche recipe keeps them coming back.
Michael Koechlin personally picks up fresh seafood daily at Buckhead Beef and crafts his family’s ceviche recipe by hand. The restaurant’s most popular variety is the Ceviche Mixto ($17), which comes with tender flounder fillet, soft calamari, sliced octopus tentacles, and tiger shrimp is marinated with salt and lime juice. Then the mixture is topped with thinly sliced sweet onions and cilantro for a pop of freshness. Koechlin says the addition of popped cancha corn kernels and cold sweet potato slices served alongside offer a mellow respite from the ceviche's bold flavors.