Heads up ceviche lovers! El Chiva is an authentic Mexican seafood delivery business that delivers fresh Mexican ceviche and aguachiles across Sydney. It is a family owned business started and run by a Mexican couple who emigrated from Guadalajara to Sydney three years ago. Forget notions of Tex Mex, this is authentic, fresh Mexico on a plate! With all home delivery, opt for contact-less delivery where possible.
The El Chiva business is a team of two. Alejandra Rodriguez takes the orders via messenger or text and her husband Rodrigo "Chiva" Busto cooks everything. "Everyone knows him as Chiva," laughs Alejandra. The nickname after which the business is named after was from a youthful stint as a soccer player. Rodrigo was nicknamed after Chivas, the nickname for a Mexican professional football club based in Guadalajara, Jalisco in Mexico.
Alejandra and her husband first met in Guadalajara. In 2014 she briefly visited Australia and returned to Mexico where the two got married. Soon after they both emigrated to Sydney, Australia where they have lived for the past 3 years. They chose Australia for a couple of reasons: firstly to practice their English speaking skills. The other reason was, "It's legal and you don't want to be illegal. As soon as you arrive to Australia in less than one month if you're a hard worker you're going to find a job. There are a lot of facilities," says Alejandra.
For the past two years they've built this business bringing the flavour of Mexico to Sydney. So what makes a great Mexican ceviche? "Totally fresh fish," says Alejandra, "the ingredients are very important. We wanted to give it a real authentic taste and it is how you'd find it if you go to Mexico and go to the beach. Ceviche is not like a city thing," explains Alejandra. "And sour cream oh my god we don't use it," she says.
While they started with clientele from Mexico who missed the food from their home country but now their customer base is split into 50/50 Mexican and Australian. "We have a French guy that every week he orders everything and there's a group of men from Manly that are over 60 years ago who get together to play cards and we cater for them," says Alejandra.
The El Chiva menu is short and sweet and features six types of seafood dishes with a mix of Northern Sinaloa and Jalisco food. There are ceviches and aguachiles which are both similar concepts of fish "cooked" in lime juice but aguachiles have green chillies and coriander added to the marinade. There are three aguachilies on the menu: Aguachile Verde with prawn green chilli aguachile, Aguachile Habanero with prawn and abanero chilli aguachile and Aguachile Petrolero with prawn oil aguachile.
The Ceviche de Pescado or Fish Ceviche is the most popular followed by the Atun Especial or Tuna Special. Each of the six selections are sold in 500g ($24-$30) or 750gram ($30-39) portions.
Monica, who found El Chiva online, gets four types of seafood delivered to her house and we split each batch in half. They also give us two boxes of Saltine crackers, one each to eat with the ceviche. I adore the Aguachile Petrolero or prawn oil aguachile and Aguachile Habanero although they're all wonderful. The extra chilli and coriander in the aguachiles gives them an extra boost of flavour although the classic Ceviche de Pescado is also delicious. Monica and Mr NQN love the tuna special and each one has its own unique and super fresh flavour and piquancy. In some of them the lime stands out more, in others the chilli.
Then the following weekend I try another three dishes as by now I'm absolutely smitten with the food at El Chiva. The Aguachile Verde has split prawns, cucumber and onion in that wonderful aguachile lime juice with a perfect balance of fresh flavours with slices of creamy avocado on top. The Ceviche Especial is made with chopped prawns in a tomato, onion and coriander sauce with avocado and is also delightfully tangy and well balanced.
There's also a special of Camarones a la diabla (diable prawns), a lightly spicy cooked prawn dish with a tomato and garlic base. All washed down with what has to be my favourite version of horchata (a spiced rice milk).
While they still hold down jobs in other sectors they hope that one day the food will be their full time job. "From a long time ago my husband's family loved to eat seafood and it is a family tradition. The family unit loves to eat together every week. We want to share and continue the family traditions and bringing the food of Mexico and freshness of the beach," says Alejandra.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like ceviche? If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?