Chef’s Recipe: Yuzu Ceviche by Chef Mauro Gomez of W Retreat & Spa Maldives

I’m officially starting every week now with a series of posts entitled “Maldives Monday”.  Yes, I reckon your Mondays aren’t blue enough and I have the need to “torture” you further with more stories and pictures from our recent trip. Call it my way of turning your gloomy Mondays into a gorgeous explosion of turquoise, cerulean and indigo.

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One of the few people I missed most from the trips are the Chefs. I find them very fascinating. Perhaps it was their mysteriously cool exterior with their eyes hidden behind the darkest pair of shades. But, as soon as you get to know them, you’ll realise that there is an infectious bubbly personality hidden underneath that intimidating facade.

And to reiterate my point, here’s a specimen from my visit to the W Retreat & Spa – Maldives. Meet Executive Chef Mauro Gomez, the new Executive Chef who takes care of the entire island resort’s F&B outlets, including the W Talent’s Green Room (R&R area for the staff). It may sound like he means business and is a tough figure to deal with, but I swear the man is harmless. That is if you can get over the intimidation of his favourite toy – the giant cleaver.

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An Argentinian by birth, Mauro has been in kitchens since he was 12 years old. His family owns a traditional Argentinean/Italian (his Mum’s from Italy if you’re wondering) back in his homeland. So, you can say that cooking is in his blood.

With a desire to travel and live abroad, Mauro moved to Miami Beach, Florida in 1999 where he learned his chops as a professional chef. In less than 5 years, he landed a stint at The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa where he was responsible for the daily operations of the banquet kitchen – feeding a meeting space of over 245,000 square feet!

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Continuing his success story with the Starwood group of hotels, he moved over to Boston where his Clam Chowder at the Westin Copley Square was voted the best in Boston. Since then, he has also helped set up the W Atlanta Midtown – the world largest property within the W brand.

These days, guests at the W Retreat & Spa Maldives can find the chef working a golden tan, unfortunately, in front of the grill rather than on its dreamy stretch of beach. Ironically, the chef tells us while we hung around his open kitchen at one of the resort’s signature restaurant – FISH, that he enjoys snowboarding a whole lot. Perhaps, he should start picking up sandboarding instead!

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He’s been on the job for only a few months, but he’s already working his way to revitalise the menus at their B&F outlets. And you didn’t read that wrong, F&B outlets here are known as B&F outlets instead – but more about that in a later post. Bringing with him a lifetime of culinary experiences, Chef Gomez weaves his heritage with the magic and quirk of the W brand. The results are apparent in his refreshing twists on signature dishes like the Gaspacho (a peek into his South American heritage), Pizza (from his Mother’s family and his all-time favourite comfort food) and Paella (inspired by his travels).

One of the dishes which impressed me most was his Ceviche, a traditional South American dish made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juice and seasoned with onion, salt, cilantro and peepper. But instead of using lemon or lime to “cook” the fish, he uses juice from the Japanese Yuzu fruit. A small twist, but a whole lot of differences. The flavours were sharp, intense, yet the aroma from the citrus fruit was refreshing and perfect for a day under the Maldivian sun. Leaves the tongue tingling for more after. As a treat, the chef is kind enough to share his recipe with us, so you can create this in your kitchen too.

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Now, close your eyes and imagine savouring this dish with your legs dangling off the edge of a pier overlooking the crystal clear waters. Bliss.


(makes 4 appetiser portions)

Ingredients needed:
3/4 pound of very fresh white fleshed ocean fish, such as white snapper
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup yuzu juice
1 1/2 tablespoons (about 2) julienne red chili peppers 
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup small diced avocado
1 tablespoon julienne onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Lime wedges
Cut the fish into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a glass dish with the lime & yuzu juice. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours, stirring occasionally. Drain the fish and add the peppers, onion, cilantro, olive oil, and salt. Fold gently to mix. Serve with some sliced cucumbers, garnish with lime wedges.


Note: Our visit to the Maldives is courtesy of wonderful people at W Retreat & Spa, Maldives. For more stories from the Maldives Monday series:

#2: W-W-WOW, W Retreat & Spa: Whatever/Whenever 

#1: W App for iPhone: A New Kind of Escapism

22 Responses to Chef’s Recipe: Yuzu Ceviche by Chef Mauro Gomez of W Retreat & Spa Maldives
  1. Life for Beginners | Kenny Mah
    October 24, 2011 | 12:37 pm

    The Cleaverman indeed. Clever one, that. ;)

    Btw, are we even able to get yuzu fruits in Malaysia? I enjoyed many yuzu-flavoured/-infused dishes when in Japan but never thought of looking for some till I read this post, really.

    • A Lil' Fat Monkey
      October 24, 2011 | 1:17 pm

      Well in the worse scenario, I’m sure you can get the juice from specialist supermarket. Try Big’s new grocer lah. Could possibly stock it up. When all fails, you can always count on the tiny limau kasturi

      • Life for Beginners | Kenny Mah
        October 24, 2011 | 8:15 pm

        Our local limau kasturi’s fine… but it ain’t no yuzu, that’s for sure. :(

        • A Lil' Fat Monkey
          October 24, 2011 | 8:50 pm

          Beggars can’t be choosers. Why didn’t you bring some back? You only have yourself to blame now.

          • Life for Beginners | Kenny Mah
            October 26, 2011 | 12:37 pm

            Eh, now AirAsia got Japan airfare sales. You go Jepun and bawak some balik lah. Then we can try making this recipe together-gether. :P

  2. lotsofcravings
    October 24, 2011 | 12:55 pm

    thats just evil..made it worst when i found out the price of a 1 nite stay at this place!

    • A Lil' Fat Monkey
      October 24, 2011 | 1:15 pm

      Well, yea. I’ll be weeping blues when i attempt to make this dish too. Lol

  3. Sean
    October 24, 2011 | 2:06 pm

    oooo, maybe you could try to work out some future holiday travel series like Tunisian Tuesdays, Wales Wednesday, Turkish Thursdays, French Fridays, Seychelles Saturdays, and ermmmmm, Singapore Sundays? but looking forward to the remainder of Maldives Monday for now :D

    • A Lil' Fat Monkey
      October 24, 2011 | 3:31 pm

      Actually, that sounds like a good idea. However, looking the state of my bank account (which is as depressing as the Greek’s), I think I could do a series of Terung Tuesdays, Warung Wednesday, Thosai Thursday, French Fries Friday, Sooka Saturday and Sure Tak Mau Kerja Sunday.


  4. ciki
    October 24, 2011 | 2:27 pm

    oo lala! I remember how delectable Chef Mauro’s cooking was.. I’m glad you have the recipe.. so u can cook for me soon.. just like how he did! hehe

    • A Lil' Fat Monkey
      October 24, 2011 | 3:28 pm

      Actually not much cooking involved. It’s almost a salad come to think of it.

      You get the Yuzu and Sake, and I’ll make you some Maldives Yue Sang. Hehehe

  5. iamthewitch
    October 24, 2011 | 5:24 pm

    Nicely written! The pictures of food with the sea and sea villas as the backdrop are amazing! Definitely added some presentation points to the dish :)

    • A Lil' Fat Monkey
      October 24, 2011 | 5:49 pm

      Haha, but the dishes are gorgeous by themselves without the sea or the villas. Those were just props. :)

  6. Juliana Removal
    October 24, 2011 | 8:40 pm

    I don’t know if you made my Monday turquoise but you most definitely made me hungry with the pictures of all this delicious dishes!

    • A Lil' Fat Monkey
      October 24, 2011 | 8:48 pm

      Hi, thanks for dropping by and I hope hungry’s a good feeling eh?

  7. Camemberu
    October 25, 2011 | 1:25 am

    Wah you got to stay at the W!! So yummy the food! The Cleaverman can! And now, so can we! Thanks for the recipe.

    • A Lil' Fat Monkey
      October 25, 2011 | 12:14 pm

      We’re extremely lucky and honoured to have the chance to experience the place. Do give the recipe a go and tell me how it goes!

  8. unkaleong
    October 25, 2011 | 11:14 am

    I’m still green with envy! The cerviche itself looks easy enough to make ;) May give it a go soon.

    I so wanna be a beach bum. I wanna retire by the beach ;)

    • A Lil' Fat Monkey
      October 25, 2011 | 12:12 pm

      Yea. Does sound easy doesn’t it? Try it. Make bigger portions so you can feed us too.

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