Quote of the week

If we were not intended to eat extraordinary food, we would not have been given such extraordinary senses of taste and smell.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ceviche...the warm weather treat.

One of my favorite things about living in the "Little Mexico" portion of Oakland was a small, outdoor dining, sort of hole-in-the-wall looking restaurant called Mariscos La Costa on International and 36th. For me, the number one sign of a good ethnic restaurant is the clientele are predominantly the ethnicity of the restaurant. Such is the case with La Costa. Their food is fantastic overall, but their ceviche....oh their ceviche is fantastic! So much so that both of my daughter's would attack me when I walked in the door with ceviche in my hand. We tried many other ceviche in the area (the Fruitvale are is a phenomenal food find), but none came close to La Costa.

So when we moved back to the midwest, my daughter simply could not live without ceviche. Whenever I asked her what she wanted to eat, she would always say CEVICHE! She went on a trip to Costa Rica and she was so ecxtied to eat ceviche down there. I had to start making it at home. Well, I have played around with it, and often will use what looks good and fresh and wild caught in the fish department. I don't really have a 'recipe', but more of a list of things I use. The beauty of ceviche is you can play around with it, with the type of fish or shrimp you use, the level of heat. So here is my lastest ceviche-

1 lb wild caught bay shrimp ( you can use larger shrimp, I prefer bite sized portions, so if using larger shrimp I suggest cutting into chunks)
1/2 wild caught tilapia (again, use whatever mild white fish you like. In the Yucatan, fisherman made us beracuda ceviche straight off the boat. Amazing!)
2 good sized ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 large English cucumber(seedless), peeled and chopped
3/4 of a large red oinion, chopped
2 good sized jalapeno, seeded and diced (seeds and white membrane carry the heat, so add accordingly)
1 bunch cilantro, rinsed, dried and rough chop
juice of limes and a bit of lemon to cover
zest of 1 good sized lime
salt to taste

Traditional ceviche cooks the fish via the acid in the lemon and lime juice. I find the best flavors occur when this method is used. However, I know many people who get freaked out by this. So, if you feel more comfortable, you can blanch your seafood for 1-2 minutes in boiling water and then immediately rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Pre-cooked fish becomes rubbery, in my opinion, so a quick flash of heat and straight into an ice bath, if you choose this method.

This recipe is done the traditional way, so if you pre-cook your seafood, you can combine all ingredients straight away and simply season with salt and let the flavors meld together.

Traditionally prepared shrimp and tilapia:

In a non-reactive bowl (I use a large glass bowl), combine the raw shrimp (deveined) and tilapia and start squeezing lime juice. It's hard to say how much or how many, as it greatly depends on the size and juiciness of the limes and lemons, so I can only say you want to use roughly 3/4 lime juice and 1/4 lemon. 

**tip** to get the most juice out of your lemons and limes, have them at room temperature. Prior to squeezing, roll the fruit under your hand, applying a bit of pressure, to release the juices. Alternatively, you can place the fruit in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.

Once the seafood is cover to the top with lime/lemon juice, add jalapenos, zest of one lime and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Stir well and then pat down seafood to ensure all flesh is covered. Wrap tightly and place in the refrigerator for approximately four hours.

When seafood is opaque, remove from the fridge and add in the rest of the ingredients and sitr well. taste and adjust seasoning. Rewrap and refrigerate for an additional hour at least. Ceviche is better the next day, after all flavors marry. 
Taste before serving and make final adjustments to your liking.

Classically, ceviche is served with tostadas, a wedge of lime and sliced avocados. We often serve it with thick, crispy tortilla chips and a big bottle of Tapatio sauce.

As you can see, there is lots of play in this recipe. So discover your inner Latin spirit and create your own fabulos ceviche recipe!

Life's a Feast