I would like to extend a personal “Thank you very much” to that first Peruvian fisherman who squeezed some lime over his fresh catch and popped it down the hatch. Ceviche is one of my favorite dishes and not just because it is so fresh and flavorful and absolutely divine on a hot day. It gets the gold star because it is so versatile. You could have ceviche every day for a month and never repeat a combination of ingredients. Yesterday, being the first day of Summer and a particularly hot and humid day here in Brooklyn, I was inspired to make my Summers first batch!
Ceviche was born in either Peru and Ecuador. Let them fight it out. Peru does embrace it as their national dish so Ecuador either needs to trump that play or get out of ceviche kitchen. Either way, I am just damn pleased it came to be. Such a simple concept right…fish cooked in lime juice. Alton Brown would have a lot more to say on this process and would reprimand me for glossing over the chemical cooking going on here, but that is why he has a TV show and I just blog about things I like to eat. “Cooking with Acid” does sound sort of cool as a title for your show on ceviche, Alton – if you happen to be reading. I digress.
Mexican and Latin American ceviche is based on the same ingredients and then differentiates from village to village with a local twist. Classic ceviche is fish or shrimp with lime or lemon juice, chilis or chili powder, tomato and onion. Sometimes avocado, tropical fruits, other types of seafood and other spices make their way into the recipe. However, given my love of the flavors of SE Asia, I decided to make my Summers First Ceviche with a taste of both. Peru meets Phuket. Latin meets Laos. Mexico meets …ok ok I will stop.
I went to the fish market first thing yesterday morning, bought up the sexiest seafood finds, hit the greengrocer for some accessories and called my friend B. You can’t expect me to eat this alone without a whole heap of Catholic guilt. I needed an accomplice. Didn’t take much convincing to say the least. Dinner was on!
I was thinking today, in the middle of a long and winding daydream at my desk, how fun it would be to host a Ceviche Soiree where everyone brings a different version of the dish, sips on lemongrass mojitos (won the vote over white wine in a recent poll) and heatedly yet affectionately discusses the merits of each. Currently accepting all applications for participants!
Summer’s First Ceviche
1/2 lb. Bay Scallops
1/2 lb. Small Shrimp, shelled, butterflied, cleaned
1//2 lb. White Fish (Cod, Tilapia)
1 Thai Red Chili
1 Avocado, cubed
1 Cup Red Onion, Diced
1 Tbsp. Garlic, Fine Chopped
1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger, Fine Chopped
1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemongrass, Fine Chopped
6 Limes, squeezed
1 Mango, Cubed
3 Tbsp. Coconut Milk
1/2 Cup Fresh Flat Leaf Italian Parsley (chopped)
1 Sweet Potato
1 Cup Coconut Oil
Sea Salt & Fresh Pepper
Lightly rinse and pat dry all the seafood. It goes without saying that the fish should be sushi grade fresh fresh fresh. In a mixing bowl add the ginger, garlic, lemongrass and chilis. Add the seafood and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil to coat fish. Add the fresh lime juice. Spread the seafood in a shallow baking dish so that the seafood is mostly immersed in the juice. Refrigerate for at least 4 hrs., 6 is better and 8 is best.
After 4 or 5 hrs, or an hour before serving, drain off the lemon juice and set aside. Add the red onion, avocado, mango & coconut milk to the fish. Add back about 1/2 cup of the lime juice and refrigerate the rest. Back in the fridge to meld all those flavors for at least an hour.
Meanwhile peel the sweet potato. Using a knife or mandolin slice it into long (full size of potato) paper-thin slices. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan over high heat. When it sizzles, add the slices to the oil. Do not overcrowd the pan. 4-5 slices at a time depending frying pan size. Have a tray ready with paper towel. Flip the sweet potato chips once and when they go slightly brown place on tray. Before they cool sprinkle with a small amount of sea salt. Set aside.
Serve the ceviche in small bowls, margarita glasses, bamboo bowls or whatever South of the Border of South Asia fun dish you have. Garnish with a bit of fresh parsley and a lime wedge. Place one sweet potato chip into the edge of the bowl. Dig In!
I like to have a bit of Asian chili sauce or Tabasco on the side for those who want their ceviche Caliente! This recipe is rather mild. Go big with the chilis if you dare.
Lemongrass Mojitos are just the thing to wash down this amazing dish. Recipe is in my book which I hope is on your shelf, wink wink.
What is your favorite ceviche combination or experience! Where have you had the best ceviche?