Ceviche

I started again the summer food series, since the summer is only a few days away and in Florida is practically here. Summer in Florida: humidity, rain, storms, heat. In this weather we always seek a refreshing food, that can make us feel fresh feeling and relaxed. To find a food like that you have to look at the areas of the world where they face the heat on a yearly base. Florida is not one of these places. It is pretty damn cold here over the winter time. But Mexico… it is warmer almost the whole year. And there the people have developed food to sooth the heat and refresh the senses. One of them is the Ceviche. Although the dish is popular all around the area (Panama, Peru, Mexico etc) the origin is very fuzzy and hazy. Same goes to its name and preparation. One hypothesis suggests that ceviche got its name from the Quechua word “siwichi.” However, another hypothesis suggests that the name is a cognate of the Spanish word “escabeche” (marinade), derived from the Arabic term “sikbaj.” Yet another hypothesis suggests that its name comes from the word Cebo, the name given to the corvina fish.Although there are many variations ceviche has a very important element: the acid. In every variation the acid comes from some sort of citrus, lime, lemon, orange etc. The acid is not only for flavor. initially the acid on the surface of the food will eliminate most of the surface bacteria due to the low pH. This will make the consumption of the raw fish much safer. In addition the low pH will start affecting the proteins. It will denature and curdle many of the proteins on the fish. Similar effects can be achieved with heat as well. That is the reason that many people claim that lime is cooking the fish. It is not really. Cooking with the strict definition is done only with heat. But since acid can produce the same effect you can technically refer to the process as cooking. The second function is the disinfection of the fish and the killing of the surface bacteria. Needless to say that since acid can only kill certain bacteria the fish has to be extra fresh and clean. The final but equally to the other two, function is the flavor. That is the reason that citruses are used over vinegar, which is very strong and does not bring the required flavor to the party.

The ingredient structure are very similar to the salsa: Base, Filler and accent. The most important ingredient is the fish (base). It is usually seafood (scallops, octopus, or shellfish) or fish (tuna, salmon tilapia, mahi-mahi) and any sort of seafood that can be used as a fillet. I tend to like shellfish or salmon. The first one since it has a very interesting texture and the second mainly because it is a fattier fish making the dish richer. A small note, salmon is not so typical, but I use it because is fattier and more rich tasting, marring well with the avocado and the onion. The rest of the ingredients (filler) are up to you. Usually vegetables are used but you can use anything you like (cheese, fruits etc). There are however tow basic rules:

  • Keep it simple, not more than 3-4 ingredients)
  • Keep in in a theme. Mexican blend or japanese blend etc.

Finally don ‘t forget an accent, a spice or an herb to tie things together.

For this one I chose mexican blend since it is more to the roots of the ceviche, but by all means use what you like more.
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Base:

  • •Salmon 1lb
  • •5-8 limes

Filler:

  • •3 medium tomatoes
  • •1 red onion
  • •2 semi-ripe avocados
  • •2 jalapenos

Accent:

  • •Dill
  • •Sea salt

The sea salt is not required but it is a nice addition since it is fish that we make. Also if the avocados are ripe the will start falling apart while mixing. So under rip or semi-ripe are preferable.
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Most of the fillets come with the skin still on. To remove it take a narrow blade knife and detach a corner. Then just drag it. It should come in piece.

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Pull it all the way and if you stick somewhere just use your knife to work it.

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Once done cut the fish in strips…

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Which you will further cit in smaller 1/4″x1/4″ strips.

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And then slice to 1/4″ pieces. That will give you 1/4″ inch cubes. The smaller the pieces the more cooked the flesh will be. If you like the texture more in the soft size you can have then in bigger pieces.

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Here is the fish cut in cubs. There might be parts with dark meet, usually towards the middle of the fish, it taste a little strong so I usually remove it, but it is again up to you.

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Cut the limes. For this one I used 5. You can use lemons but I find that lime is more effective in cutting through the fattiness of the salmon.

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Squeeze till you completely cover the fish.

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Add some sea salt (1 tsp). And marinate for 30 mins.

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Almost instantly the flesh will take an opaque haze and will turn whitish… These are the proteins being denatured. The longer you marinate the more it will denature the proteins. It will never reach to the core, however, since the proteins on the surface will prevent the lime from reaching further in.

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Now cut the onion and for that you can view the past posts where it is very well detailed. I am just so tired of shooting the onion slicing.

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Take the avocado and cut lengthwise. The knife will stop against the main pit in the center. Rotate so you cut all around the pit.

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Twist the two parts to separate them.

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With your knife fork the pit and then rotate to remove the pit.

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With a spoon scoop the avocado from the shell. You can keep the  shells to use them as serving bowls.

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Place each half on the cutting board facing down, and slice radially as we did in the past with the onions.

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Then just slice through.

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Don ‘t forget to squeeze more lime over the avocado to prevent it from turning brown.

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This should yield about 2-3 cups of diced avocados.

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Cut the tomatoes in half.

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And with a peri knife remove the seed part.

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You can reserve it for later use, or discard it.

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And dice away…

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By now we have chopped salmon, onion, tomato, avocado.

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Mix the ingredients but use a slotted spoon. We don ‘t want the old lime juice. By know it is too fishy.

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Mix everything. You might need to hold back on certain things. I for instance reduced the onion.

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Now heat time… And again… As before seed and dice the jalapenos finely.

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Add it to the mix

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Chop the dill, (about 1 tsb will be enough) and add it in the mix. Marinate covered for 2-3 hours. And serve…

The serving suggestions are endless: on a plate, in the avocado shell, in a bowl… etc but my favorite is the Martini glass. And although I have been arguing about the oversized martini glasses, the truth is that I love them for this things. Start with a 12 oz martini glass in the freezer.

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At the bottom I have added some nicely dressed salad. Watercress in sesame ginger dressing. Or you can skip it all together.

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Follow that with the ceviche.

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Make a thin slice of lime, and cut a slit at the side.
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Garnish and enjoy. Yumm!

 

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