No Heat Required: Summer Ceviche

26 Jul

Does any dish embody refreshing, tropical, and summer-friendly much more than ceviche? If you’re a follower of Bravo’s Top Chef (and what self-respecting foodie/TV-addict isn’t?), you know how trendy ceviche has become of late.  Just try and make it through a Quickfire challenge without some variation on the simple citrus-marinated raw seafood dish.

Despite its simplicity (no stove required – a knife and a pair of hands will do), I had never attempted a ceviche at home until this week.  Color me a convert after my rookie effort.  While I chose shrimp and tuna as my frutti de mare, just about anything that calls the sea home will do (calamari, octopus, clams, scallops to name a few).  Toss with any vegetation you might also put in a salsa (tomato, onion, hot peppers, cilantro, corn, jicama, tomatillo, avocado) and douse with plenty of fresh citrus juice (lemon and lime are traditional, orange and grapefruit will obviously add some nice sweetness).

That’s it.  No cooking necessary.  Thanks to the extreme acidity of the citrus, the seafood takes on a “cooked” texture and appearance as its proteins are denatured similarly to when they are cooked with heat.  Make no mistake, however – the seafood will, in fact, remain “raw”, so you want to obtain your protein fresh from a trusted source.

A recent late-night trip to the grocery netted me a wealth of summertime fruit, namely watermelon and pineapple (other tropical fruits like mango or papaya would be easy substitutions).  Both seemed like fun and utterly appropriate additions that would bring a touch of seasonal character and a welcomed sweetness to the dish.

Summer Ceviche

Ingredient Rollcall:

  • Raw shrimp, peeled
  • Raw tuna steak, cut to 1/2 inch cube
  • Roma tomato, small dice
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Poblano pepper, thinly sliced
  • Watermelon, small dice
  • Pineapple, small dice
  • Fresh squeezed lime, lemon, orange juice
  • Fresh cilantro and mint, minced
  • Shot of tequila (optional)
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt to taste

How I did it:

  1. Place shrimp and tuna in a bowl and and enough of the citrus juice to cover.  Add a pinch of salt, stir, and place in fridge, covered, for 15 minutes or so.
  2. Seafood should be taking on a whitish, cooked appearance.
  3. Uncover and add tomato, onion, poblano, cilantro, mint, tequila and olive oil.  Re-cover and place back in fridge for another 15-30 minutes.
  4. To serve, place some of the diced watermelon and pineapple in the bottom of small bowls.  Top with the marinated seafood and vegetables and a few teaspoons of the marinade.
  5. Save a shot of the remaining marinade for the morning after.  Referred to as leche de tigre (‘tiger’s milk’) by Peruvians and Ecuadorians, this intensely flavorful liquid is rumored to be the best hangover cure around.  You were enjoying this ceviche with a delicious beverage or three, weren’t you?
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