Summer might be just about over, but last night in my kitchen it certainly didn’t seem like it. This had nothing to do with the weather, which was a bit cool, and everything to do with the refreshing, lively flavors in a bowl of colorful ceviche.
There is no better way to highlight the flavor of seafood, and to remember the feeling of summer, than with this chilled dish. To make ceviche, raw seafood is “cooked” in a lemon-lime marinade and tossed with spicy jalapeno, cooling avocado and the flavorful crunch of red pepper and red onion. Some versions add tomato or other vegetables and some play around with citrus marinades made from grapefruit or oranges, but the result is essentially the same: incredibly fresh seafood with a slightly tart and totally addictive flavor.
The seafood in ceviche is “cooked” by the citric acid in lemon and lime juice, which firms up protein just like heat from a grill or oven does. The texture of the fish is very similar to fish that has been cooked and the flavor is more delicate and rarely fishy. The citric acid doesn’t kill bacteria like cooking with heat does, but if you’re buying seafood from a trusted purveyor with fresh fish, this isn’t a worry. However, if you can’t get past the idea of uncooked fish, don’t write ceviche off completely – you can always boil all of the seafood briefly so it’s pretty much cooked, then just marinate it in the citrus juice for flavor. In fact, this is recommended for shrimp; not because of bacteria but because it helps prevent the texture of the shrimp from getting too chewy and tough.
Use ocean fish, not lake fish, which tend to turn mushy when marinated in citrus. The most sustainable and flavorful seafood choices for ceviche are Ahi tuna from the U.S. Atlantic, salmon (Coho, Sockeye or King), Yellowtail snapper, Pacific halibut, bay scallops, spot prawns or cocktail shrimp. This recipe uses a combination of halibut, snapper and shrimp, but use whatever seafood combination sounds best to you.
1/3 pound Pacific halibut
1/3 pound Yellowtail snapper
1/3 pound cocktail shrimp
1/2 cup lime juice (about 4-5 limes)
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons)
1 avocado, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (remember, the seeds and inner membrane are the spiciest parts. Discard them if you don’t like food too spicy)
salt to taste
Cut the fish into 1/2-inch squares, removing all skin and bones. Lightly salt the fish. Bring a few cups of lightly salted water to boil. Add peeled and cleaned shrimp for 1 minute. Immediately put shrimp in a bowl of ice and water to chill. Cut the cooled shrimp into 1/2 inch pieces (it will still be fairly raw inside). Combine fish and shrimp with lime and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for two hours.
When you cut into a piece of the fish or shrimp, it should be “cooked” through, meaning the shrimp will be light pink and the fish will be white, not grayish or translucent. However, if you prefer more of a raw texture (as some sushi lovers do) you might want to marinate the seafood for less than two hours.
When the seafood had finished marinating, drain and discard the lime and lemon juice. Combine the seafood with the rest of the ingredients. Add salt to taste.