Friday, April 20, 2012
It's getting quite warm around these parts. Instead of April showers, there is a sort of a drought, and the temperature resembles that of June. In this weather, cold dishes that don't require any cooking always seem like a good idea to me, so I decided to make a ceviche.
If you're a ceviche beginner like me, don't be scared off by the name. The dish itself can be extremely easy. Ceviche (pronounced seh-VEE-cheh) is a cold dish usually made with raw fish. Although it is likely to have originated in Peru, today it is prevalent across most of South and Central America. The dish varies by region, with each having its own way of making it. One common thread is how the fish is prepared. Since it is usually served raw, the fish is first heavily marinated in lime or lemon juice and salt (in addition to other seasonings which are sometimes used, including chilis). In a sense, it is like a quick pickling process. But unless it is extremely fresh, I am usually skeptical about serving raw fish, so to make this recipe even simpler, I used cooked shrimp.
Ceviche is served in Mexico along the beaches, with ingredients like jalapeño, onion, and cilantro tossed together with lime juice and shrimp or fish. Since the dish is so variable, there is no one correct way of making it, so feel free to use the recipe below as a loose guide to suit your own palate.
Because I like to go all out, I served it on top of a coarsely mashed avocado with a cilantro-based sauce. To make the arrangement in the photo (I've had tuna tartare served in a similar way at a sushi restaurant, which inspired this), you can use a round cookie cutter or a metal tube of some sort, like a can with top and bottom removed.
Place the cookie cutter in the center of the plate and fill it with mashed avocado. Lift the cookie cutter slightly, using it to hold the shape as you spoon the shrimp mixture on top of the avocado. Once everything is in place, lift and remove the metal piece.
This appetizer is absolutely perfect on a warm night: cold, citrusy, tangy, chewy, creamy, with an added bite of a hot pepper. I made it about an hour before Tony came home from work, so I refrigerated it after photographing it. Serving it chilled made it extra refreshing, kind of like a strange seafood and avocado ice cream.
If you prefer a cold dinner instead, double the recipe and serve it with rice or taco shells and make it a meal.
Mexican Ceviche with Shrimp
You will need:
1/2 cup medium shrimp, cooked, peeled, deveined and finely chopped
4 tbsp lime juice, divided
1/2 roma or plum tomato, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeño pepper, cored, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and coarsely mashed
Salt, to taste
1. In a small bowl, combine finely chopped shrimp and 2 tbsp lime juice. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Marinate, covered and refrigerated, for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
2. Combine the marinated shrimp with chopped tomato, jalapeño, shallot and cilantro. Add 1 tbsp lime juice and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt.
3. In a separate bowl, combine avocado and 1 tbsp lime juice. Divide the avocado between two appetizer plates and serve topped with the shrimp mixture, with cilantro sauce (recipe below).
You will need
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leave
2 tbsp lime juice, or to taste
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a food processor combine all of the ingredients and process to a consistency of a purée. Serve on the side with ceviche or by itself with tortilla chips.