I have always loved the fresh flavours of ceviche. Ceviche is a technique that “cooks” protein with acid. I first had this dish sometime ago on Shell Island off Turks and Caicos. Our family was on vacation and we went conch diving. Conch feed in waters, ten to twelve feet deep, with a grassy bottom. We dove with masks and snorkels. After we collected a number of beautiful conchs, the boat headed to Shell Island, a tiny island made completely of shell. Here our tour guide prepared a conch ceviche on the beach. He cleaned the conch, cut it into bite sized pieces and “cooked” it with lime juice and hot pepper sauce. A little jalapeno, onion and some salt, and voila! Ceviche! So fresh and so delicious. Our guide also saved the shells for us to take home (they provide an export form and everything). However, don’t say you were not warned: after a flight home they will smell absolutely putrid and you will not be able to get rid of them fast enough. Or the smell in your suitcase. Yes you can boil them as advised, but then your house will smell putrid.
I have since had a variety of ceviches in fine restaurants and in cozy joints. This winter while in Miami Beach, we had a late night snack of shrimp ceviche that was simple, fresh and full of the flavours of the ocean and summer. It has had me craving it ever since, so I perused the web looking for a recipe. The variation in how to make ceviche is astounding with regards to the “cooking” aspect of the dish. I found directions for marinating the fish in acid from 15 minutes to five hours. So without a real guide, I am winging this on my own with my own experience eating ceviche, watching it being prepared and my knowledge of how the process works. Here’s to not killing Rob at dinner tonight!
(It is important in a dish such as this to use the freshest and best tasting ingredients)
Serves 4 (or appetizer for 6)
1/2 pound Gulf Shrimp*
1/2 pound tilapia or red snapper fillet, large dice
1 large jalapeno, finely diced
1 avocado, diced
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 small Lebanese cucumbers, or 1 small garden cuke, peeled, seeded and diced
1/3 cup cilantro
1 tbsp. hot sauce
1/2 tsp Sugar
1. Boil water in a medium pot. Blanche shrimp for 2 minutes and immediately remove to a prepared ice bath to stop cooking. Peel, clean and chop into bite sized pieces. Cover with the juice of three fresh squeezed limes and chill in refrigerator for 2 hours.
2. Toss jalapeno, tomato, cucumber and onion together in a large bowl.
3. Mix together dressing ingredients
4. 1/2 hour before serving, toss tilapia pieces in the juice of three limes.
5. Just before serving, add avocado and cilantro to the bowl with the jalapeno, tomato, cuke mixture. Add dressing and toss to coat. Salt to taste.
6. Drain fish well and add to the vegetables. Toss and mix well.
7. Serve in dishes or martini glasses with tortilla chips.
*I like Gulf Shrimp because, in my experience, they taste better, seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is currently the most regulated and inspected in the world, and it supports an industry hard hit.
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