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February, 2013

Cabo-Style Ceviche
By Heidi Allison


This modern-style ceviche, which first debuted on the culinary stage during the 1970’s with Peruvian chef Dario Matsufuji, uses practically no marinating time at all—just the amount of time needed to mix all the ingredients, plate and carry to the table.

CucumbersThis recipe is a new twist on the ancient Peruvian dish, ‘ceviche” – a citrus-marinated fish, clam, mussel, octopus, shrimp and vegetable mixture often served as an appetizer. The ultimate “bar food”, ceviche is also offered at luxe, five-star beachfront resorts and surfer dives alike, along the coast of Cabo (Baja, Mexico). This season, a new regional variation appeared on the ceviche bar menu at celebrity hotspot, Las Ventanas, which incorporates carrots and coconut milk, creating a new flavor profile that is slightly sweet and creamy, yet refreshingly bright in its flavor—a dish so good I came back to it again and again.

But, it was not only the fresh fish (caught that morning), organic vegetables, creamy coconut milk or sweet carrots that grabbed my attention with this simple, yet stellar new dish – it was also its texture. This recipe has a nice juxtaposition of crunchy (but not too raw) carrots, cool cucumber and perfectly marinated fish—“cooked” on the outside yet soft and silky on the inside. (BTW: Just as sublime as any perfectly prepared, medium-rare, dry-aged ribeye!) The “secret” of this dish is twofold: the way the fish is cut, and the amount of time the fish is marinated in the lime juice. Traditionally, the fish was left to marinate for 3 hours, which overly denatured the proteins and toughened the meat. However, this modern-style ceviche, which first debuted on the culinary stage during the 1970’s with Peruvian chef Dario Matsufuji, uses practically no marinating time at all—just the amount of time needed to mix all the ingredients, plate and carry to the table. Another technique that creates this unique, melt-in-your-mouth “cooked” texture is how you prep the fish. The fish should always be cut with the grain, and the pieces should be no larger that ¼-inch cubes. The ideal marinating time is 10 minutes: fish left to “cook” in the lime juice for less than 10 minutes will be too “raw” and slippery in texture, while anything past 15 minutes will produce fish that is tough and chalky. It’s also crucial to marinate the fish separately from the vegetables. And, do not skip the step of marinating the veggies, this step not only softens and rounds out the raw quality of the carrots, but also acts to season the carrots and cukes. Great go-to-dish for introducing newbies to ceviche.

Cabo-Style Ceviche
Serves: 8 as an appetizer; 4 as a first course
Cabo-Style Ceviche

Ingredients:

Ceviche:
21 ounces Firm-Fleshed, White Fish (Mexican Sea Bass, Snapper, Parrot Fish), cut into ¼ inch dice
3 Persian Cucumber, peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice (about 2/3 cup)
1 large Carrot, peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice (about 2/3 cup)
1 Jalapeño Chili, seeded and cut into small dice
6 ounces Freshly-Squeezed Lime Juice (I prefer Key Lime, or Persian Lime mixed with Key Lime)
4 ounces Coconut Milk
¼ large Red Onion, cut into ¼ inch dice and soaked in water for 10 minutes; then drained
Kosher Salt and Pepper
1 Avocado, seeded and diced
1 bunch Cilantro, leaves only, chopped (about 5 Tablespoons)

Corn Tortilla Chips:
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 Corn Tortillas, cut into quarters

Preparation:
Place oil in a 10-inch skillet and heat on medium heat until hot. Place tortillas in oil and fry until crisp and golden brown. Remove to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with Kosher salt while still hot.

Set aside until ready to use.

Ceviche Preparation:
Cut the fish with the grain into ¼-inch cubes and place in a stainless bowl that is sitting in a larger bowl filled with ice. Pour 3 ounces of lime juice over cubed fish and toss. Let marinate for 10 minutes only.

While the fish is marinating, place cucumbers and carrots in a bowl, and pour 3 ounces lime juice over vegetables. Toss to combine, and then set aside. Marinate for 10 minutes.

Remove fish from lime juice with a slotted spoon and add to marinated vegetables and toss. Add chiles, avocado, coconut milk, and toss again to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle ceviche into serving dish and top with cilantro.

Serve immediately with hot, fresh corn tortilla chips.

Authors Notes:
Do not sub with oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon or trout. Best bets are halibut, flounder, grouper or ono. Make sure the fish is of the freshest quality for this dish.