Read an Excerpt
the great CEVICHE BOOK
By DOUGLAS RODRIGUEZ with Laura Zimmerman
TEN SPEED PRESSCopyright © 2003 Douglas Rodriguez
All right reserved.
You'll find my most straightforward ceviches contained in this chapter. It begins with two simple ceviches, one using sea bass, the other using grouper (pages 24 and 28), which stick primarily to the basic formula of citrus, salt, onions, herbs, and chiles. If you're preparing your first ceviche, start with these. Tiraditos typically include only one type of seafood and represent a rather minimalist approach to ceviche; a pure style where the main prize is the flavor of the fish itself rather than any marinade or garnish ingredients.
Roughly translated, tira means "throw" and ditos means "little bites," or "thrown-together little bites." This is an apt description of these simple, tossed preparations, of any fish or seafood where the components of a classic ceviche-citrus, onion, and herbs-are used only to enhance the flavor of the fish rather than to add any strong characteristics of their own. The exciting part is that the following simple recipes will work with just about any seafood, so feel free to interchange bass with blue fish, salmon with scallops, or mackerel with merluza to match your mood.
During my travels through South America, I have spoken to many individuals who take pride in making ceviches,from home cooks along the Ecuadorian coast to the confident ceviche specialists that work magic at nothing more than roadside carts in Peruvian fishing villages. One especially inspirational friend of mine, Humberto Sato at Costanera 700, or "Coastal Restaurant 700," in Lima, Peru, embraces what I consider a true tiradito philosophy. He is a ceviche expert whose attention to quality ingredients approaches the religious. He is meticulous about choosing his suppliers, preaching that he only buys from certain fishermen whose practices he knows down to the force with which they pull a day's catch out of the water. As Humberto explains, if a fisherman pulls his catch out of the water too quickly, the fish may become stunned, making the flesh too tough for good ceviche.
Anyone I know who's traveling through Peru, I send to Humberto's restaurant. They might question my advice upon first approaching the factory-like building in Lima's rough San Miguel neighborhood. But as the elite, professional crowd there will attest, searching out Humberto's waterfront hideaway will result in a unforgettable afternoon meal.
When I visit Costanera 700, I love to listen to Humberto speak of his ceviche philosophies. He is of Japanese decent, but has lived in Lima for most of his life and considers himself Peruvian. An Eastern sense of discipline and respect for life are certainly a tremendous part of the ceviche tradition that Humberto has helped create, a tradition that countless others have tried to replicate and follow.
Many Americans are unfamiliar with the fact that Peru, and many other Latin American countries, have large Asian populations. So it seems even more logical to draw comparisons between the different forms of sushi and sashimi and the different forms of ceviches. Of course they are both raw-fish preparations. But philosophically, sashimi, or raw fish served virtually unadorned, is the Japanese counterpart of tiraditos. Tiradito ingredients are also often cut into thin slices, similar to sashimi, rather than chopped as in most of the mixtos ceviche recipes.
Walking along the countless docks, piers, and beaches of Central and South America provides unstoppable motivation for creating ceviche. Seeing the incredibly fresh fish, brought virtually from water to table, is what really motivates me to make a simple tiradito ceviche. But you don't have to travel to far-off lands for inspiration. As Humberto suggests, know your supplier; one whom you can trust and who will answer your questions about procurement, freshness, and storage. Of course, as the sixty recipes in this book attest, there are unlimited creative options for ceviche. But if you start with an exquisite piece of fish, these tiraditos are as good as it gets.
FOUR-CITRUS SEA SCALLOPS with CUCUMBER
Sea scallops, or conchitas, are slightly smaller than diver scallops. Strive to get the dry variety, or ones free of any water-collecting preservatives. I prefer to cook with scallops in their shells. Ideally, that's what you're looking for to prepare this recipe, but scallops out of their shell will work just fine. Conchitas cook quickly, so I've added four citrus juices to this dish; the combination has a lower acidity than lime alone and will actually slow down the "cooking" process. The Valencia orange and grapefruit also add a pleasant sweetness.
1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops Juice of 6 limes 1 tablespoon sea salt 1 pink grapefruit Juice of 1 pink grapefruit Juice of 1 Valencia orange Juice of 5 lemons 1 cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced into half-moons 3 green onions, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
Set the scallops in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for about 1 hour, until very firm, but not frozen solid.
Once frozen, remove the scallops from the freezer and slice crosswise into very thin rounds. In a nonreactive bowl, toss the sliced scallops in the lime juice and salt. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Peel the grapefruit by slicing off the top and bottom, setting it upright on a flat surface, and using a sharp knife to cut away the peel, white pith, and exterior membrane. Cut from top to bottom, following the curve of the fruit; don't cut too deeply into the flesh of the grapefruit. Holding the grapefruit in one hand, run a knife along one of the interior membranes toward the center of the fruit. Do this again along the neighboring membrane to remove each grapefruit section. Repeat until all sections are removed. Roughly chop the grapefruit sections and reserve.
Before serving, drain the scallops, discarding the lime juice. In a clean nonreactive bowl, blend the grapefruit, orange, and lemon juices and gently fold in the reserved grapefruit sections, the remaining ingredients, and the scallops.
Yield: 6 servings
CHILEAN SEA BASS with LEMON OIL
If you're a ceviche novice, this recipe is a very simple starting point. But the simple list of ingredients makes the flavor of the sea bass particularly important, so make sure to get a beautiful piece of fish. The lemon oil is a nice change from typical citrus juice because it adds a bit of richness to the fish's already silky texture. And if you make sure to cut the sea bass thinly, the end result is buttery and subtle.
1 1/2 pounds Chilean sea bass fillet
Juice of 2 lemons 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 1 tablespoon salt 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons 3 tablespoons lemon oil (page 146)
Set the sea bass on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for 1 to 2 hours, until very firm, but not frozen solid.
Once frozen, remove the sea bass from the freezer and, using a sharp knife, slice it crosswise very thin. Transfer to a nonreactive bowl and gently toss it with the marinade ingredients. Serve immediately.
Yield: 6 servings
HALIBUT with LEMON and CORIANDER OIL
It's no surprise that halibut works well in ceviche. It actually takes well to virtually any cooking method you can think of: roasting, baking, grilling, frying, you name it. It is for this reason that halibut is my single, favorite Northeastern fish. I just love its meaty, lean texture and versatility. West Coast halibut is also available (usually at a cheaper price), but it's inferior to an East Coast catch. I have to admit that the texture of halibut in ceviche is a bit on the chewy side, but it's still very worth using. In this recipe the slight crunch from the crushed coriander seeds (seeds of the cilantro plant) and their oil lend complementary flavor and just the right amount of pleasing texture. If I had to eat one fish for the rest of my life, it would be halibut.
1 1/2 pounds skinless halibut fillet, cut crosswise into 3 pieces 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons coriander seeds 1 tablespoon salt 3 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled jalapeños (page 142) 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro 4 green onions, thinly sliced 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
Set the halibut on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for about 2 hours, until very firm, but not frozen solid.
Once frozen, remove the halibut from the freezer and slice it crosswise very thin. In a nonreactive bowl, combine the sliced halibut, lime juice, and 1 tablespoon salt. Cover and refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours.
To make the coriander oil, toast the coriander seeds a dry sauté pan over high heat until they begin to about 4 minutes. Crush the seeds and 1 tablespoon salt with a mortar and pestle. In o small bowl, blend the crushed seeds with the oil and let rest at room temperature.
Before serving, gently toss the halibut and lime juice with the marinade ingredients and drizzle with the coriander oil.
Yield: 6 servings
GROUPER with OPAL BASIL
Grouper is a Florida fish so, because of the years I spent in Miami, I naturally think of it when making ceviche. The practice of freezing a fish to allow for easy, thin slicing is particularly important with grouper since it can be very chewy when eaten raw. If you can find it, use black or red grouper, which are the least tough and the most flavorful varieties.
1 1/2 pounds grouper fillet, skin removed 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 1 tablespoon salt
Juice of 2 lemons 3 shots Tabasco sauce or to taste 1/4 cup basil oil (page 151) 2 jalopeños, split lengthwise, seeded, and finely diced 10 opal basil or other fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade 1 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
Set the grouper on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 2 hours.
Once frozen, remove the grouper from the freezer and, using a sharp knife, slice it very thin. In a nonreactive bowl, toss the sliced grouper in the lime juice and salt. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Before serving, add the marinade ingredients to the grouper and lime juice and gently toss.
Yield: 6 servings
SALMON with MUSTARD OIL and SCALLIONS
Salmon is an excellent fish prepared almost any way: cured, smoked, cooked, or raw. Because of this, it is widely popular. If you are hesitant to make a ceviche with some of the more adventurous fish and seafood suggested in this book, this may be a good first ceviche to prepare. The following recipe, my partner Tom Nally's favorite, is simple yet impressive for both ceviche experts and novices.
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 2 tablespoons mustard oil (page 153) 3 jalapeños, seeds and membranes removed, finely diced 2 tablespoons chiffonade of mint leaves 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro 4 green onions, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1/4-inch dice 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
In a nonreactive bowl, blend all the marinade ingredients. Add the salmon and gently toss. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Before serving, garnish with the red onion.
Yield: 6 servings
SWEET and SPICY MACKEREL
Most gastronomes speak disparagingly of mackerel, due to its reputation for having an overly fishy taste and its designation as the most popular canned fish in the world. But canned mackerel preserved in oil is no comparison to its freshly caught state, which offers a rich, buttery flavor and a beautiful, tasty skin that, if cleaned well, will add a nice chewiness to this ceviche. Mackerel's raw flavor is also far superior to its cooked flavor, accounting for its frequent use in sushi and sashimi.
When buying fresh mackerel, make sure it was caught within a day or two, since its quality deteriorates quickly from rapid fat oxidation. If you press your finger into the fish, it feels firm, and no indentation remains, make haste for your kitchen and get ready to change your opinion about mackerel.
1 1/2 pounds mackerel fillet, skin removed (this is optional), and thinly sliced 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon honey 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 1/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice 1 teaspoon aji amarillo paste (page 151) 1 teaspoon panca pepper paste (page 153)
3 green onions, all of the white and half of the green part, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
In a nonreactive bowl, gently toss the sliced mackerel in the 1 cup of lime juice and salt. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. When ready to serve, drain the mackerel, discarding the lime juice. In a clean nonreactive bowl, whisk the marinade ingredients together; add the mackerel and garnish ingredients and gently toss.
Yield: 6 servings
MERLUZA with PICKLED JALAPEÑOS and LEMON OIL
Merluza is the true Chilean sea bass. It is a very lean, white, and clean-flavored fish that is actually more prized for its raw flavor than its cooked flavor. After cooking, merluza's flesh becomes too soft and often falls apart, but in ceviche it holds up beautifully. If you can't find merluza, you can substitute whiting.
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger 2 tablespoons pickled jalapeño chiles (page 142) 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
1 1/2 pounds merluza fillet, skin and bones removed and finely diced
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro 3 tablespoons lemon oil (page 146)
In a nonreactive bowl, blend all the marinade ingredients. Add the merluza and gently toss. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Before serving, garnish with the cilantro and drizzle with the lemon oil.
Excerpted from the great CEVICHE BOOK by DOUGLAS RODRIGUEZ with Laura Zimmerman Copyright © 2003 by Douglas Rodriguez
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.