Spring is just ten days away and that makes me clamor for lighter and brightly flavored fare at meal time. Few things taste more like spring than fresh ceviche. Piquant citrus transforms delicate fish or seafood into a versatile dish suitable for serving as a first course at your next fancy dinner party or paired with an ice cold beer on a casual sunny afternoon.
Combining lime and other citrus juices with very fresh fish creates a chemical reaction
Tips for Ceviche Success
1. Choose to use a firm white fish for ceviche. Salt water fish like halibut and sea bass are excellent choices. Avoid fresh water fish like trout and oily fish like mackerel in ceviche preparations.
2. Let freshness be your guide. Don’t stick with flounder out of loyalty to your favorite fish if the sea bass is looking better at the market.
3. Talk to the folks behind the counter at a reputable fish market before selecting a fish for ceviche and while you are at it ask them to remove the skin, bones and bloodline from the fish before you take it home.
4. Don’t overdo it. When fish spends too much time in an acidic marinade it can become mealy and mushy. Proper ceviche will look opaque on the exterior, but remain slightly translucent in the center.
5. Cut the vegetables and the fish uniformly, but combine the marinated fish with the garnishes just before serving to keep colors vibrant and textures distinct.
Once you have the basics of this simple cooking technique down, confident cooks will begin to appreciate the customizable nature of ceviche. Purists will stick to lime, chilies, cilantro and red onion when creating a spring ceviche; more adventurous folks might choose to toss in a smattering of fresh corn kernels, sweet mango, or verdant mint into the mix.
The most important to remember the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating a peppy plate of ceviche!
Sunny Spring Ceviche Tostadas-makes 6 tostadas
Recently I chose to use halibut in a ceviche and peppered it with all the traditional garnishes, but added cucumber, radishes, grapefruit and fennel seeds to change things up a bit. The resulting dish was springtime fabulous!
For the ceviche:
- 1 Pound Halibut, skinned and bones removed (Substitute for the freshest fish as needed)
- 2 jalapenos, seeded, minced and divided
- 1 small red onion, minced and divided
- Zest of 2 Limes, divided
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- ½ Cup fresh lime juice (8 limes), divided
- ¼ Cup Lemon juice (1 lemon)
- ½ Cup fresh orange juice (2 oranges)
- ¼ Cup fresh grapefruit juice (1 grapefruit)
- 1 English cucumber, diced into ¼” cubes
- 3 radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 Grapefruit peeled and diced
- 3 scallions, snipped
- ¼ Cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted
- 2 teaspoons honey
For the Avocado Crema:
- ¼ Cup minced cilantro
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 avocados, diced
- ¼ Cup Sour Cream
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the Garnish:
- 4-6 blue corn tortillas, fried until crisp or store bought tostadas
- ¼ Cup roasted pepitas
- Cilantro leaves
- Coarse Salt
Place the fish on a clean work surface and cut it into ½” thick cubes and place in a large plastic container. Toss the diced fish with half of the minced jalapeños, half of the minced red onion and half of the lime zest. Gently mix in the salt. Pour ¼ Cup of lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice and grapefruit juice over the fish. Cover the container, place a tightly sealed bag of ice on the fish and place the ceviche into the refrigerator for 30-35 minutes, mixing gently after 15 minutes.
While the ceviche marinates, prepare the avocado crema. Place the cilantro and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the diced avocado and process until smooth. Add the sour cream, lime juice and salt; process until smooth. Transfer the crema to a small bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the mixture, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
After 30-35 minutes the halibut will have taken on a cooked appearance. Drain off the excess citrus juice before folding in the remaining, jalapeños, red onion and lime zest. Add the cucumber, radishes, grapefruit, scallions, chopped cilantro and fennel seeds to the fish. Whisk together the remaining lime juice and honey and fold into the ceviche mixture. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning.
To serve, spread some of the avocado crema onto a crispy tostada and top with a generous portion of ceviche. Sprinkle each tostada with pepitas, cilantro leaves and a touch of coarse salt and serve at once.