Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Cooking with citrus juice

That means ceviche, one of the more delightful of New World delicacies. Raw white fish marinated -- or "cooked" -- in lime and lemon juice has its roots among the indigenous peoples of coastal Central and South America. People in Peru claim to have originated it, but a similar claim along with distinct versions of ceviche come from people in Ecuador, Mexico, Chile, Panama and other countries.

Wherever it came from, it is a deliciously fresh approach to seafood, and it is easier to make than one might think.

Ceviche is in the works in my kitchen as we speak, with a pound or so of sole marinating in my refrigerator, in preparation for tonight's dinner. Many recipes exist, but here's an easy, basic concoction, the very one I am using:

For 4 people, use about one pound of a light white fish. Sole or corvina (sea bass) is best, but it can be made with tuna, squid, octopus, even shrimp and clams. My preference is for a light, non-oily fish.

Start with skinned and boned fish. Dice fish into 1 cm cubes and place in a large glass bowl. Cover with 1 cup of citrus juice, preferably a combination of lime and lemon juice, freshly squeezed. Cover the bowl and refrigerate 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally.

After it is "cooked", turning opaque, drain the citrus juice away. Finely chop a medium onion, 1 clove of garlic, 1 small jalapeño (seeds and spines removed), 1 large or 2 medium ripe red tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of cilantro. Stir chopped ingredients into the fish, add salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste, and it is ready to serve.

Serve with tortilla chips, fried plantain chips or plain crackers.

Appropriate side dishes include sliced avocado, fried sweet potato, corn on the cob or dried and seasoned corn.

¡Delicioso! Is it dinnertime yet?

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