Friday, August 21, 2009

Succulent Ceviche with Whitefish

Ceviche blew my mind the first time I heard of it. The idea of "cooking" with no heat seemed so exciting; that because of the delicate tissue in seafood and fish, when you soak it in a high acid solution, often lime juice, the acid will break down the cell walls and "cook" the meat.



I love the delicate succulence of sushi and sashimi, and this same quality, often lost or diluted when cooking, is so wonderfully preserved in ceviche. Each bite is a burst of subtle juiciness infused with the tartness of the citric marinade. Nothing can be more satisfying on a warm summer day then this fresh cool dish!



Because this dish is all about the delicacy of the meats, you want a fish which has a more subtle flavor. As awesome as this dish is, it can be made horrible with a strong fishy flavor. Gross gross gross! So stay with a whitefish and you won't be sorry. Although, we are very frugal here, this is a dish which needs good quality fish. It can be made with some cheap farm raised tilapia, but I would suggest going to your local fish monger or grocer and asking for a good fillet cut. I've made this with wild stripped sea bass as well as the Peruvian Corvina sea bass for the Polynesian meal, and the better the meat, the more beautiful this dish becomes. So don't skimp. That's my advice.

The marinade needs to be high enough acid content in order to "cook" the fish. I tried making it with marinades higher in wine content then citrus juice or vinegar but the meat was a bit raw, even after soaking for 8 hours. SO my recipe sticks with the traditional technique of being mostly citrus juice with some additional flavors. Many recipes call for cutting the fillets up into small bite size chunks, which make the soaking time much less, but I like keeping the fillets larger because I feel as though the meat retains the fresh texture better. So with no further ado, on to the recipe.

Whitefish Ceviche

30 minutes prep time, 8 hours total time
  • 1-2 lb of fillets of whitefish
  • 10 limes
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1/2 c. sweet vinegar (rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, etc)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • fresh fruit, diced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • optional: papaya seeds, black tea


Prep fillets: Take each fillet and cut in half or in thirds (for large pieces). If the fillets have differences in thickness, trim any thicker areas to create a uniform thickness. Place the fillets between parchment paper and gently pound to lightly tenderize the meat. Don't beat it, just to slightly mush it a bit.

Soak the fish in salt water:
In a bowl of salt water, soak the bowl for 10 minutes or so. This will give the fish a quick brine and help infuse the salt into the meat.

Tenderize the meat: Remove the fish from the salt water and lay out in glass dish. Lay each piece of fish out so they don't overlap. Sprinkle fish with salt and freshly cut pepper. You can use smashed papaya seeds instead of pepper. Optional, you can also sprinkle the meat with dried black tea which helps give a nice subtle bitterness to the sweet taste of the fish. Cover the dish in syran and place in the fridge.

Prep marinade: Squeeze limes for fresh lime juice. Mix juice with wine and vinegar. Set aside. Dice onions, tomatoes and any fresh fruit. I used papaya and mango. The fruit helps infuse a sweetness into the fish.



Assemble ceviche: Remove dish of fish out of the refrigerator. Cover with 3/4 of the diced onion, tomatoes and fruit, reserving 1/4. Pour the marinade so it just covers the fish. Recover and chill.

Flip fish: After 15 minutes, remove the dish from the fridge and flip the fish. Cover and chill. The fish will probably need to sit between 6-8 hours in the marinade to be fully prepared. Check back every couple hours to flip the fish, maybe two or three times.



Plate the fish
: When you check the fish, take a piece and slice into the center. You'll want it to be white all the way through. If its still pink at the center, it needs a bit more time. When its done, remove the fish from the marinade. Cover with the remaining fresh onions tomatoes and chopped fruit.

Serve, eat, yum!

4 comments:

Janice said...

I had ceviche tacos in Mexico and they are wonderful with cilantro, tomatoes, and some spicy peppers.

Daniel said...

danny here...
you had me at ceviche. I LOVE CEVICHE. Its gotta be hard in Chi-town to get fresh fish for a good price no?

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=106534

Richard said...

My only addition to this would be that if you want it quickly, chopping it smaller really does speed up the process immensely--45 minutes, even.

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