Fresh Fish: Making Ceviche at Home
If you can made a trip to Whole Foods, you’ll find the freshest fish available anywhere in this country. Quality can’t be guaranteed just by sheer proximity to oceans and streams. We spent a month on the Pacific coast in California and only found one place selling local fresh fish. At Whole Foods, they own fishing boats and fly their catch all around the county the same day it’s caught. Sometimes, a type of fish is frozen on the boat and transported, and the real person behind the counter cutting and serving your fish will tell you all about each any every thing they sell.
Fresh fish is imperative for good ceviche. And there is another market in Denver where the fish is ordinarily even better than Whole Foods and that’s Marczyk’s on 17th and Washington. Their selection might be narrower, but you can trust them more than any other place to have great fish.
Why I’m devoting so much time to where to buy fish for this recipe is that quality is key to producing good Ceviche. If your choices at the market are good, and your sense of foods flavor balance is adequate, your Ceviche will be a show stopper.
You can get fish that you are going to barbeque, stew or fry at Costco, or some other place where it is wrapped in plastic, but for Ceviche it’s best to speak to a real fish monger.
Buy what’s come in that day and get small quantities – say ¼ of a serving – and buy four different things. Or 1/3 serving from one from each of these three classes: Shellfish: shrimp, crab or squid; a firm fish like halibut, tuna, cod and something creamy like lobster, scallops or monkfish.
Choose a crisp vegetable (pepper, cucumber, radish); something from the onion family, something spicy (habanera, jalapeño – chop most fine); something soft usually avocado, and something sweet: tomato, peach, mango. I go for whatever is fresh, great and, if I’m lucky, being promoted with a good price.
This week it was cherries. So we cut the meat off a big handful of cherries, which resulted in nice bite-sized pieces. Chopped a whole red pepper in pieces the size of my little finger nail. Cut thin rings of spring onions, ½ jalepeno in very small pieces, quartered about a dozen baby heirloom tomatoes, and scored into pieces 2 ripe avocados.
Boil water and pour over shrimp or other shell fish if you have any qualms about eating these rare. Then chopped these and the other fish into pieces that will easily scoop onto a cracker or bread. And pour the juice of four limes over it. Refrigerate for at least ½ hour.
Cover the vegetables with the juice of another lime and the empty rinds. Do cover the chopped avocado with lime rinds or juice to keep it from turning brown. Refrigerate this separately and mix together after the fish has had its half-hour or more cooking in the acidity of the lime juice.
Add a little chopped cilantro, parsley or other fresh herb, a little good sea salt and serve on crackers or sliced good bread.
These amount of vegetables and ½ lb halibut, 8 shrimp, 2 scallops made enough Ceviche for five people. Served with a small salad it was a complete dinner fit for company.
Lunch at Los Mayas – June 23, 2010
Old Style Food at Los Mayas, Santa Fe:
The main dining room is open air, and at night someone plays classical guitar at Los Mayas, a very funky building on Guadeloupe and Alameda across from the Hotel Eldorado.
They are open on Sundays for lunch we found out as we stumbled in. Los Mayas is old Hispanic influenced American food, not New Mexican. So, enchiladas are not their specialty. The cheese ones with red sauce were good. The relleno was small — made from a small poblano chili rather than the big, long Anaheim, or New Mexico chili, as they call them in New Mexico since they were first grown here, and then transplanted to Anaheim, California.
The relleno was very tasty, battered and fried with a nice enough green chili vegetable sauce. But it was small. The adovado plate – adovado is chili caribe stewed pork – had all the right flavor and tenderness on the teeth. And just a bit too much salt. On my plate was the fish of the day. A fried red snapper with a green olive caper sauce. We’d all decided it was a risk worth taking – getting the fish — because the menu talked about how they selected local and fresh ingredients and had an interesting sounding ceviche. It was the best choice of the four.