With all the meals that we have to make for the coming holidays, it’s nice to have some dishes that we don’t have to really cook and prepare in advance. Just some easy shopping and chopping can get you a great appetizer or fish course. A simple preparation of ceviche or tartare will also leave you feeling lighter and healthier. Having six meals does not mean you need to end the holiday 12 pounds heavier! So let’s lighten it up with some fresh fish.
Ceviche. For those that are frightened by the sound of ceviche, just know that it is not raw fish. Ceviche is not cooked with heat but rather cooked in the acids of citrus. There are many varieties; the basics for ceviche consist of salt and citrus—usually limes or a combination of other citrus fruits like lemons and oranges. Start with the freshest raw fish you can purchase. This is key for best quality and flavor. You can use any fresh, firm fish like salmon, tuna, halibut, or snapper. Chop up the fish by hand and bathe it in a mixture of lime juice and other ingredients. The result is a firm, opaque fish that has been cooked gently while being infused with flavor.
It can sit in the citrus bath briefly for an almost-raw ceviche, or an hour or more. The longer you marinate the fish, the firmer it will be. The most common additional ingredients are chopped onion, spicy chiles, cilantro, and sometimes tomato. Add in other fresh fruits and veggies to change it up. Serve as an appetizer or a light meal. Use tortilla chips or crackers to top with ceviche, or make a nice plate with slices of avocado.
Tartare. Even simpler than ceviche, but not for the nervous diner, tartare is raw meat or fish that is prepared and sliced just right, and seasoned well. Originally raw, well-seasoned chopped meat topped with a raw egg yolk, tartare has moved on to many variations, using raw tuna especially, as well as lamb and vegetables. The preparation method is simply chopping by hand or food processor. Find the freshest meat, fish, or vegetables that you would eat raw, and combine with garnishes that complement the natural state of the food without masking it.
Salmon pairs well with egg, chives, anchovies, and capers. Tuna with mustard and soy. About 1 pound of raw food of choice should be chopped well and combined with 2 tablespoons of a binding ingredient and 4 tablespoons of garnish. Binders include egg yolk, mustard, mayonnaise, tahini, hoisin, lime juice or lemon juice mixed with olive oil, or miso mixed with soy sauce. Garnishes include capers, chopped egg, lemon zest, chives, scallions, hot sauce, and anchovies. v
Ceviche With Avocado
1 lb. sushi-grade salmon or tuna, cut into ½” cubes
½ red onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 Tbsp. capers, drained
2 ripe avocados, 1 diced, 1 halved and thinly sliced
1 mango, peeled and diced
salt and pepper to taste
6 Tbsp. lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Keep fish in the refrigerator until ready to use. In large bowl, combine onion, garlic, jalapeño, capers, diced avocado, mango, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Toss to mix well. Add fish to the bowl. In small bowl, mix remaining 4 tablespoons of lime juice and ¼ cup olive oil together. Pour over fish in large bowl and toss. Add cilantro just before serving. Fan out sliced avocado on plate and scoop ceviche on edge of the fan. Serve with tortilla chips.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook that you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.