Sunday, August 18, 2013
The first time I was exposed to ceviche I was living in Panama (as in Panama, Central America not Panama, Florida) with a very limited palate. Well, I was like 6 or 7 so my narrow focus on buttered noodles and hotdogs is kind of expected. [Side note: Chicken nuggets didn't even EXIST back then. Damn, I'm getting old!] The likelihood of me eating raw fish "cooked" in lime juice was low. Very low. It seemed like one of those "parent lies" they tell you to try to get you to do something they want yet you know they're totally full of it. Like when my mom told me that the giant bowl of whipped yucca was delicious mashed potatoes. More like mashed paste. I admit, though, that at the time I was strangely intrigued by the idea of cooking something with lime juice. It seemed improbable but I'd also recently seen my neighbor mimic an erupting "volcano" with a roll of Mentos and a 2-liter bottle of Coke.
Fast forward many years and I finally did try ceviche, like a big girl. And it was delicious and refreshing and made me feel like I was on a beach with sand between my toes. Living by the ocean provides access to wonderfully fresh fish and Santa Barbara grows citrus like kudzu in the South, so ceviche is common. It usually tastes even better with a margarita or cold beer but that is optional. I've come to realize that I really love lime, especially lime juice. I mean, I'm not dissing the lemon but if I had to choose between the two it would not even be a contest. Maybe too many tequila shots in college?....The lemon never had a chance.
So I was instantly drawn to a recipe I saw for a vegetable "ceviche" in the August issue of Food & Wine. I was hosting a dinner to celebrate Fiesta, which is Santa Barbara's equivalent of Mardi Gras with cascarones instead of beads and flamenco instead of women flashing their boobs, and thought the vegetable "ceviche" would be the perfect accompaniment to the tacos I was serving. And I was thankfully right since I made about 10 pounds of it.
It utilizes many of summer's finest stars—corn, nectarines, tomatoes—and preserves their sweetness and silkiness with a tart lime marinade, which seems like it shouldn't work but does. Kind of like cooking raw fish in lime juice. The ripe avocado adds a welcomed creaminess that compliments the zippy jalapeño and cilantro. And if you think that cilantro tastes like soap the same way that I think yucca tastes like paste, then I beg you to just give it a chance. It really does round out the balance of the dish.
And if you want to feel a little closer to the beach, I suggest you whip up a batch of these to wash this "ceviche" down with. I feel like summer is sadly winding down so I'll gladly squeeze every last ounce out of it I can.
Summer Vegetable "Ceviche"
from Food & Wine
1 cup shelled edamame (or cooked baby lima beans)
1 tsp finely grated lime zest
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
2 nectarines, cut into thin wedges (can substitute peaches)
1 avocado, cubed
1 large orange bell pepper, finely julienned (you can certainly use a red or green one)
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1. In a large bowl, whisk the lime zest and juice with the olive oil, scallion, jalapeño and shallot; season the dressing with salt and pepper.
2. Gently fold in the edamame, corn, nectarines, avocado, bell pepper, and tomatoes.
3. Refrigerate the "ceviche" for at least two hours and up to 8. Fold in cilantro just before serving.
Posted by SB in SB at 9:39 PM