Ceviche is pretty forgiving as long as you adhere to some simple rules: only use the freshest fish possible and a good amount of fresh acidic fruit juice to cure it. I always include lime juice, either straight up or mixed with other fruit juices, like grapefruit which has a mellowing effect. But all sorts of stuff works like tomatoes, lemon, a shot of vinegar — the acid “cooks” the fish. Careful though, rule three is don’t mix it up too far in advance because the acid breaks everything down into mush after a couple of hours. Which spawns rule four, only make as much a you plan to eat.
My favorite ceviche was when my nephew Michael and I took a jaunt down to the Andes. Ceviche was born and perfected in Lima, Peru. As opposed to Lima, Ohio, home of Cole Porter or Lima, Ohio where McKinley High School’s glee club strives to win sectionals, regionals or — OMG!!!! — the nationals.
But I digress.
After trekking up to Machu Picchu, we swung down to Miraflores where my nephew Michael and I and found the varieties of fresh fish and other fixings restorative and delicious. Miraflores is a lovely seaside neighborhood in Lima and by lovely I mean where the rich people live and the guidebooks say it’s safe.
Most memorable were the offerings at an unprepossessing luncheonette just steps away from a huge bluff looming above the ocean. The rounded black rocks on the vast beach varied in size between large baked potatoes and young chickens. The violent surf tossed them terribly, creating a ferocious roar, the soundtrack to the best ceviche ever.
Back home, at Stuarts in Amagansett I was guided to this fresh trio of striped bass, weakfish and fluke. Amagansett is also where rich people live and it’s safe there too. Imagine that.
Stuarts’ fish is fresh off the boats in Montauk (safe but not as rich). You want to avoid oily stuff like swordfish and bluefish, both which are in season but would be gross. Let yourself be guided by an expert.
Montauk Ceviche Recipe
1 lb. striped bass (skin removed)
1 lb. weakfish (skin removed)
1/2 lb. fluke
1 sweet red pepper
1 ripe avocado
1/2 c. finely chopped cilantro
Cut the skinned fish into 1/2″ chunks. Go over the pieces with your hands and pull out stray bones, esp. with striped bass.
Skin the avocados and cut into 1/2″ dice. Do the same with the mango.
Cut the seeded jalapenos into neat, tiny dice. Do the same with the red pepper.
Mix the fish, fruit, vegetables together in a non-reactive bowl. Squeeze the limes and grapefruit for their juices (I use a small strained to catch the seeds so I can squeeze directly into the bowl. I’m sure you’ve figured out the best method for you by now).
Let rest in the refrigerator at least an hour, stirring at the 30 minute mark. Serve within 3 hours — after that the fish gets too “cooked” the mix becomes watery and so the ceviche is a blend of bright flavors and textures rather than an undistinguished mush which nobody wants, not even the dog.
Anyway add some salt and pepper. I like it with corn chips, which you can fry yourself using cut-up corn tortillas or just use good store-bought ones. Let the ceviche be the star.Print This Post