This recipe was given to me by our dear friend Desiree. She prepared it for one of our JazzVox concerts and it was a huge success. I absolutely could not stop eating it. And believe me, I was not alone. I did change some of the amounts and omit a couple of ingredients, but that’s only because of personal preference. The great thing about ceviche is that in addition to shrimp and scallops you can use a wide variety of other seafood including snapper, flounder, sea bass, halibut, mahi-mahi, tilapia, squid, and octopus. In fact, tilapia is very widely used in Mexico and here in America it is fairly inexpensive and widely available. And I know, ceviche is all about “cooking” seafood in citrus juice, mainly lemon and lime. However, I prefer to actually lightly poach my shrimp and scallops before I add them to the other ingredients. Technically speaking, to actually cook something, heat is required. So a dish in which raw fish is marinated in citrus juice hasn’t truly been cooked. But food “cooked” in an acid isn’t exactly raw either. Both heat and citric acid are agents of a chemical process called denaturation. Denaturation is the process by which protein molecules in food are structurally changed by heating, agitation, pressure or adding an alkali or acid. When fish is “cooked” in citrus juices, the process of denaturation turns the flesh firm and opaque, as if it had been cooked with heat. But from everything I’ve read, “cooking” food in citrus juice does not do as good a job of killing bacteria or parasites as does cooking with heat. Unless you are absolutely positive your seafood is ultra fresh, I would recommend that you at least consider a hot bath for your seafood before you add it to its flavorful citric marinade. But enough about “cooking” and cooking! Let’s go on to an interesting and perhaps little known fact about ceviche marinade.
If you are a ceviche connoisseur, then you probably already know about Tiger’s Milk (leche de tigre). But just in case you don’t, leche de tigre is what the Peruvians call the leftover ceviche marinade. It is often served as the drink of choice when ceviche is on the menu. It is served in small glasses with or without vodka. (I’m tellin’ you, for me to drink this concoction it would have to be at least 1/3rd vodka!) But, apparently Peruvians love their leche de tigre. They consider it an excellent cure for hangovers. (You know, I don’t make this stuff up; but it seems to me that vodka spiked leche de tigre would cause more hangovers than it would cure!) Happy ceviche everyone.
- ½ c. fresh orange juice
- 4 limes, juiced
- 3 lemons, juiced
- dash hot sauce
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- ½ c. finely diced red onion
- 1-2 very finely minced jalapeño peppers
- 2 c. (about ¾ lb.) raw scallops
- 2 c. (about ¾ lb. raw de-veined medium large shrimp
- ½ c. finely chopped cilantro
- 4 finely chopped green onions
- 2-3 campari or vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
- 2 avocados, diced
In a medium sized, non-reactive bowl, stir together the orange juice, 3/4th of the lime juice (reserve the remaining lime juice to add just before serving), lemon juice, hot sauce, salt, pepper, red onion, jalapeño, and poached scallops and shrimp. (To poach the shrimp and scallops, season 2 quarts of water with 1/4 cup kosher salt and bring to a boil. Once the water has come to a boil, add the seafood to the pot and immediately turn off the heat. Let the shrimp and scallops sit until just about cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the water and immediately drop in ice cold water. Drain, pat dry, and cut into bite sized pieces.) Make sure seafood is completely covered with citrus liquid. Add more lime juice if necessary. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Stir once or twice to ensure everybody marinating uniformly. 30 minutes before serving add the cilantro, green onions, tomatoes, avocados, and reserved lime juice. Adjust seasoning and drain off part of the liquid. (Or of course, you can serve the extra marinade in small glasses to the uninitiated.) Serve as an appetizer with tortilla chips or on a bed of lettuce for a light summer salad. Either way, ceviche is a heavenly way to enjoy seafood.