Several years ago I went on a vacation to Mexico. We split our time evenly between a week of touring and a week of beach time. The former included some very long bus rides, amazing Mayan ruins (with musical accompaniment by howler monkeys) and some gorgeous mountain villages with intensely colorful and lush courtyard cafes. Our week at the beach was spent in the company of a group of locals as I attempted to learn to kite surf. My kitesurfing adventures to that point had included one ostrich egg sized head bump obtained after flying 20 ft in the air and landing hard, head first, on the sand (the very first time I harnessed in to a powerful monster kite), a weekend class in Cape Cod where I got the official safety tips to prevent a repeat of said head bump (hopefully) and a few attempts to keep my own medium sized kite in the air while I got to my feet on a board in the ocean (all unsuccessful). Still, I’m nothing if not stubborn, so a week in balmy Mexico seemed the obvious place to try hone my craft! In reality I spent most of my time waiting for the wind to be ‘just right’ and dragging around behind some of the experienced kite surfers so they could give me some tips. I returned from Mexico still unable to go for a solo surf and have not managed any better since.
Minor kiting lessons not withstanding, hanging out with the local surfer crew has one decided advantage: a direct line to the restaurants only the locals know about. Following the lead of the boys, we would start the morning early with massive fruit smoothies and then eat pretty much nothing till dinner time. So by evening we were all famished and we’d sit down in one or another restaurant for a massive family style spread. We had fabulous steaks, spicy guacamole, the freshest of tortillas, great local beers. But my hands down favorite was the ceviche we had on our last night in town, the perfect fresh seafood dish for the end of a summer vacation.
On my return I decided to make this same ceviche for a Mexican themed dinner held to share tales of our trip with friends. It took some searching and some tweaking of recipes to get the same flavors we had enjoyed but now I have my recipe right and I don’t stray. The secret is to keep it simple: this is not a salad or a salsa, its mostly about the fish – and since it is about fish, you need to make sure you use great fish I have a lot of thoughts on how to select sustainable seafood, many of which I shared in a sister post to this piece that I wrote for Daring Kitchen’s Food Talk – I hope you will head over there to read all about ethical fish feasts – with links to several tasty recipes besides this one!
The photo above is the second of the shots we took during our day with professional photographer Tamara Staples at her studio.
- 2 pounds white fish, cubed (I went to the farmers market and got a selection of three different fish from them after a long chat with the fishmonger, this recipe is pretty adaptive, so you can use the best fish you can find)
- 1 pound scallops
- 2-5 Fresh jalapeño chiles (depending how hot you want it)
- 1 Onion, diced
- 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 – 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 Large avocado, diced
- 1 bunch Cilantro, diced (keep a few Tbs of cilantro for garnish)
- 1 Tbs brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups Lime juice
- 1 1/2 cup Lemon juice
- Pinch Salt and pepper
In a large bowl combine all ingredients thoroughly – the lime/lemon juice needs to completely coat the fish as this is how the fish is ‘cooked’. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour (you can make this several hours ahead), stirring occasionally. Once cooked, the fish will change color, becoming whiter and the scallops will become opaque. Serve in large glass bowl, or individual glass dishes, garnish with cilantro and serve with tortilla chips, fresh tortillas or crackers.