Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fresh Catch of the Day? How about Ceviche?

This post is going to come off bittersweet. I normally just talk about food and my memories associated with preparing/consuming delicious food, but today gets a little personal. Louisville Lady Gourmet Abroad is heading home, albeit against her will. I ran into a wall with the Spanish bureaucratic system and it is too expensive and time-consuming of a problem to alleviate at the moment with my resources--so it is back to the drawing board. This also means that I have to go back to my home, Louisville, where my heart certainly is if you can't already tell. I have very supportive friends and family waiting for me, and I can't wait to dive back into the always exciting Derby City life.

I will be leaving behind a very loving family in Spain, and the Handsome Spaniard and I will have to do some work before we can figure out our next step. It is funny how these long-distance things work out--I feel like we've been met by so many challenges crossing oceans, countries, governments, and we always end up together. I am happy to have had the experiences I have for chasing love, and I look forward to the new adventures that come to us. For now, we have to see what comes along! Now I am the Louisville Lady Gourmet Abroad At Home.

Okay, now let's get back to FOOD!

For my final week in the Mediterranean, we have decided to seize the fruits of the land and create all of the fresh-deliciousness that we possibly can. The first on the list is not necessarily a Mediterranean recipe, but rather it has Latino roots--Ceviche. We started off by going to our favorite fishmonger in our neighborhood fresh market, and let me tell you--she is amazing! There were so many different fish and at sushi-grade quality, which is helpful because this involves raw fish. The first thing that caught our eye was the ruby-red colored Mediterranean tuna. I will admit my naïvete at never thinking that tuna was in the Mediterranean Sea, but you learn something new everyday (even when you're a know-it-all like me >.>), and I am so glad we learned this! We bought 150g of tuna and we bought another whole fish (the species of which I forget, but it was delicious too) for a ridiculously low price, but such is life next to a plentiful body of water.

In addition to the fish purchase, we also bought limes and avocados, which were not so fairly priced due to import pricing, but it was totally worth it. I opened with guacamole and tortilla chips (I actually found stone-ground tortilla chips in Europe!!!!) and we reserved some of the avocado to mix with fresh tomatoes. This is the bed for the Ceviche. Because we are using tuna, this is more traditional of the Mexican Ceviche. The Peruvian Ceviche uses white fish like Mahi. After my first attempt, I would say throw any kind of super fresh fish into some citrus juices and you will thoroughly enjoy the outcome! Let's get started:

Guacamole Dip
1-2 Very ripe avocados
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp Cilantro (be careful not to overdo it with this)

Guacamole is the simplest and most rewarding of appetizers. It could be used as butter, as in you can eat it on anything. I made a killer toast appetizer the other day with guacamole, queso fresco, chili pepper, and a tiny bit of olive oil <<life changing>>. Anyways, here is the basic idea:
Scoop out the avocado from its shell and mash with a fork. Finely chop a few leaves of cilantro and sprinkle them in, throw the lime juice in, add salt and....the most important part, TASTE. Guacamole is a taste as you go recipe. I recommend that you start with a little cilantro and a little lime juice and adjust as you go--if you add too much cilantro, you can't go back, and that is a crying shame for the beautiful, happy avocado. When you've finished tasting (if there is anything left) you are ready to serve! Easy as can be! Serve with hearty tortilla chips.

Raw tuna, skinned, and cubed into 1/2 inch or 1 inch cubes (the size will determine how they "cook")
1T Minced onion
Fresh lime juice (enough to cover the tuna in whatever container you will be marinating them in)
2 Tomatoes, diced
1 Very ripe avocado, mashed
Fresh cilantro

This Ceviche is a 3-step process: fish prep, base prep, assembly. First, grab a bowl and throw in your cubed ruby-red tuna, then add the onion and lime juice until the pieces of tuna are covered. The citrus juice will "cook" the tuna, or any fish you try this with. It is not actually cooking the meat, but rather it changes the firmness, so it is absolutely important that you use very fresh fish (sushi-grade if you can find it). The longer you keep the tuna in the juice, the more firm it will become. I prefer my fish to be on the raw side, so we kept it in there for 15 minutes. You can marinate the tuna up to a half hour depending on the doneness you desire. The size of the cubes will also affect the time necessary to marinate the fish--the smaller the cubes, the faster they will firm up, the bigger the cubes, the more you can control texture and doneness.
Tuna marinade with lime juice and minced onion.
While the tuna is marinating you can prepare the bed. Mash up the avocado like you are going to make guacamole, then add the diced tomato, a little salt, and cilantro. Resist the urge to eat it all with your leftover tortilla chips.

Now that all of your parts are ready, it is time for assembly! You can neatly spoon the avocado-tomato mixture onto a plate, or if you want to get fancy, you can oil a round or square cookie cutter and spoon the avocado mixture inside, it will hold the shape and you can gently lift the cookie cutter off. Top the avocado-tomato base with the marinated tuna and a little of the lime juice--don't go crazy with it, a drizzle will do. Garnish with lime and cilantro. And you're all set! You are ready to dive into a beautiful dish from the southern hemisphere. The fish is delicately flavored and has a wonderful texture--you do NOT detect "fishiness" of any kind, and I guarantee satisfaction if you're up to the challenge!

I hope that you enjoy, let me know if you try any other flavor combinations. Other citrus juices like lemon or orange could work out as well--I think the high acidity is preferred to cook the fish.

Stay tuned for some more dishes before I set sail! For all those in L'ville, see you soon!

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