ceviche

Ceviche of Scallop, Squid, Kumquats

Ceviche has not caught on like sushi yet. Not sure why. South and Central Americans love it. It's fast, it's healthy. It probably passes for raw and paleo and all that. Certainly it's low carb. It's loaded with vitamins and good clean protein. You can serve it over shredded romaine and radicchio in a martini glass for an elegant brunch or dinner starter. You can serve it as a main course.

It's as refreshing in Winter as it is in Summer. The "Tiger's Milk" or the juices leftover once the seafood is consumed is reputed to be a sure-fire hangover cure.

The main question you get when you mention ceviche is "...but isn't that raw?!" Even from folks who eat sushi!

The extent to which is is "cooked" by the citrus seems to me to be enough that you wouldn't liken it to sushi, but not cooked enough to make it part of a pregnant woman's regular diet. Now, if you're pregnant and you eat canned goods from BPA-lined cans or a burger from nearly anywhere but a clean local farm with an impeccable slaughterhouse -- I'd argue you're safer with this ceviche, but hey, I'm not a doctor.

 

What is ceviche?

Simply put, it's a quick pickle involving citrus juice for the acid (typically lime) and seafood (most often shrimp, scallops, squid or thin white fish fillets.) Shrimp is so problematic and dirty, I mostly avoid it. You have the insane by-catch (up to nine pounds of wasted unintended catch for every single pound of shrimp harvested on traditional equipment), and you have the imported toxic crap. A few exceptions to be sure, but in the main, not so great.

The good news is that scallops can be harvested locally and with little damage (or a lot, ask your fishmonger) and squid is a great choice. Once prepared in this way, both become velvety and firm and not at all "raw fish" tasting.

 

Recipe: Simple Ceviche - Scallops, Squid, Kumquats


Ingredients:

  • 1 lb scallops (diver scallops, dry pack; rinsed, patted dry and cut into thirds, cross-wise)
  • 1 lb squid (sliced into rings)
  • 2 C freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 C freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice
  • ~ 1/3 C poblano pepper, minced
  • ~ 1/3 C red onion, minced
  • ~ 1 C sliced kumquats, organic please
  • ~ 1C chopped cilantro
  • 1 TBSP aji amarillo
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic
  • ~ 1/3 C jalapeño, minced

 

Note about ingredients: Aji Amarillo is a deep yellow dried pepper that adds a floral note and gorgeous color to the ceviche. It is native to Peru I think, and it is more widely available than it used to be. Try a market with a good "international" section or drive to your nearest bodega. You will most likely find it in dried, powdered form but sometimes in a paste. I first learned of it through Peruvian food.

Here is a photo of some dried Aji Amarillo pods and also the Aji Amarillo powder. Last year, the New York Times called it a "new staple" ingredient. We couldn't agree more.

Although "amarillo" means yellow, the pepper itself is more red-orange in its natural state, turning this sort of caramel color when dried. It does lend a golden color to food it's cooked with, so perhaps that is where the name came from. The pepper is piquant more than it is hot. Definite fruity and floral notes with a gentle not overpowering heat. Try mixing some into your mayo the next time you're making potato salad. Magic!

 

Directions for assembling your Ceviche:

 

  1. Prepare your vegetables, mincing or slicing, as directed. You can vary the amount of heat by reducing the amount of jalapeño if you like but you can also eat around them. If you prefer less heat, leave the jalapeño in larger slices, rather than mince. Slice the kumquats across. This does two things, gives you pretty slices and enables you to remove seeds.
  2. Squeeze your juices. You positively, absolutely do not want to substitute bottled juices here. Remember as a rule of thumb the fewer the ingredients the more important the quality. (Also the acid level is not as critical as in Canning when you actually do want use bottled lemon juice which has a consistent acidity.)
  3. Prepare your scallops and squid. Rinse, pat dry, slice, then blanch by pouring boiling water over the seafood for just a few seconds, drain immediately. Pat dry.
  4. Mix it all together in a large glass or non-reactive bowl.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for four hours. Stir once to ensure all the seafood is evenly submerged. If you leave it in the marinade longer, the seafood will continue to firm up. This is neither good nor bad, just is. I would not be able to tell you what happens after overnight, because we never have it around that long.
The beautiful golden color is imparted by the Aji Amarillo. Sunny, refreshing, healthy, delicious. What could be better?

 

Top 5 Ways to Enjoy Winter Citrus (plus a couple dead-easy recipes)

Every once in a while we have to shake things up. We all get stuck in ruts, falling back on the familiar recipes, the easy ones we don't have to think about.

Right now, even in New England, we have citrus. You may even have a CSA that brings you citrus from the East coast. Or, if you're really lucky, you may have relatives that mail you boxes of citrus from their yard. You may simply pick up some gorgeous citrus in the grocery store. There's a reason we crave citrus in Winter. It's full of vitamins and tastes of the sun - what's not to love?

Here are my picks for some favorite ways to incorporate citrus, hopefully they'll give you some inspiration.

1. Roast a chicken with oranges and lemon and warm Indian spices.

The other night I wanted to roast a chicken. It's one of those meals that grounds me. After traveling to Mali, coming home with a bad cold, visits with out-of-town friends, my many meals out, I was desperate to get cooking again. My friend Virginia Willis calls chickens Gospel Birds (follow that link to find two other recipes including citrus) because they were a traditional Sunday after-church meal.

I had Indian spices on my mind, so here's what I did: Washed and patted dry a chicken we got on sale at Whole Foods. I mixed some homemade Punjabi Garam Masala and canola oil and rubbed that bird all over, let it sit a couple hours in the fridge. To make your own garam masala see Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries or simply buy his new spice blends, here.

When the oven was pre heating (to 375) I sliced orange and lemon wedges and about half a red onion and placed those in the cavity. Tied its legs and folded the wing tips under, then roasted for about half an hour in a small roasting pan with a little water in the bottom. After that first half hour or 40 minutes, I tossed lemon halves, orange wedges, ginger, garlic and a large carrot chopped up into the roasting pan. Once or twice I poured the accumulated juices into a bowl and basted the chicken with it.

While the chicken rested, I poured the pan juices into a grease separator, deglazed the pan with a little saké, added the juice and zest of half an orange went into a pan sauce, along with some citrus champagne vinegar, and the de-greased pan juices. No butter, no flour, just a slightly reduced citrusy pan sauce.

We had white rice (I was out of basmati~!) with aloo gobhi (another simple and satisfying Indian dish - potatoes, ginger, garlic, cauliflower, simmered in tomato and spices). The aloo gobhi came together while the chicken was roasting. Another meal, I made Kathy Gori's Spinach Pachadi, basmati rice and mulligatawny soup.

As our niece Ennyn says "Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy."

2. Make a citrus aioli or mayonnaise.

A little Meyer Lemon is a wonderful thing in some mayo. Even if you're just using it for workaday sandwiches, the extra punch of lemon zest in the mayo is divine. Be sure to get organic lemons and oranges so the zest is free of chemicals. A microplane grater makes quick work of zesting.

 

3. Infuse some vodka.

We have a batch of vodka sitting with lovely strips of Citron. I should've shot some photos but totally forgot. Citron is wild. It looks like a gigantic lemon. I used my vegetable peeler to remove thin strips of zest without pith (the spongy bitter white portion of citrus). Then, I cut into the Citron to squeeze out about a Tablespoon of juice. Really, in that whole thing, that was all there was!

 

4. Enjoy some sustainable seafood.

 

  • Slice lemon or orange slices in some en papillote preparation.
  • Make a ceviche with scallops, squid, poblano, aji amarillo, kumquats and citrus.

 

Here's the ceviche completed:

 

Que RRRRico!

 

5. Lemon Ginger Quinoa.

I had one meal of some leftover Chinese food (dao miu - pea tendrils, and tofu). I just needed a little something but I was too hungry to wait for rice! Quinoa to the rescue. If you haven't tried quinoa yet, you really should. I am giving you one last chance with this easy recipe. It's DONE in less than half an hour!

 

Dead-easy Recipe: Lemon Ginger quinoa recipe

Instructions:

 

  1. Rinse white quinoa thoroughly in a fine mesh sieve. The little berries (yes, they are fruits of the quinoa plant, not actually a grain) are coated with saponin which while it won't hurt you, tastes soapy. I'm convinced most folks who have had a bad quinoa experience have simply had quinoa that wasn't rinsed.
  2. Place quinoa and water in a small pot. Add a slice of fresh ginger root and a wedge of Meyer Lemon. I think orange would work just as well. Whatever your measure of quinoa is, simply add twice the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and pop a lid on it.
  3. Check in 20 minutes to see if water has absorbed. Stir a few times and your quinoa will be done when the little grains unfurl and the water is absorbed.
Enjoy. The advantage of quinoa in addition to its quick cooking time is that it is better for you nutritionally (calcium, protein, minerals) and adds protein to the plate. Zero fat, just good flavor.
Leftover quinoa can be added to or substituted for your morning oatmeal.

  • What are your favorite ways to eat or cook with citrus?
  • Drop a comment and win a package of Raghavan Iyer's Garam Masala. (Have a look at these gorgeous photos and lovely article on The Heavy Table blog.)
  • I'll use the random number generator to pick from our comments. Contest closes 5 PM Wednesday February 29th!