Ceviches, the wonderful lime-marinated seafood cocktails of Latin American, are experiencing a new evolution. In Mexico, for centuries ceviche has meant ultra-fresh fish or shellfish that’s preserved/marinated/“acid-cooked” in lime juice. But many modern chefs have broadened the concept to include practically any bold-flavored combination of seafood, vegetables, chiles, herbs, even fruit, that can be served as a cool appetizer or snack, usually with a bracing bolt of lime. My version here is pretty traditionally Mexican, except that the fish in Mexico would often be mackerel or kingfish, it would typically be marinated long enough to “cook” through, and it would be served in a glass or on a tostada, rather than nestled into greens. I’ve recently become enchanted with the Peruvian take on ceviche (the fish is marinated only moments before serving), especially since sashimi-grade fish (the top, okay-to-eat-raw grade) is becoming more common in our fish markets. Whatever your marinating preference, this salad is just the ticket on a warm summer night, served with crusty bread or crackers.
- 1 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro
- Fresh hot green chile to taste (I like 2 serranos or 1 jalapeño), stemmed and roughly chopped
- 1 to 1 ¼ pounds sashimi-grade boneless skinless fish (tuna, snapper and salmon are options you’ll likely find), cut into ½-inch cubes OR about 1 to 1 ¼ pounds medium-to-small cooked shrimp
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into ¼-inch cubes
- 1 large head of Boston/butterhead lettuce (or an equivalent amount of bibb lettuce), leaves separated
- 1 green onion, roots and wilted outer leaves removed, thinly sliced crosswise or a little chopped cilantro, for garnish
- In a blender or food processor, combine the lime juice, garlic, cilantro, chiles and 1 scant teaspoon salt. Process until smooth.
- Scoop the fish into a large bowl. Pour the lime marinade over it and let it “cook” in the lime juice to suit your own taste: you can eat it right away (Peruvian-style) if you like raw fish or let it “cook” for up to 4 hours if you like it well-done; cooked shrimp need only a few minutes to soak up the flavor.
- Pour off half of the marinating liquid and set aside. Toss the avocado with the fish, then taste and season with additional salt if you think necessary.
- Divide the lettuce between 4 dinner plates. Scoop a portion of the ceviche into the center of each arrangement. Sprinkle with chopped green onion or cilantro. Drizzle some of the reserved lime marinade over lettuce and you’re ready to serve.