On a hot, oh so incredibly hot blistering day in Isla Mujeres, Mexico my cousin and I made our way to La Justicia Social Cocktaleria, a seafood restaurant owned and operated by the Isla Mujeres fishermen’s co-op. Every day the fresh catches are hauled in and patrons sit, toes nestled in the sand, waiting to eat the freshest seafood available.
My cousin and I followed suit and ordered the ceviche. The key to ceviche is it must be made with the freshest seafood possible. Here at the water’s edge we knew we wouldn’t be disappointed. We sat at our table happily sipping our beers while waiting for the red snapper ceviche to arrive. The server placed it on the table alongside a basket of tortilla chips. The ceviche was heavy with chunks of fresh red snapper, small shrimp and peppers and onions perfectly balanced with citrus. With every bite I appreciated the fishers and the sea. This delicious ode to place is so easy to make at home.
My ceviche features the addition of cucumber for texture, avocado for richness and a mix of lemon and lime juice so it’s not too tart. Sometimes I add small cooked shrimp, sometimes I don’t. I round out the meal with steamed ears of corn and tostadas. Grab a bottle of Tapatio, pour an IPA and dinner is done.
*8 oz. super fresh, sashimi grade firm white fish, cut into uniform chunks (I used halibut. Use any fish you like but it must be a meaty fish to hold up to the marinating.)
1/4 c. lemon or lime juice or a combination of the two
1/4 small onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 cucumber, sliced in half lengthwise, then in thirds, diced
1/4 large bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 tsp. cilantro, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, diced small, seeded if you prefer less heat
1/2 small avocado, diced
1. Place the fish, garlic and onion in a small bowl or Ziploc. Season with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper. Stir.
2. Add the lemon/lime juice to the fish and stir. You want as much surface area of the fish as possible making contact with the juice. Stir again and refrigerate 10 minutes.
3. Stir again and refrigerate 10 minutes more. (See note below re: cooking time. I use a 30 minute marinating time.)
3. Place all the remaining ingredients except the avocado into a serving bowl. Add the fish including the liquid. Season with 1/4 tsp. more salt and stir pushing the fish to the bottom. Refrigerate for 10 minutes more, for a total of 30 minutes.
4. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Lightly stir in the avocado and serve with tostados or tortilla chips.
* How long you cook the fish is up to you. I find it perfect at 30 minutes as it’s cooked on the outside but still quite soft. I enjoy sashimi so I only want the fish a few notches above that texture. The longer it stays in the citrus the firmer it will become. Some folks marinate it overnight but I find that results in dry flaky fish that breaks apart in the ceviche ruining what should be perfect bites. Taste a piece of the fish after 20 minutes and forego the final 10 minutes of marinating time if you are satisfied with the texture. Increase the time by 10 minute increments to find your perfect cook time. This recipe isn’t fussy. It’s not a problem if you “cook” the fish for an hour or two. It’s all about the texture you prefer but just remember the longer it marinates, the firmer and drier the fish.
Love seafood? Have you ever considered joining a Community Supported Fishery (CSF)? Here are some local options to bring fresh seafood to your door.