Most people I know eat ceviche at restaurants or on tropical vacations. But it is one of those dishes that, like sushi, folks shy away from making at home. I think that is because it generally is made with raw seafood, which necessitates having really, really fresh fish.
Fear the raw no more! With my cooked version of ceviche — using shellfish you buy already cooked — you can make ceviche anywhere, anytime. Feeling more adventurous? You also could add or substitute baby squid, scallops, rock shrimp, or even lobster.
While the shellfish marinates, I mince fresh habanero and serrano chilies to add the traditional "bite" to the dish. I also chop ripe red grape tomatoes and creamy avocado. I also like adding chunks of mango or even fresh passion fruit to add a sweet-tart fruitiness to the tangy tomatillo-lime mixture. These ingredients are best tossed into the seafood just before serving.
If you are planning to save some leftovers for the next day, reserve the seafood and add the flavouring ingredients just before serving the second time. The tomatoes, avocados and any fruit will get mushy otherwise.
When you serve this dish, make the presentation count! I like to serve it in stem-less martini glasses or a footed glass bowl. If you use a bowl, make sure that it is short or you risk having your ceviche tip over. Add a few tortilla chips around the foot of the bowl and place a wedge of lime on the rim, like a cocktail. Sprinkle the ceviche with a pinch of fleur de sel and dig in. You'll feel like you are on vacation!
While you can use frozen cooked shrimp for this recipe, freshly steamed are best. The easy way to do this is to buy the shrimp raw, then ask the staff at the grocer's seafood counter to steam them for you. Most grocers offer this service for free.
SUMMER CEVICHE WITH SHRIMP AND CRAB
Start to finish: 45 minutes
1/2 cup lime juice
3 to 4 large fresh tomatillos, husks removed, washed
1 loosely packed cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 pounds cooked large shrimp, shells and tails removed
1/2 pound of lump crabmeat, picked over for any shells
1 to 2 teaspoons minced serrano pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons minced habanero pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
Fleur de sel
Lime wedges, to serve
Tortilla chips, to serve
In a blender, combine the lime juice, tomatillos, cilantro and kosher salt. Puree until smooth, then set aside.
Cut each shrimp into 3 large chunks. Place the shrimp in a large bowl, then pour the lime juice mixture over them. Mix well, then stir in the crab. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, mixing every 10 minutes to ensure the flavours are well distributed.
Just before serving, mix in both chili peppers, the tomatoes and avocado. Serve in individual bowls garnished with lime wedges. Sprinkle the top with a pinch of fleur de sel and serve with tortilla chips on the side.
Nutrition information per serving (not including tortilla chips) (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 230 calories; 70 calories from fat (30 per cent of total calories); 8 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 210 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrate; 32 g protein; 3 g fiber; 440 mg sodium.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Elizabeth Karmel is a grilling and Southern foods expert and executive chef at Hill Country Barbecue Market restaurants in New York and Washington, as well as Hill Country Chicken in New York. She is the author of three cookbooks, including "Soaked, Slathered and Seasoned."