« on: January 16, 2005, 12:25:55 PM »
I have always possessed a fascination with "La Cocina Mexicana", however, I really seriously got started with research, testing recipes, and cooking about 15 years ago.
At one of my many favorite Mexican restaurants, they serve ceviche made with "mahi mahi" which is absolutely beyond compare! The restaurant is called "Felipe’s Parrilla" on Carnelian Street, Montclair area, Southern CA.
I really love ceviche prepared in the Mexican style. Some friends of mine, introduced me to the Peruvian style of cebiche.
Inevitably, while studying ingredients involved in cooking "La Cocina Mexicana", I would be exposed to the cooking of South America. One of the really great books I discovered was "The Art of South America Cooking" by Felipe Rojas-Lombardi (I'm sure there are many books on the subject by now).
This is a passage, I think you will find interesting, from his book on South American style ceviche / cebiche / seviche:
"When lemons were first paired with South America’s wonderful seafood, one of the world’s greatest culinary techniques was born. Using such citrus fruits as lemon and lime to flavor and to "cook" fish and shellfish is at the heart of that unforgettable gastronomic experience known variously as seviche, ceviche, cebviche, as it is written and pronounced in its land of origin, Peru.
Peru, Ecuador, and Chile are acknowledged as having the best ceviches, followed by the rest of the Spanish-colonized countries of South America. Zesty with minced hot peppers, red onions, and fresh cilantro, ceviche is a memorable dish.
When I was growing up in Lima, my friends and I would often end up just before dawn in the cebicherias that lined the shore. Who could resist the remarkably fresh ceviche, maybe eight or twelve different kinds, its fiery peppers so invigorating after a long night of partying? Then there was the ice-cold beer, the perfect accompaniment to ceviche-or to a cebichada, that is, a dinner or feast in which ceviche is the principal, or sometimes the only dish.
Actually, with the exception of a normal breakfast, I cannot think of a time of the night or day when it would not be appropriate to serve ceviche. It makes a fine appetizer for lunch or dinner and a good snack throughout the day. Ceviche can be a light meal in itself, especially if it is served as part of a salad with interesting garnishes.
Ceviche takes no time at all to prepare: it is a matter of squeezing some lemons, chopping some fresh herbs and peppers, and cutting up the fish. It is unthinkable, however, to use anything but fresh seafood. Frozen fish simply will not do, as the taste and texture are destroyed by the freezing process, and nothing in the preparation of ceviche will disguise this.
The only way you can be certain your fish is absolutely fresh is to have some eye contact with the whole fish itself. Only when you have seen for yourself that the eyes are plump and clear without any cloudy traces can you know for sure that it is fresh. The fish should give off a clean smell, and there should be no visible mucus under the light pinkish gills. If the tail flop’s down, then you know that the fish has been in the company of the fishmonger too long. Fresh fish will not flop, since its muscles are still firm.
A word about lemons. In South America, the big fleshy lemons that is common in North America is quite a novelty and is thought of as a "sweet" lemon. What we call limón is more like the North American lime, although much juicier by far. For the preparation of ceviche, either lemon or lime, or a combination of the two, will do. To my palate, lime has a stronger, more perfumed flavor. Because of its more intense acidity, it also cooks the fish
faster. So I often combine the two to bring together the mild bouquet of the lemon and the strong character of the lime.
In South America we make ceviche to flavor food as well as to "cook" it.
Certain shellfish such as shrimp and other crustaceans are not palatable when "cooked" in lemon juice, for the process makes the flesh disintegrate. Shellfish must be blanched first and then tossed in lemons or limejuice just long enough to flavor them. Crab, crayfish, prawns, and lobster must also be blanched and just briefly tossed in juice. The same is true for octopus, squid, and mussels.
To limit the amount of acid that comes into contact with these types of seafood, they are coated with oil first. The oil prevents acid burn and discoloration. This kind of ceviche should never marinate in lemon juice for more than five or the minutes.
The other ingredients that go into ceviche can vary tremendously. They may include hot peppers, red onions, scallions, garlic, julienned raw vegetables, cilantro, and other herbs, and even chunks of avocado, tomato, or boiled potato. The garnish also vary a great deal, but I think the best are lettuce-leaf cup, preferably Boston lettuce, a few tasty black olives, some slices, of hard boiled egg, chunks of sliced sweet potato makes ceviche characteristically Peruvian.
You nee not get carried away with the garnishes, though, because any ceviched made with impeccably fresh fish or shellfish, no matter how simple, will be a superb experience-so superb that virtually every country in South America claims cevich as it own invention. "
Peruvian style is good, but my favorite remains "Estilo Mexicano".
I believe that, even in Mexico, they claim that ceviche is a Mexican invention??
I hope this post stimulates some input from others regarding their favorite regional Mexican style of Ceviche.