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Seviche

No Such Thing as Too Much Seviche  –  My first taste of seviche was at a high-end Mexican restaurant in the States about 10 years ago. Ever since, I’ve been hooked on this tantalizing mixture of fresh fish, citrus, and fruit or vegetables.

Seviche—also known as ceviche, tartare or numerous other names depending on the country—has it origins in Latin America but is now common in the Caribbean and elsewhere.

Raw fish or shellfish is marinated in citrus, typically lime or lemon juice. Through a chemical process called denaturation, the citric acid mimics the effects of heat and changes the structure of the proteins in the fish. The citrus “cooks” the fish and causes the flesh to become opaque and firm. After marinating in citrus, some combination of vegetables, fruit and seasoning is added to the fish to make seviche.

 

I only have one complaint about seviche—the tiny portions served in restaurants. It’s often listed as an appetizer, and I can never get enough. Usually I opt for quality of food over quantity, but with seviche, I want both. And since it’s so healthy, there’s no guilt in eating a big portion. Once I moved to the BVI and miraculously started catching my own fish, I began making my own seviche. Because I had plenty of fish, I was able to make big batches of the dish. Finally, quality (the best ever) and quantity.

If you’re lucky enough to catch fish—particularly mahi mahi, tuna or wahoo—while trolling a line from a sailboat or powerboat, seviche is an ideal way to “cook” onboard. The main reason being that due to the denaturation process, you don’t have to use an oven or stove.

Though simple to prepare, high quality ingredients are essential for seviche. Local avocados, limes, mangoes and peppers are always best, if you can find them. Ultra fresh fish is also particularly important. (Unlike cooking with heat, the process of denaturation doesn’t kill parasites.) If purchasing fish, remember that fresh fish shouldn’t smell fishy; rather it should smell like the sea. Fresh fish is always preferable, but high quality frozen fish can also be used.

 

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I usually serve seviche as a make-ahead appetizer. The ideal accompaniment is homemade tortilla chips, made by cutting up flour tortillas and frying them in vegetable oil until golden and crisp. Since deep frying isn’t always ideal for a boat, seviche can also be served with purchased tortilla or plantain chips. The crispy, salty chips serve as a perfect compliment to the tangy seviche.

From time to time, I’ll make enough seviche for a main course, and my husband and I will indulge in huge portions that we could only dream of in a restaurant. Accompanied by some icy cold beers, such as Heineken, I can’t think of many other meals I’d prefer.

Tuna or Wahoo Seviche

  • • 1 lb freshest tuna or wahoo fillet, diced in ½” pieces
  • • Juice of 4 limes
  • • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • • ½ medium mango, peeled and diced
  • • 3 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • • 3 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • • A few dashes of your favorite hot sauce

Combine the fish and lime juice in a non-aluminum bowl. Cover and refrigerate for about 45 minutes or until fish becomes opaque and firm. Drain fish. Toss the marinated fish with avocado, mango, cilantro and red onion. Drizzle hot sauce over the top and stir.  Add salt to taste.

Mahi Mahi Seviche

  • • 1 lb freshest mahi mahi fillet, cut in ½” strips
  • • Juice of 4 lemons
  • • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • • 1 small tomato, diced
  • • 1 medium mango, peeled and diced
  • •  ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine tuna and lemon juice in a non-aluminum bowl. Cover and refrigerate for one hour or until fish becomes opaque and firm. Drain fish. Add marinated fish, onion, bell pepper, tomato and mango. Sprinkle salt and freshly ground black pepper over the ingredients and stir. 

 

 

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