Believe it or not, we’re already into week three of our Fire Island share house season, when Richard and I play host to a great group of shareholders who either take a time share that includes every fourth week throughout the season (till mid-October) or every other week. With five bedrooms, total, we usually have about 8-10 people around the dinner table on Saturday nights, and this week was no different.
Of course, coming up with new and original dishes to serve everyone – people who are also our long-time friends, for the most part – is always a challenge, but when it comes out right, it’s also a really great feeling. People ask me all the time if I enjoy cooking, and my standard reply is that, no, it’s a lot of scullery work, but what I do love to do is feed people, and as long as that is the end result, then a little time in the kitchen is well worth the effort.
Several years ago, when we were in Costa Rica – where the fish are so fresh they’re still flopping, and the vegetables are unsurpassed in freshness and taste – we fell in love with one of the local specialties, ceviche (a dish served cold that includes diced raw fish marinated in lime juice to do the cooking). But, it never even occurred to me to try to make some until a couple of years ago when I was faced with a piece of left-over salmon that was too small to serve as a main course, but more than enough for some experimenting, and I decided to cut it up and see if I could replicate the tastes we had so enjoyed on the beaches of Manuel Antonio.
Well, it turned out even better than I had imagined and, ever since, I’ve been perfecting my recipe (if you can ever call a recipe “perfected”), which came in handy again last week when I was faced with yet another portion of left-over fillet. Oh, and just for the record, cilantro is one of my least favorite herbs since it so overpowers almost everything it touches, but not in this case. Cilantro truly makes this dish work. Even if you normally don’t like it, try it anyway. You’ll be amazed.
RECIPE: Salmon Ceviche
2-3 lbs of fresh fish (salmon used here, but any non-oily whitefish would do just as well).
1 Vidalia (or similarly sweet) onion, minced
1 Green bell pepper, minced
1 Red bell pepper, minced
1 yellow bell pepper, minced
1 orange bell pepper, minced
1 large (or 2 small) stalk celery, minced
10 limes (or enough to make approximately 1 cup of lime juice
1 cup chopped cilantro (measured loosely – don’t pack down)
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice limes and set juice aside.
Prepare vegetables by cutting into very small pieces (i.e., 1/8″ cubes, more or less).
Clean and chop cilantro.
With sharp carving knife, cut salmon into small pieces (more or less 1/4″x 1/4″ by 1/2″)
Combine all ingredients except juice in a bowl and mix well to distribute everything evenly.
Add lime juice and mix thoroughly.
Place entire concoction in a sealable plastic bag and place in refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours (six is better; 12 is too many) for the lime juice to do it’s magic.
Serve on a bed of lettuce or surrounded by cracked ice in a shrimp-cocktail dish.
Bask in compliments.
NOTES: Though this will last for a couple of days in the refrigerator if you have any left over (an unlikely prospect), it is best consumed within a day or so of making. That said, don’t skimp on the time you let it sit before serving since it needs several hours to “cook.”
© 2015, George Thomas Wilson, all rights reserved.