Ceviche Surf and Turf
Grouper ceviche and lightly seasoned steak come together for a flavorful surf and turf
Last summer I sank my teeth into ceviche on a boat with three other couples after an afternoon swimming with whale sharks. My husband and I were on the first week of our honeymoon in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Upon scouting out an adventure, we decided on a rickety boat tour to swim with the docile, plankton-eating, colossal whale sharks. Thinking we'd follow after the first couple’s lead in whale shark swimming, we soon found ourselves to be the ones setting the example. The experience in itself was remarkable. At one moment we were floating above an enormous stingray, angelically fluttering its wings beneath us. In a matter of moments the grey and white dappled shark swam past us and our guide eyeballed for us to swim after its tail. For some reason flippers did not work in my favor so I latched on to my husband letting his lifeguard instincts tow me along.
On our way to the school of whale sharks one of the fisherman retrieved a fish he'd caught earlier that morning from a cooler and a long plastic cutting board to make our ceviche lunch. I became a little queasy with the boat ride and the thrill of swimming. The thought of our lunch being made in our midst only worsened it. Famished after our scuba diving endeavor in the middle of the Gulf, I was ready to scavenge every last bit of our unsanitary prepared grub. We were each handed a couple cervezas and a cup of ceviche. It was ultra limey, gushing with the sharpness from the juice, cilantro and onion.
After a long morning of sunbathing and wave dodging back home, the simplicity of the ingredients and preparation convinced us to make ceviche for ourselves for an easy, though impressive, dinner for my in-laws. Ceviche is a traditional dish prepared with fresh, raw white fish that is "cooked" in the acidic bath of lime and/or lemon juice. We went with a pound of fresh grouper and spruced it up in a tropical palette of red and yellow bell peppers as well as avocado, green onions and, of course, cilantro.
For this surf and turf we served a steak minimally seasoned with salt and pepper to save our taste buds for the ceviche. After three hours at the beach, the grouper became tender and juicy whilst soaking in the lime and orange juices. 'Twas the quintessential bite of summer. Our homemade tortilla chips were fried lightly, then sprinkled with coarse salt. I recommend frying more than enough tortillas because they're great on their own...even when the ceviche is long gone.
Our ceviche may not have been prepared by a fisherman on a boat in the middle of the Gulf, but its flavors remain true, bringing us back to the Mexican heat and a day of swimming with whale sharks.
Yield: 5 servings
1 lb. fresh grouper (or another white fish), rinsed and cut into small chunks
¼ cup red pepper diced
¼ cup yellow pepper diced
1 jalapeno, finely diced
Juice of 4 large limes
Splash of orange juice
1/3 cup green onions, sliced
6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
½ cup cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, diced
6 flour tortillas
Add all ingredients for the ceviche (except the avocado) to a shallow 8x8 dish. Mix well, making sure the fish is submerged in the lime juice mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours as the lime juice "cooks" the ceviche.
While refrigerating ceviche, make tortilla chips. Fill a skillet with a hefty amount of oil, enough to cover the bottom of the skillet and then some. Heat the oil on medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add a tortilla and let fry for about 45 seconds (or until the bottom side is browned). Flip and brown the other side. While frying, air bubbles may form in the tortilla. Press gently on the bubbles with a spatula or tongs in order to deflate them so the tortilla lays flat in the skillet. Repeat these steps for the remaining tortillas. Once all tortillas are cooked, sprinkle salt on them, and cut into chips.
After 3 hours, season ceviche with salt and pepper. To serve, spread a few chips on each plate and top with ceviche. Garnish with avocado. Plop your steak right next to the ceviche, and dinner is served!