This ceviche—which accompanied a delightful quinoa, avocado, and heart of palm salad—did not make me physically sick, although it’s possible it made me just a tad sick with worry.
The recipe I used, from Simply Recipes, is perfect. The fish was fully “cooked” and incredibly flavorful. I was not worried about the fish. Follow this recipe, and you will be amazed. The moral of the story is: do what Simply Recipes tells you, especially when it comes to raw fish.
My error—the one that gave me worry-pangs—began, as it often does, from lack of skills and misguided improvisation. First, I had accidentally purchased a whole snapper, rather than snapper fillets. As it turns out, I have no idea how to properly skin and de-bone fish, so I ended up with, well, not that much fish. It was going to be a rather sad spoonful of ceviche unless I supplemented it. So, in a fit of genius, I decided to supplement the snapper with the frozen shrimp I keep in the freezer for just such emergencies. I thawed them out, chopped them up, and tossed them in with the fish.
The shrimp were my second mistake. Ceviche can indeed be made with shrimp. As I learned after the fact, however, most recipes call for quickly cooking the shrimp—with actual heat—before putting them in their citric acid bath. In fact, while my raw shrimp were marinating away, I came across Simply Recipe’s separate recipe for shrimp ceviche, where she says: “While the acidic marinade ‘cooks’ the proteins, it doesn’t kill the bacteria. Whereas this isn’t as much of an issue with raw fish (think sushi, sashimi), it is with shellfish like shrimp and scallops which can go bad much more easily. Unless you are getting your shrimp straight off the boat, for food safety reasons it’s best to lightly pre-cook the shrimp.”
Again, no harm done, and even my bacterial shrimp were delicious. But I’ve learned my lesson.
From Simply Recipes
2 lbs of firm, fresh red snapper fillets (or other firm-fleshed fish), cut into 1/2 inch pieces, completely deboned
1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 cup of chopped fresh seeded tomatoes [I omitted]
1 serrano chili, seeded and finely diced
2 teaspoons of salt
Dash of ground oregano
Dash of Tabasco or a light pinch of cayenne pepper
Tortillas or tortilla chips
In a non-reactive casserole dish, either Pyrex or ceramic, place the fish, onion, tomatoes, chili, salt, Tabasco, and oregano. Cover with lime and lemon juice. Let sit covered in the refrigerator for an hour, then stir, making sure more of the fish gets exposed to the acidic lime and lemon juices. Let sit for several hours, giving time for the flavors to blend. During the marinating process the fish will change from pinkish grey and translucent, to whiter in color and opaque.
Serve with chopped cilantro and slices of avocado with heated tortillas for ceviche tacos or with tortilla chips.