Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ceviche...not just Mexican anymore!

I love ceviche!  The traditional Mexican made with tomatoes, red onions, jalapenos, lime juice (sometimes with lemon), avocados, cilantro and the secret ingredient...good, ol' garden variety tomato ketchup!  Yep, it's just sweet enough to balance the tartness of everything else.  I allow my seafood to "cook" in the stays very tender and succulent that way.  If you pre-cook it, even for a minute (and to that I ask...why?), it changes the texture.  So, please trust me...the seafood/fish really does cook in the worries.
I also love Thai fact, most all Asian I was delighted when I found this recipe in the latest Food and Wine.  I have changed it a little (surprise) and made it last night (we had a giant snowstorm, okay it is Oklahoma but we did get 7 inches of snow on top of ice, in the last couple of days so did a lot of recipe testing).  This version is really flavorful and just different enough from the Mexican version that I think it's worth adding to your repertoire.  I think it also gives you some jumping off ideas for other versions of ceviche...maybe Italian use swordfish with olives and lemon, or French bistro...rouget with some artichoke hearts and garlic cloves...who knows where it could lead you and your favorite flavors...?!

Thai Inspired Ceviche
You can use a combination of seafood or fish whatever you like, really.  I use scallops and shrimp but you could use squid (bodies and/or tentacles), snapper, any combination or just use's up to you!

3/4 lb of seafood, total
1/2 cup plain coconut water (not milk! and easily found at Whole Foods in the water section)
1 tsp grated lime zest
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 small red onion, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 to 1 whole jalapeno, minced and seeded
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 - 3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp golden brown sugar, packed
1 heaping tsp Sriracha chile sauce
1/2 cup cucumber, diced (peeled if it's not an English cucumber)
1/3 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut, dried or fresh (be sure it's unsweetened!)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup Thai basil, chiffonade (if you can't find Thai basil, use ordinary basil)

Cut all seafood into medium dice so that each morsel is a small bite. Set aside.
Combine next ten ingredients in a large plastic resealable bag (or a bowl) and mix until sugar dissolves.
Add seafood.
Refrigerate for at least two hours (this is when the fish/seafood "cooks").  Turning the bag occasionally so the cooking is even. You want the seafood to be firm and still tender.  Do not allow it to overprocess or it will become mushy (the acid breaks down the proteins).
Before serving, add the cucumber and coconut to the ceviche and mix.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour into a bowl and garnish the top with shredded basil.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tuna for my friend, Tracey

My good friend, Tracey, is experiencing one of those rites of passage...not a rite for everyone but certainly for many of us.  She has found herself (at fifty-wonderful) on her unmarried woman.  So to everyone who is going through similar circumstances, I share my therapy of cooking...doing it, talking about it and blogging about it.  Certainly, not everyday (obviously) but when there is a time to say something I do and this is one of those times! 
Also, be sure to wander by Tracey's blog - and say "hello". 
Now, on to the recipe...this is a "do something nice for yourself" meal.
It is a wonderfully easy and delicious recipe for grilled it's super healthy!! 
The tuna needs to be very fresh, preferably sushi-grade but stay away from all of those endangered bluefin, big eye, etc.  The pesto and salsa are good with lots of different things so make the whole recipe and save it.  You can freeze pesto, you know...get some of those old-fashioned ice cube trays, divide the pesto so you have some in each cube-ical, cover with foil or some wrap that won't come off easily and slip it in the freezer.  You then have individual servings of pesto whenever you want it.  Just pop it out of the tray and let it come to room temperature in a small container or plate on your counter.  It will keep for months in the freezer!  The salsa is so'll want to put it on everything so it won't last long.

Grilled Tuna with Pesto and Mediterranean Tomato Salsa (for An Unmarried Woman)
You need to make the salsa and pesto before you grill the only want to sear it.
2 lbs. tomatoes, ½ inch dice
6 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cups loosely packed Italian parsley
½ cup loosely packed mint
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp. olive oil (get a nice fruity one)
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
On a cutting board, pile up the tomatoes, onions, herbs and chile. Using a large knife, chop all ingredients together until they become salsa consistency...chopping is a great stress reliever. Transfer to a medium sized bowl and add lemon and lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
3 large garlic cloves
½ cup nuts (pecans, walnuts, pinenuts or any other nut you like)
2/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, coarsely grated
3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
2/3 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
With food processor running, drop in garlic and finely chop. Stop motor and add nuts, cheese, salt, pepper, and basil, then process until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil, blending until incorporated.
One 6-ounce tuna steak, ¾ inch thick
Olive oil for brushing
Kosher salt and pepper
Light a grill (indoor or out). Brush the tuna steak with the olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper.
Grill tuna over moderately high heat until cooked to desired doneness. 1 minute per side for rare to medium rare; 2 minutes per side for medium.
Spoon salsa on plate, place tuna on salsa and top with a spoonful of pesto.
Pour yourself a glass of wine (Pinot Noir is great with tuna and these earthy flavors) and enjoy!