Tuesday, June 25, 2013
You can buy shrimp at the West Broadway Farmers Market, although you might not want to do so right before a storm takes out power for two days.
That was precisely the dilemma I was faced with last weekend. I had this great shrimp, but no way to cook it and no place to keep it fresh. Sure, I could have used a lighter to heat up my gas-powered stove top. Or I could have brought the shellfish to a friend's house for temporary safekeeping. Instead, I decided to make an adventure out of this situation and also a test of faith to see if God Wanted Me To Contract Salmonella. (He didn't, apparently.)
Ceviche, for the uninitiated, is a way to cook seafood without actually cooking it. The acidity from citrus juices acts as a cooking agent for the meat and makes it safely edible. As an added bonus, it is carbohydrate free, lactose free, gluten free (I think; I'm not really sure what gluten is), it doesn't contain red meat or pork, it's not cooked, and it can be made without shellfish if one so desires. It's basically a dish that can be prepared in a way that meets the standards of almost any dietary fad and offends no one. Except vegans. And Ted Nugent. Anything that ticks off both has got to be delicious, right?
So I prepared the ceviche and then stored some in my freezer and a little bit in the fridge to keep me tided over during the blackout. Everything in this recipe was found either at the West Broadway Farmers Market, the Broadway Cub, or my own backyard garden. The herbs from my garden are not traditional ceviche seasonings, but they were what I had available. And just because you might want to copy my recipe, don't think you can come by and take the herbs from my house. You'll have to buy them from the market's aggregate table.
To make "Blackout Ceviche," you take...
...1 pound of shrimp
1.5 pounds of tilapia
and marinade them in the freshly-squeezed juice of
Before juicing the citrus, grate the rinds slightly for orange, lemon, and lime zest, and set aside.
While the fish and citrus juice are marinading, dice the following:
4 bell peppers
3 vine-on tomatoes
1 large red onion
1 head of garlic
6 red Fresno chili peppers
3 habanero peppers
(A recipe website for White People With Overly Sensitive Taste Buds recommends just 1/4 habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper for what amounts to be about five pounds of fish and veggies. But when it comes to hot peppers, I am not normal--with varying results, I might add.)
By now the fish has been soaking for 30-45 minutes. Mix it with the chopped veggies.
I then went outside and filled a bowl with fresh cilantro, oregano, terragon, basil, sage, and curry. Again, some of these are not traditional ceviche herbs but I was going with what I had available to make it entirely fresh. The curry and sage made for an especially interesting variation on the dish. I chopped the herbs and added them and four avocados as a garnish, and let the entire concoction settle for 2-3 hours--in my fridge that had no power at the time.
The citrus juice and hot peppers accomplished the dual feat of keeping the fish edible and the avocados from turning brownish, even days after the food was prepared. Although power was restored within twelve hours of the ceviche preparation.
And that's how to keep shrimp fresh and edible during a power outage.