You know I’m a huge fan of all things local, and there is no fish as fresh as fish off the boat. In Santa Barbara, the fisherman come into the harbor and sell directly to the Santa Barbara Fish Market. It’s fun to go down to the marina and watch it all happen, then take something home for dinner.
Much to my chagrin, I’ve repeatedly tried, and failed, to roast our local halibut to perfection. In these waters, our varieties are less fatty than their Alaskan sister (even Santa Barbara fish are bikini ready)– so that when you cook it, it ends up dry. I’d totally given up, but was compelled to try again after reading The Perfect Protein: The Fish Lover’s Guide to Saving the Oceans and Feeding the World by Oceana CEO, Andy Sharpless. I marched down to the harbor and grabbed that halibut, determined to make ceviche. Huge success and ceviche is so much easier to make than you might think.
Ceviche is the process of cooking fish or shellfish through the use of an acid. Here, I use lemons, but lime is just as delicious. With a bright, clean taste this is a terrific appetizer or main course. It goes great with crisp white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or a frosty beer like Victoria.
Serves (4 – 6 people)
Ceviche can be served as a great first course, appetizer or a light lunch.
1/2 lb fresh halibut, blood line removed and chopped into a small dice
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon or lime juice
(this is the juice of about 3-4 lemons, Eurekas are in season—if you didn’t notice)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
In a glass bowl sprinkle the diced halibut with kosher salt and cover with completely with fresh lemon juice — give it a stir and let it rest in your fridge for 2 hours. After 2 hours the fish will be cooked completely. Strain the fish from the lemon juice and discard the liquid.
1/2 onion, small dice
1 tablespoon minced cilantro stems (reserve the leaves for garnish)
1 large jalapeño, small diced (taste the jalapeño before you add it to the ceviche and add as much or as little as you like depending on your taste)
1 large tomato, small dice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Gently fold in the diced onions, minced cilantro, jalapeno and tomato. Season with sea salt and taste for additional seasoning.
1 avocado, diced
10 whole cilantro leaves
Garnish with diced avocado and whole cilantro leaves. Plate and garnish just before you serve, so the avocados stay nice and green. Serve with tortilla chips or in crunchy tortilla bowls.
Fresh fish tip: I use local fish, but any fresh halibut will do. After you get the fish from the market rinse well with cool water, dry and place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Put a bag of ice over the prepared steaks. Change the ice as it melts. I like to use fish the day I get it, but this trick will prolong the freshness of the fish longer than if you keep it in the paper the fish monger gave it to you in.