While most of the recipes are somewhat complicated chef dishes shown just as they are served at the restaurants, a few of them are very doable. One of those is the Green Herb Ceviche by Rick Bayless who was Outstanding Chef in 1995. Here in Austin, we're surrounded by many, great Mexican restaurants, and I order ceviche from their menus often. The few times I've made it at home, I went the simple, classic route with lime juice and chiles. This ceviche caught my eye because it started with an herb seasoning made with garlic, serranos, cilantro, parsley, and olive oil. The chiles and garlic were roasted before being pureed with the other ingredients. Some of that puree was mixed with lime juice for the marinade for the fish. I used halibut which was cut into small chunks before being left in the lime juice mixture for about an hour. Small chunks of cucumber were marinated with the fish as well. Just before serving, chunks of avocado were added to the ceviche.
I loved the herby green of this ceviche, the fresh crunch of cucumber in it, and of course the avocado. I have to say, it's fun to attempt to cook like an Outstanding Chef. It's also fun to flip through a yearbook of sorts of some of our very best American chefs.
Green Herb Ceviche with Cucumber (Ceviche Verde con Pepino)
Recipe re-printed with publisher's permission from The James Beard Foundation's Best of the Best.
1/2 head garlic, cloves broken apart
2 or 3 fresh serrano chiles
1 medium bunch cilantro, thick bottom stems cut off (1 cup packed) 1
small bunch flat-leaf parsley, thick bottom stems cut off (1 cup packed)
1/2 cup olive oil salt
1/4 cup fresh lime juice, plus more if needed
1 1/2 pounds sashimi-quality skinless, boneless fish fillets, such as Alaskan halibut
7 ounces small pickling cucumbers or Persian (baby) cucumbers, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Salt, if needed
2 ripe large avocados, pitted, flesh scooped from skin and cut into cubes
Lettuce leaves, preferably butter lettuce, for garnish
To make the herb seasoning
1. Set a dry skillet over medium heat. Lay in the unpeeled garlic cloves and chiles. Roast, turning frequently, until they are soft and blotchy brown in spots, about 10 minutes for the chiles and 15 minutes for the garlic. Cool until easy to handle, and then slip the skins off the garlic, pull the stems off the chiles, and roughly chop (no need to remove the seeds). Put them in a food processor along with the cilantro, parsley, oil, and two generous teaspoons salt. Process until nearly smooth (it will be pasty). Scrape the mixture into a storage container and refrigerate until serving time.
To make the ceviche
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the lime juice and 1/2 cup of the herb seasoning. (Cover and refrigerate the remainder for another preparation.) Add the fish and cucumber, and stir to combine. To blend the flavors, cover and refrigerate for 1/2 hour (for best results, no more than one hour). Taste and season with a little more lime juice or salt if needed, then gently stir in the avocado (save a little for garnish if you want). Serve on plates or in martini glasses lined with lettuce leaves.
Serves 6 to 8 as a starter
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