Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Green Herb Ceviche with Cucumber

The 2012 James Beard Foundation award winners were just announced. In Austin, we're all extremely proud of Paul Qui who won Best Chef Southwest. This year's Outstanding Chef was Daniel Humm. The James Beard Foundation has been giving annual awards since 1990, and the foundation celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2011. I received a review copy of the book The James Beard Foundation's Best of the Best which honors all the recipients of the Outstanding Chef title from the first that was awarded through the 2010 award. While this isn't a cookbook for quick and easy weeknight dinners, it is a wonderful collection of bios of all the Outstanding Chefs, and each bio is accompanied by a signature dish or two or three from the chef. I probably won't attempt the Hot Potato, Cold Potato, Black Truffle, Parmesan dish from Grant Achatz who won in 2008, but it is fascinating to read about how it's made after reading about Achatz's career. There are photos of most of the dishes, and the salads are all gorgeous and very approachable. There's a Beet Salad with Mango, Feta, Orange, and Mint from Alfred Portale, a Greenhouse Salad with Blue Hill Farm Yogurt from Dan Barber, and a Summer Salad from Alice Waters. I'd love to adapt and simplify a couple of the recipes like the Chilled Honeydew Melon Soup with Crab Remoulade from Jeremiah Tower and the Spice-Roasted Lobster with Buttermilk Chutney from Tom Colicchio. What was most interesting about this book was learning how several of these chefs have worked together or under some of the same chefs at some point in their careers. And, did I mention the photos of the food? There is page after page of very beautiful food.

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.

Herb Seasoning
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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  1. That looks delicious and so fresh! A dish I love.



  2. I found your site on FoodBlogs.com and thought I'd stop by to check it out. I just subscribed to your blog feed and can't wait to see what the next post will be!

  3. making it this weekend..looks so delicious..;)
    Tasty Appetite

  4. That is so beautiful and fresh looking. And how wonderful to have that cookbook and be able to be inspired to cook such incredible and well presented dishes. xx

  5. Ceviche is my favourite ways to enjoy good quality fish...this looks so vibrant, healthy and delicious!

  6. This is such a healthy and obviously delicious looking salad style dish - wonderful :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  7. Wow, this is very impressive. Looks so fresh and the greens are beautiful as well as your photo.

  8. Wow so pretty your green ceviche...like the flavors of the herbs with the chiles.
    Awesome pictures Lisa. Hope you are having a fabulous week :)

  9. I love doable chef's recipes, they have such great flavour (and hehe it's fun saying that you made one of their dishes :P).

  10. Beautiful dish! Leave it to Mr. Bayless to offer a terrific and approachable recipe. I love those chef driven cookbooks for their beauty and inspiration but they do tend to wind up a coffee table books and rarely get the dog eared, well used look of my favorite books whose recipes are adapted to home cooks.

  11. This looks great, I don't eat much mexican food as all we get here is tortillas etc. I love ceviche and this looks like a fresh twist on the original. GG

  12. this looks so beautiful and sounds so tasty, definitely putting this on the must-try list!

  13. how lovely! given my obsession with cilantro and its prevalence in this dish, i can tell it'd be a hit with me. :)

  14. I love how fresh this dish sounds and look!

  15. A refreshing salad like this can turn an ordinary dinner into something really delightful. I'd love to try this really soon.

  16. Sounds delicious and very refreshing. Hope I can find some fresh cilantro to try it.

  17. This would be perfect for summer fish tacos!

  18. Girlie I too have had ceviche on the brain! Must have been that lovely little preview of summer we got last week. Why is the heat a surprise to my body every year? I am so proud of Paul too. I saw him and his girlfriend during SX and resisted the urge to run up to him and make an idiot of myself. But I'm sure I will eventually. And how about his food truck getting a permanent structure? And his new restaurant? Secretly I hope he opens it near south 1st as that's where we're moving. Anyway - this ceviche is lovely and I adore the addition of cucumber. So fresh. Lovely job as usual.

  19. I think it's such fun to peruse books like that. And I agree, so much of the time the recipes are way too complicated for the home cook, although often I just make the center part of the recipe and leave all the extras out.
    This dish looks wonderful. I'm not overly crazy for cilantro but imagine I could use a small amount and increase the parsley. Nice idea to cook the garlic slightly too.

  20. Lisa, I love Bayless' recipes, he's got the magic touch indeed

    your photo could be the cover of his cookbook!

  21. I also think it is interesting that these chefs have trained under the same hall of famer chefs. I love love ceviche and will have to look for sashimi grade halibut! It looks so refreshing!

  22. Very exciting about Paul! I've enjoyed all the Rick Bayless recipes I've made so far and this one also looks fantastic!

  23. Really good post. And I know what you mean about some chef's recipes being challenging for us mere mortals. But they are fun to read about. This recipe, though, I can do! And it's wonderful - love the cucumber touch. Enjoyed this - thanks.

  24. Love cerviche and it sounds like the flavors really sing here. I am also a huge fan of Rick Bayless, so that's about all you had to say to sell me on the recipe, but the photos certainly helped/ =)


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