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Ceviche: Fresh Fish and Lime, what could be more refreshing?

After a foray in wine tasting in downtown Santa Barbara for a pre-Mother’s Day celebration, my mother and I ended up at the counter of the Bay Cafe and Fish Market. We opted for the local catch and selected 1 lb of fresh red snapper. Ceviche!, we instantly thought, and packed the fish in ice to take home.

Ceviche, fresh fish “cooked” in lime juice, is the ideal summer lunch. Because the fish is never cooked in heat, it must be as fresh as possible (buy only from a reputable fishmonger) and the dish should be prepared the day you buy the fish. Avoid fish with a fishy odor or an off-color.

The beautiful thing about ceviche is that it cooks while you’re lounging around in the sun or making margaritas. Prepare the dish several hours before you’re ready to eat so the acidity in the lime juice has a chance to “cook” the fish and add the cilantro at the last minute for the best flavor. For a touch of panache, serve the cocktail in martini glasses with a lime wedge.

Ceviche de Huachinango

1 lb Fresh Red Snapper, chopped into small chunks

6 limes

1 small red onion, chopped into small cubes

3 small tomatoes, chopped into small cubes

1 avocado (optional), chopped into small cubes

hot sauce (such as Tapatio)

salt and pepper

1 handful of cilantro, chopped

******

1. Mix the snapper, tomatoes and chopped onion in a medium bowl (preferably ceramic). Squeeze the juice from the six limes into the bowl and mix until the fish is thoroughly covered. If you want, add the avocado at this time.

2. Put the fish/tomatoes/onion mix into the fridge for 4-5 hours.

3. Remove from the fridge and season with salt, pepper and hot sauce, to taste.

4. Just before serving, add the chopped cilantro. Serve into individual bowls.

******

Other great fish markets in Santa Barbara include Kanaloa Seafood, which is tucked away on Gutierrez street near Milpas and has tons of fresh fish offerings (although sadly not that many are local) and Lazy Acres, which has excellent fish (try their mango salsa!).

Photo is of the Kanaloa Seafood counter.

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Posted by on May 12, 2008 in Fish

 

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Cooking with the Naked Chef (aka Jamie Oliver)

Sure, Jamie Oliver is a cutie, but I’d never taken his cooking seriously. My experience with this bloke was seeing him on TV riding around in his motorcycle making food for his mates. I was skeptical about his ability to cook and viewed him as more of a TV personality than a chef.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find out that his cookbook, The Naked Chef Takes Off, offers some excellent recipes, most of which are easy to make (except the fresh pasta section. Fresh pasta is fun to make once or twice; after that, it becomes tedious). The cookbook is written in an informal style; rather than finding carefully detailed instruction, Jamie will tell you to “rip over your basil,” or “throw in your herbs and veg.” The photos are gorgeous — just looking at them will make your mouth water.

I made the Baked Cod with French Beans, Pancetta and Pine Nuts the other night and fell in love with this delicious and quick recipe. The pancetta — salted, cured, spiced pork — drips over the cod and green beans while the dish cooks, creating a warm, cozy and perfectly savory sauce. When making fish dishes, always try to use fresh fish that you buy from a good fishmonger. Frozen is never the same and you don’t want to buy supermarket fish that looks old and haggard. Splurge on the good stuff.

Baked Cod with French Beans, Pancetta and Pine Nuts (adapted from Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef Takes Off)

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 lb French beans, trimmed and sliced at an angle

1 clove of garlic, finely sliced

salt and freshly ground pepper

olive oil

four 8-oz cod steaks

12 strips pancetta

1 good handful of pine nuts

2 lemons, quartered

*******

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place your French beans in a roasting pan. I used a Dutch oven by Le Creuset, which worked perfectly.

2. Throw in your garlic and a little salt and pepper and drizzle the olive oil until the beans are lightly coated.

3. Nestle the cod steaks among the beans, drape the pancetta slices over the cod and sprinkle everything with pine nuts. Place the lemon slices in the pan. Season everything with fresh ground pepper.

4. Cover the pan with aluminum and cook for five minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 12 minutes or so, until the fish turns an opaque, shiny white.

Serves four.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2008 in Fish, Food Reads

 

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