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
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.