Tropical Ceviche

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In the months since the world has been on pause, it has been noticed that globally there have been significant improvements in air and water quality. As I sit on a beach usually highly populated with tourists, I see only a few people out walking, some spearfishing snorkelers, and a few small fishing boats dotting the water. More than ever, people worldwide are remembering the value of cultivating recipes, food gardens, and the practices of hunting and gathering. 

I myself am a part of this resurgence, and am incredibly excited when my local fisherman calls. Today he had a line caught tuna. Now of course, tuna is not a fish I want to eat regularly. It has been seriously overfished. You will either find yourself eating meat from an apex predator which has accumulated heavy metals and other toxins, or a much younger fish which is cleaner but may not yet have reached breeding age. Tuna can live up to 50 years and grow to 4.6 meters long! However, I do love it as a treat from time to time, especially fresh off the line. 

If you decide that you do not want to eat tuna, you can use other wild saltwater fish, but you will need to make sure that it is properly frozen (below 4 degrees Fahrenheit) before eating it raw. This ensures that on the rare chance the fish has parasites that have burrowed into the meat that they will be killed before you consume that meat. You will also want to make sure that the fish has been killed and bled properly for the same reason. The easiest way to do this is buy “sushi” or “sashimi” grade fish from the market, which means the seller has deemed it safe to eat raw. Once that is done, it is simple to prepare safely. If you are still deterred, simply prepare the tropical ceviche, a delicious vegan alternative!

At a Glance

Challenge Weeks: 1 & 13.

Seasons: Living WildFit, Fall.

Prep Time: 10 + 30 minutes (passive).

Cook time: 0 minutes.

Makes: 2-4 servings.

Ingredients

½  pound sashimi grade tuna steak, cut in small cubes (or 14 oz Heart of Palm for vegan alternative) 

2 tablespoons coconut aminos

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

½  tablespoon coconut vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

1 medium shallot, diced (or ½ cup red onion/1 clove of garlic)

½ a mango, cut in small cubes

¼ green bell pepper, diced 

½  of a Serrano pepper, very thinly sliced (or ¼ tsp red pepper flakes)

1 lime, ½ zested and completely juiced

8 leaves fresh mint, sliced in ribbons or minced, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon sesame seeds for garnish

This tropical ceviche recipe is so simple to create at home with just a handful of ingredients. The origins of the recipe are Peruvian, so it includes lots of lime, tropical fruit and veggies in a spicy sauce. I have made some modifications to a typical ceviche to make it WildFit approved, and simplified it from any difficult to find ingredients. 

Instructions

Begin making this tropical ceviche dish by chopping your sauce ingredients. You want them to be quite small, so as not to interfere with the texture too much, and to release as much flavor as possible into the juice of the sauce. Make sure you have a sharp knife, and dice the bell pepper and shallot. You can easily substitute red onion or garlic for shallot. If using the fresh hot pepper, make sure to protect your hands with gloves, otherwise a small amount of red pepper flakes will add a bit of heat without the threat of burns. Finally, create your mint ribbons by laying them one atop the other, then rolling crosswise and slicing thinly. By zesting a lime rind directly into the sauce bowl, you can obtain all those aromatic essential oils. 

Making the Sauce

First, begin by mixing the coconut aminos, sesame oil, coconut vinegar, hot pepper (if using), bell pepper, shallot, lime zest and juice, and chopped mint together in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined. These ingredients are chosen to create a full flavor pallet of the 5 flavors, give the dish some color, and to create a distinct tropical flavor. It’s the lime juice and vinegar that ‘cook’ the fish with their acidity, denaturing the proteins to change the texture and make the meat opaque. Once the sauce is prepared, set it aside while you prepare the fish so that the flavors can meld. 

Next chop your mango half into cubes, roughly the same size as your fish pieces or a bit smaller. I used mango because they are in season and a beautiful pairing with the rich fish. You often see mango and fish together, which initially seems odd but actually makes a lot of sense. Mangoes contain enzymes that aid the breakdown and digestion of protein, and they are also loaded with Vitamin C and Vitamin A, both of which aid in the assimilation of the nutrients in the fish and aid in the anti-inflammatory benefits. 

Chop chilled tuna into cubes of roughly the same size. You want the pieces to be chopped relatively small and thin so that the lime juice can penetrate each morsel. When the lime juice denatures the protein, it releases peptides which are potent antioxidants. The largest health benefit is of course the abundance of omega 3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are beneficial for cardiovascular health, brain function and mental health, and reduces inflammation all over your body. The problem is that when we cook with these delicate fats, they often destabilize and lose their benefits. Ceviche, sushi and sashimi don’t have that problem! Tuna also contains many important vitamins and minerals to support bone, glandular, and immune health.

Finishing Touches

To add the finishing touches to your ceviche dish, add tuna and mango pieces to the bowl and toss with sauce to coat. You will know it is fully coated when tuna pieces are opaque and have changed color. Cover the bowl and return it to the fridge for thirty minutes up to one hour so the pieces fully saturate. This is when the fish tastes best. You can eat it the next day, but the pieces will be a bit tougher and taste more acidic.

Serving Ceviche

The best way to serve the tropical ceviche: mound equal amounts of tuna ceviche on top of lettuce boats or fresh greens. You can also shape the mound for a more gourmet look by first adding ceviche to a flat bottomed drinking glass or small bowl, then inverting onto the plate. You may also choose to serve it all in a bowl to share with crackers or mini sweet potato toast on the side. Finish by garnishing the ceviche with sesame seeds and mint leaves. In the photos I also have Ixora coccinea flowers, which are non toxic, but not intended to be eaten as part of the dish. Enjoy this beautiful tropical ceviche, fresh and filling appetizer or dinner on your patio this summer! 

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