I promised ceviche and here it is. Now before you start arguing with me about my recipe, let me preface it by saying that ceviche, otherwise known as the art of "cooking" fresh fish or seafood in lime juice mixed with other ingredients, is a popular dish across the length and breadth of Latin America. For that reason, there are as many versions of ceviche, each using local ingredients and methods, as there are countries in the Americas (probably more once we start counting different regions and districts).
This ceviche recipe is a Yucatec style dish, modelled after the ceviche that I have had the pleasure to eat at home in Belize. While in Belize Conch Ceviche, made from the tender and sweet foot of the queen conch snail, is a particular delicacy, I have not seen conch for sale in the fish-markets and shops of DC, so I am using another good choice: red snapper.
It is essential that your fish be as fresh as possible. You CAN NOT use frozen fish for this, it will turn out mushy and disgusting. Be warned, this recipe is spicy. If you don't like spicy, replace the habanero pepper with a dash of mild hot sauce, but the taste wont be the same.
Lyra's Red Snapper Ceviche
This is easily multiplied but makes enough for 3-4 as an appetizer, or dinner for 1 very hungry ceviche lover!
4-5 ounces of skinless red snapper fillet, as fresh as possible and not frozen
one small handful of cilantro (the close, but stronger flavoured relative culantro is usually used in Belize)
2-3 large ripe limes
1 small habanero pepper, seeds removed and minced. (Jalapenos are a milder alternative)
1 small or 1/2 medium onion, finely minced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1. Cut the snapper into bite sized pieces and place in a container that you can cover (I recommend glass over plastic, which absorbs the heat of the habanero).
2. Add the minced habanero and onion, salt and black pepper. Squeeze over enough fresh lime juice to cover the raw fish. Chop and mix in the cilantro.
3. Let the ceviche sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours so the lime juice can do its work, chemically "cooking" the fish flesh and making it white and firm. When the fish is no longer translucent, enjoy with some good quality tortilla chips (or make your own).