Joshua seemed to remember in Mexico hearing that sierra was an excellent fish for ceviche. I don’t know why, but I was skeptical about whitefish in ceviche after having some rather chewy snapper once; previously, I had only had tuna ceviche, or else various shellfish.
At any rate, we had caught a modest-sized sierra directly after we hung a left from Bahia del Sol and still had a bit left over after a day or so. Joshua used the remainder for a ceviche snack and damn was it good. Those Mexicans weren’t kidding; sierra is indeed a perfect ceviche fish. We all but inhaled the batch and pined for more.
More. Caught right around the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. It can be clearly seen that this fish is about the size of Joshua’s leg, in spite of the reckless camera angle. He carefully filleted the thing to produce nearly an entire one-gallon freezer ziplock full of fish meat.
With eight pounds of fresh sierra, we could make a truckload of ceviche.
* Eight pounds of FRESH sierra. No, really, you don’t need that much. But it’s a mighty powerful feeling to have it, I tell you.
* Onion, finely diced; at least, I like to finely dice things.
* Tomato, finely diced.
* Garlic, finely diced.
* Green pepper, sliced into ¾-inch long juliennes. (For the hell of it.)
* Jalapeno, finely minced. Of course, El Salvador does not deal in vegetables that contain any perceptible spice so sadly, this ingredient was absent for our Santa Elena ceviche.
* Avocado, chopped into reasonably sized chunks.
* Lime juice (I don’t need to mention that this needs to be fresh.)
* Vinegar, we used sherry vinegar; red wine vinegar would be good too.
* Spices if you want: pepper or a bit of cumin.
* Cilantro for garnish. I sadly didn’t have any.
The moment the anchor was down I was in the galley happily waving knives at our veggies. I tend to prefer a lot of vegetables in things so I minced a healthy amount of onions, tomatoes, garlic, and peppers; save the avocado for last. I chucked about a quarter of a teaspoon of salt into the blend as well. (Also, I seem to remember reading someplace that one isn’t supposed to use metal bowls or metal utensils when preparing acidic things like ceviche.)
Somehow the photo-taking process broke down after I got the veggies chopped so this is the last illustration. At any rate, here’s a lovely shot of freshly diced veggies shown against an exotic backdrop of authentic Costa Rican jungle.
Then, I called Joshua down to deal with the raw meat part of the deal. He carefully sharpened the knife (because sharp knives are a joy to use) and sliced a reasonable amount of fish into half-inch cubes (bigger pieces would take longer to cook and we were hungry).
Now to add the acids that will ‘cook’ the fish and mellow the onion/garlicy parts; basically, you want enough liquid to just cover the lot. The ratio we have found to taste best is roughly one quarter lime juice, one quarter vinegar, and half water. Mix this around and let it stand for around fifteen or twenty minutes (or however long it takes to cook the fish). Once the fish is cooked, taste it and adjust your flavors, adding more salt if necessary, pepper or cumin if you want, or more fresh lime juice. If it tastes a little too piquant, you could add a tiny bit of sugar to mellow it out a bit; we only need to do this if we went overboard on the lime juice or vinegar. Now add the chopped avocado, carefully mixing it into the ceviche so it doesn’t disintegrate. If cilantro kept worth a damn, I would have minced a bit to sprinkle on top.
We ate it on crackers with a dab of Marie Sharp’s habanera hot sauce. Cold beer, of course, goes brilliantly with this.