Fish Tonight: Partner up with your local sustainability-minded fishmonger and make ceviche


In terms of simple-to-prepare foods, ceviché is on the top of the list for making a great impression with little effort. The delicate balance of fish, acid, and vegetables give the illusion of complexity, when in reality, the dish takes just minutes to prepare. There are a few key components in making the dish successful. It all starts with choosing the right fish.


Here’s how to select the best fish:


Start with your fishmonger. Because they live in water, fish are more sensitive to heat, travel, and bacteria than other proteins. Your best bet is going to a source that is knowledgeable about storage, quality, and cut. Locally, we have the wonderful folks at Coastal Seafoods, located in Minneapolis and St. Paul, who are passionate about quality fish and can help you make the best choices.


Consider the type of fish. Practically any fish can be used for ceviche; but firmer, white fish tend to work best. You want to avoid fatty fish such as salmon and tuna. Freshness is key with ceviche as you will not be cooking the fish in the traditional sense. The fish should not smell fishy at all, but almost like the water it came from. 


Keep sustainability in mind. The Monterey Bay Seafood Watch program keeps up to date on which fish are sustainable for each region in the United States. The fish that work best for ceviché and are sustainable in the Midwest are striped bass, cod, and tilapia. Choose sustainable options to ensure the least amount of environmental damage and the continuation of available, healthy fish take a peek at the Monterey Bay "Best Choices" for seafood before you head out. Better yet, this is a printable list that you can carry with you when shopping for fish in any recipe. 


Storage. So, you have selected a gorgeous, fresh, sustainable fish and have brought it home, now what? Ideally, you will use the fish the same day as you purchase it. If this is not the case, keep your fish extra cold in the refrigerator. You can do this by taking a shallow pan and filling the bottom completely with ice. Place your fish on top of the ice (still wrapped from the market) and put in the coolest part of the fridge.  


Now for the fun part, putting it all together:


Leaving your fish in the fridge, you can begin to work on the vegetables and flavoring. For this recipe I used red pepper, sweet onion, cilantro, and lime. Seward Co-op always has fresh, beautiful produce and is less than a mile from Coastal Seafood’s Minneapolis store.


Dice the red peppers and onions in very small, uniform cubes. By slicing the veggies to be virtually the same size, you ensure that the marinade is distributed evenly. Some people prefer the veggies in longer, thin slices, as you would get from a mandolin. This works as well, as long as they are kept thin and all pieces are similar in size. For the cilantro, roll the leaves together to resemble a log and cut very fine.  Combine the pepper, onion, and cilantro into a medium size bowl.


Next we prepare the fish. I decided to use cod for this recipe as I have never used it for ceviché and thought it would be a fun, new way to use the fish. Cod is usually thought of for fish and chips and other fried dishes because it holds up well, so I wanted to try it in a less-altered form. Keeping with the cube concept, you want to cut the fish into smaller cubes, about 1/2 inch long, keeping as uniform as possible to marinate evenly.


Finally, we bring in the acid. The acid in ceviche is what turns this from a traditional raw dish, such as sashimi, to one closer to a cooked meal. This is due to the citrus acid denaturing the flesh of the fish, similar to what takes place with heat. You can use a number of juices, bitter orange, lemon, or lime, but lime is the most traditional. For this recipe, I used a five-to-one ratio of limes and lemon. A good rule of thumb to determining how much acid you need is about 1/2 cup to one pound of fish.


To complete, simply add all ingredients together in a sealable container, making sure the acid covers all pieces.  Place in your refrigerator until ready to serve, mixing occasionally. Marinating times vary by preference, but you do not want it to be fewer than 20 minutes or longer than two hours as the fish starts to fall apart if it is left in the marinade too long.  


Super simple ceviche


1 pound fresh ocean fish such as sea bass, grouper, or striped bass, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 small red pepper, finely diced

1 small red onion, finely diced

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Slightly over 1/2 cup lemon, lime, or sour orange juice (best to have some lime)

Salt to taste


Combine the fish, red pepper, onion, cilantro, and juice in a medium bowl and gently combine together, being careful not to tear the fish. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes, occasionally mixing ingredients together. Transfer to a serving dish, serve with avocado, tortillas, or on its own.