Text by Alison Sikowitz
Photos by Alison Sikowitz, Daeha Ko, and Jen Plaskowitz
I woke up before my alarm rang this morning (uncharacteristic behavior) in anticipation of my first assignment as Slideluck’s newest intern: making ceviche. This dish, which is immensely popular and has its origins in Central and South America, features raw fish marinated in citrus juices and mixed with a variety of ingredients. The prospect of preparing uncooked seafood was rather daunting. What better way to make a good first impression than by accidentally poisoning everyone in the office? To my surprise, the process was less of an undertaking than I expected.
After casting my hook at the Essex and Union Markets, Jen and I got down to business in the Slideluck kitchen. Though our catch of the day was tilapia, any fresh white fish can serve as a base for this dish. The initial, and perhaps most difficult step, in making ceviche was determining how long to allow the fish to marinate. According to many recipes, allowing the mixture to stew for over half an hour was just short of a sin. Though the aggregate suggested that 15-20 minutes was the perfect window of time, we decided to push the marinating limit to half an hour. Safety first! Six limes, two lemons, and a few stinging paper cuts later, we had a bath of nearly two cups of juice for our tilapia.
With the fish chilling out in the fridge, it was time to get creative. Though there are commonly agreed upon add-ins to the marinated fish, such as onion and peppers, each ceviche recipe is different from the next. Who knew lunch could be so empowering! I say that sarcastically, but it really is fun.
Ceviche à la Slideluck contained red onion, tomatillo, tomato, avocado, cilantro, and serrano chili. In prepping our veggies, Jen displayed her knife skills, and I displayed my relative lack thereof. Then it was knives down and fish out. After draining and setting aside the marinade (often referred to as “tiger milk” – pour at your own risk!) we tossed our chopped components into the tilapia bowl and gave everything a good stir.
The product: a bowl of colorful, fresh, flavorful goodness, which proved that a dish need not be heavy in order to be tasty. It was the perfect summer meal. And yes, we now reek of onions. But bad breath is a small price to pay for delicious ceviche.
Recipe adapted from the New York Times Ceviche Verde with Tostadas and Avocado
2 pounds firm white-fleshed ocean fish, like snapper or tilapia
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
3 fresh green tomatillos, diced
2 teaspoons serrano or jalapeño chiles, finely chopped, or more to taste
1 cup chopped cilantro, leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped
4 to 6 corn tostadas or 12 to 18 large tortilla chips
2 firm-ripe avocados
Lime wedges, for garnish