Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tres Ceviches from Oceana




Come holiday season and it seems that everything on our plates is filled with butter, cream, big carbs, and big meats. And, yes, we love it. But how about adding something to your holiday buffet that's a little lighter, a little fresher, and--okay--healthier. And yet still packed with flavor and bright festive color!

Yup, I'm talking ceviche. Fresh seafood married with acid to cure it and mixed together with fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices. Irresistible, right? Absolutely. We tend to think of ceviche as a summer dish because it's so light. But there's no reason not to serve it over the holidays.

I visited the new Oceana Coastal Kitchen at the Catamaran in Pacific Beach recently and got a marvelous tutorial from executive chef Steven Riemer. Riemer doesn't have the high profile of many of San Diego's chefs, but his 25 years as a chef include working with Jeff Jackson at A.R. Valentien at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, as well as 11 years at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, which included representing the culinary team at the James Beard House in New York.

It was Riemer's idea to teach me his ceviche dishes. He loves the versatility and creativity that are part of making ceviches--not to mention that it's a dish that can take full advantage of leftover parts of a fish that don't lend themselves to other dishes. So, ceviche is a bit of a sustainable dish, if you will.


Riemer selected three different ceviches to prepare for me: a shrimp ceviche with cherry tomatoes, cilantro, red onion, pineapple, and jalapeño; a seabass ceviche with mango, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and aguachile onions; and a scallop ceviche with grapefruit slices, and a marinated vegetable medley. All were festive in their colors and offered power-packed bites accompanied by thick, house-made tortilla chips.

If you've never made ceviche and have even been a little wary of doing so, I have to tell you that as long as you have very fresh ingredients, you have nothing to worry about (marinating in acid cures the fish and kills bacteria) and everything to enjoy about the process--which takes little time given the amount of flavor you get in return.

Riemer gave me some tips for how to do it well:
  • Marinate your seafood in a combination of lime juice and salt; that combination gives both a great flavor and kills bacteria.
  • Considering using vinegar instead of lime? Riemer isn't a big fan of this. He finds that it can be so acidic that it can be too strong in flavor and that it will cure the exterior of the proteins faster than the inside. So, stick lime juice and salt.
  • Avoid mussels for ceviches; Riemer says they just don't work well. Clams, however, are a great choice.
  • Also avoid oily fish, like mackerel, sardines, and salmon. They don't tend to look as good following a marinade in lime juice and their flavors are too strong. You can, instead, use them in an escabeche, which is like ceviche in that you marinate them in lime or lemon juice, but then you'll also sauté them in olive oil.
  • The secret to a great shrimp ceviche is to chop the shrimp into bite-sized pieces so they cure more quickly and evenly. Don't leave the shrimp whole. If you want to use cooked bay shrimp, don't turn it into a ceviche. Instead mix the shrimp with salsa.
  • Be creative with the vegetables and fruits you include in your ceviche. Riemer suggests including everything from spicy pickled asparagus and jicama to avocado cubes.
  • Be sure to drain most of the liquid from the cured seafood when you're ready to mix it with other ingredients. This drier version will make it easier for your guests to lift it up with chips.
Shrimp Ceviche
Shrimp Ceviche

From Steven Riemer of Oceana Coastal Kitchen
Serves 4 to 6

For marinade:
12 ounces raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
Fresh lime juice to cover—approximately 2 cups
¼ teaspoon salt

½ jalapeño, minced seeds and veins removed.  Unless you really like the heat.
12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
½ bunch cilantro, rough chopped
Salt and pepper to season
3 teaspoons red onion, minced
1/3 cup fresh pineapple, diced

Slice the shrimp into ½-inch pieces. Place in bowl and add lime juice and salt. Marinate for two hours. Drain the shrimp. Mix in a non-reactive bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Serve in a single bowl or individual dishes with tortilla chips or place on crispy tostada and top with Mexican crema.

Seabass Ceviche

Seabass Ceviche
From Steven Riemer of Oceana Coastal Kitchen
Serves 4 to 6

For marinade:
12 ounces raw seabass diced into ½” pieces
Fresh lime juice to cover—approximately 2 cups
¼ teaspoon salt

½ bunch cilantro, rough chopped
1/3 cup fresh mango, diced
10 drops of toasted sesame oil, more or less
½ cup mango puree

For garnish:
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup lime juice
1 teaspoon white and black toasted sesame seeds
½ serrano chile, shaved

Slice the seabass into bite-sized pieces. Place in non-reactive bowl and add lime juice and salt. Marinate for two hours. Drain the seabass. Mix in a bowl with the cilantro, mango, and sesame oil.

Combine the red onion and lime juice to marinate so it pickles—about 20 minutes. Drain the onions. This is your aguachile onion mixture.

To plate, place a dollop of the mango puree into a margarita glass. Add the ceviche. Top with slices of pickled red onion, a sprinkling of sesame seeds, and a few slices of the shaved serrano chile.

Scallop Ceviche
Scallop Ceviche
From Steven Riemer of Oceana Coastal Kitchen
Serves 4 to 6

For marinade:
8 ounces raw scallops
Fresh lime juice to cover—approximately 2 cups
¼ teaspoon salt

1 Oro Blanco grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
1 Pink grapefruit, peeled and sectioned

For the lime-cured garnish:
½ small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
4 small carrots, shaved
2 Japanese cucumbers, sliced into thin rounds
¼ cup poblano chile, shaved
¼ cup sweet red and green chiles, shaved
½ cup lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt

Slice the scallops into bite-sized pieces. Place in non-reactive bowl and add lime juice and salt. Marinate about 45 minutes, then drain.

Prepare the onions by marinating them in half the lime juice and salt for about 20 minutes. Combine them with the carrots, cucumber slices, and chiles. Add remaining lime juice and marinate for another 20 minutes. Drain.


Combine the scallops, pickled vegetables, and grapefruit in a serving bowl or individual dishes. If you want, you can dice some avocado and add that to the ceviche and then serve it inside avocado halves.


Oceana Coastal Kitchen is located inside the Catamaran Hotel at 3999 Mission Blvd. in Pacific Beach.


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