It’s almost a joke how easy it is to eat fish around here. Not that I’m the one to land them. My friends and neighbors are far more talented at catching fish. Me, I get by with some cilantro and a lime.
I do alright in the kitchen with razor clams and crab, and to be frank, not so bad at catching those particular critters on the beach and in the harbor. For the larger species with fins and gills, though, I have my friends of the bnb.
When the fish are running I’m all ears for who’s catching what and who has extras. I’ll get salmon from some folks on the Klamath to the south. And when the tuna are running I get a call from a fisherman-friend who comes back to port with a couple hundred fish he strategically doles out to a select clientele. Omega-3 satisfaction is never far from reach in these parts.
This story of ceviche starts when I’m outside with Meg running a hundred feet of drip-irrigation to service a row of laurel we recently planted. The phone rings. It’s neighbor Larry calling from Enderts Beach. Lucky-with-the-line Larry has blown off his buggy garage door opener and headed to the beach to fish. This time he has too many perch and do we want a few. Well, we always have room in the fridge or on the grill for fish so I put down my hammer and nails and get ready for good grub to come driving up the lane.
Now my fishing knowledge is on the rise but still kind of spotty. I lower my eyes when I tell people I didn’t even know fish had blood (something I learned quickly when I started hanging out with neighbors Jolyon, Larry and Bill and saw them haul in their catch and helped, then, with the clubbing and fileting). Now the fish show up and I’m the first to break out the knives and sharpeners and get to work.
Larry’s fish spent the night in the fridge, then gave themselves up for some delectable ceviche the next day, prepared with Rick Bayless’ signature recipe that forms probably the easiest go-to recipe on the web (hint tho: leave out the olives).
While Bayless promotes halibut as the fish of choice for ceviche, us folk in the boonies can’t be quite so selective (others will prefer sole or octopus…hey, it’s a big ocean out there). Fresh filet of surfperch does really, really well.
How it’s done:
Filet your fish taking better care than usual to remove all bones.
Give the filets a nice wash in water.
Dice your fish in pieces, say, half an inch by half an inch and put into a glass or stainless steel bowl.
Add a nice amount of finely diced onion (purists use white onion, I often add purple).
Completely cover in fresh-squeezed lime juice. Don’t scrimp on the juice…cover that fish completely.
Let sit for 10 to 30 minutes for a “just-cooked” and very fresh-tasting dish (tho some will advocate a longer marination in the citrus juice, see Rick Bayless on YouTube; I gravitate toward the science of marination as explained in The Food Lab’s description/recipe). Ultimately, it’s splitting hairs because to me the ceviche will taste damn good even the next day (with apologies to reader-purists).
Pour off half the lime juice and add a handful of chopped cilantro and some finely diced chile. Salt to taste and stir gently. And there you have it. Super fresh ceviche.
Yesterday it was Larry’s pair of gifted Perch that came bouncing down the driveway. Tomorrow, who knows what might come swimming close to my shore.