Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chopped Ceviche and Sangria

One of the first cooking shows I ever watched on the Food Network was one with Nigella Lawson. She is gorgeous, has a beautiful English accent, and she loves food as much as I do. She thinks green peas are stunningly pretty and she says words like "blitz" when talking about using a blender or food processor. She's endlessly entertaining to watch.

I bought one of her cookbooks and it has a couple really smart recipes. One that I'd always wanted to try was Chopped Ceviche because the way Nigella described it was intriguing. She says she "gobbles" it up because it's so good.

Ceviche is typically raw fish or shellfish (shrimp or scallops usually) cooked not with heat, but in acid (like citrus juice or vinegar). The acid "cooks" the fish after a short period of time (usually 30 minutes or so). I'm a little nervous to serve raw shellfish, even if it is soaked in lime juice. So I went to Coastal Seafoods to ask the experts what they recommend.

Coastal Seafoods is THE best place in the Twin Cities to get fish or seafood. Everything is fresher than you can imagine, and the staff are super knowledgeable about everything they sell. Plus, I swear every guy who works there is SUPER cute. No lie - they're all smoking hot. It's worth the trip alone just to browse and admire the merchandise, if you know what I mean.

So, the foxy fishmonger advised me that his favorite fish was Barramundi, plus it is sushi-grade so it's extra safe for a ceviche preparation (meaning OK to eat raw in case I screwed up the ceviche part). Didn't take much convincing for me to buy it.

Nigella's Chopped Ceviche is very Mexican-y flavored, with lime juice and cilantro. She says you can serve on crostini or baguette rounds, but I used tortilla chips. I thought it tasted very fresh and it had zero raw taste at all. In fact, with the lime and cilantro, it tasted like a cold fish taco - in a good-tasting refreshing way.

I made Sangria to quench our thirst. Last weekend, I had some awesome sangria at El Meson while sitting on the sidewalk watching the world go by and I gained a big appreciation for this fruity yet sort of dry-winey drink. You can literally dump just about any combination of wine and juice together to make sangria and it is basically fool-proof. Plus it looks so pretty in a glass!

Chopped Ceviche, adapted from Nigella Lawson
1.5 lbs Barramundi, skin removed and chopped as finely as possible
juice of 2 limes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
5 scallions, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 handful cilantro, chopped

Let chopped fish sit in lime juice with salt and oregano for 15 minutes. Drain off excess liquid, then add scallions, jalapeno, and cilantro. Mix. Make sure fish has completely turned white before eating. Serve with tortilla chips.

1 bottle red wine (I used cabernet sauvignon)
1 bottle rose wine
2 cups limoncello (vodka steeped in sugar and lemon peel)
NOTE: feel free to substitute any other regular or flavored vodka, gin,or even brandy for the limoncello.
1-2 cans ginger ale (for sweeter version, or club soda for drier version)
Lots of fruit - I used sliced lemon, lime, tangelo, raspberries, blueberries, and a nectarine.

Mix together and let macerate in the fridge overnight. Serve over ice. Eat the boozy fruit when the sangria's gone!

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