A HEARTY PLANT-BASED CEVICHE
Well, right off the bat I can hear the shrieks from seafood lovers who are aghast to see the words “plant‑based” used as an adjective for ceviche, which, by its very nature, IS a fish dish‑‑and a raw fish dish at that!
Popular in Latin America, ceviche is traditionally made by dicing raw white ocean fish, such as halibut or swordfish, and marinating it in lime or lemon juice to “cook” it. In reality, though, the acid in the citrus fruit just messes with the nature of the fish proteins (denaturing them), causing the protein molecules to rearrange into a more tightly linked structure, changing the fish from somewhat translucent to opaque, just as if it had been cooked. These proud new fish tidbits are then combined with onions, tomatoes, hot chile peppers, or a variety of other ingredients and served cold with crackers or chips, somewhat like a salsa, or even eaten as a salad
SOUNDS FISHY TO ME
First, before anybody drops and flops like a fish out of water at the suggestion of a plant‑based ceviche, I’ll go ahead and tell you right NOW that you can certainly substitute some chopped fresh, raw white fish for the magical fish‑looking ingredient I have chosen for this recipe. Simply marinate the chopped fish in lime juice until it turns opaque, anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes up to overnight in the refrigerator. You can then drain most of the lime juice off and continue with this recipe. Now, do you see how unnecessary all that flopping was?
SO, WHERE’S THE RECIPE?
This is my favorite type of recipe: a “no‑recipe recipe,” because the ingredient list as well as amounts of each are entirely flexible, perfect for adapting to individual tastes. It’s also crazy delicious and healthy for something so simple, and it makes a great potluck dish too! The photo above shows everything I like to use in my ceviche.
It all starts with the “fish”: simply hearts of palm, right from a can! Most grocery stores have them next to the artichoke hearts (they even taste a bit like them). I found this brand at my nearest grocery store.
Side note: Did you know hearts of palm are surprisingly high in protein, like approximately 40% of their calories? Sure, you’d have to eat a lot of these low‑calorie things to get much protein, but it’s the thought that counts, right? Hey, they’re doing their best.
GO AHEAD AND PLAY WITH THE FOOD
Hearts of palm are great fun to play with ‑‑ so let the kids do this part. Each palm heart “tube” will easily split open to reveal a delightful softer center that will shred almost like string cheese. I like to open them all up and pull out the centers to chop separately from the outer parts. (If you don’t do that, you’ll miss out on the fun.)
Chop the hearts into 1/2‑inch pieces and put them into a large bowl, then start to finely chop the remaining vegetables. I don’t like cucumber skin, so I peel most of it off, leaving just a bit here and there for color. Then I quarter the cucumbers lengthwise and cut out most of the seeds before chopping them.
Once all of the ingredients (except for the avocado and cilantro) are chopped and placed into the bowl, squeeze the juice of one or two limes (to taste) into the ingredients and gently fold until they’re mixed together.
TURN UP THE HEAT – OR NOT
Season liberally with Old Bay Seasoning, top with chopped cilantro, and squirt some ketchup over the top‑‑just a squiggle of a squirt to start, because you’ll want to taste it before adding more. I don’t use very much ‑‑ maybe just a tablespoon or three. Gently fold the cilantro and ketchup into the rest of the ingredients. Also add hot sauce or red pepper flakes if you like it spicy. Taste and adjust seasonings. It’s all up to you‑‑make it how you like it!
At this point, you can refrigerate the dish for several hours or overnight to let the ingredients have a fiesta and mingle. It helps develop the flavor throughout.
Finally, just before serving, add diced avocado (lots‑‑they are what life is all about). If you’re serving this for a crowd, wait for all the cheering to stop before shouting, “¡Olé!”
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How did it turn out? Do you have a version or alternate ingredients you want to comment about? Please share!