Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"It's too hot to cook" Recipe #2: Rosario's Ceviche Fina

Ceviche at Rosario's.

I remember my very first serving of Rosario's ceviche. I ate it with my parents, at Rosario's, long before I moved to San Antonio.I must have been a senior in high school, and this trip was my first and only out-of-state college exploration trip. The trip remains a bit hazy in my mind, but I guess I enjoyed it because I moved down here for college. The one piece of the trip that is crystal clear in my memory is our dinner at Rosario's. Perhaps Rosario's is the reason I moved?

The dinner was delicious, and totally unique to San Antonio. I ordered the enchilada's suizas served with a sweet white wine and cream sauce. My dad order cinnamon flan for dessert. But of all the menu items we ate, I remember the ceviche most vividly. My dad was excited when he saw the appetizer on the menu, and explained the ceviche is fish cooked in citric acid, with no heat. It sounded disgusting. In fact, it still sounds a bit gross to describe the process. After all, ceviche is essentially raw fish, soaked in lime juice, and served like a salsa. No thanks. But then the ceviche arrived. Thank you very much.

When my dad and I flew back to San Antonio a year later to move me into the freshman dorms, we ate at Rosario's every single night he was in town. The restaurant is where I take all of my out of town guests. It's the spot I choose for my birthday dinner every year. I like to swing by for margaritas on Friday night after a long week of work. I even make excuses to run errands in the neighborhood around lunchtime to jump in for a ceviche lunch. Rosario's is my favorite restaurant in town, and the ceviche is my favorite dish.

Rosario's Ceviche Fina is a tangy, citric, spicy, textured delight. The white fish is cooked in lime juice until it is perfectly firm. The onions are sliced paper thin and marinated with the meat, as are jalepenos and oregano for flavor. Small diced jicama adds texture and bulk. The salad is served with very ripe avocado to add a buttery, rich dimension to the flavors. The avocado and lime juice balance each other. The best part about it is that it can be recreated at home. Serve it with a bowl full of sturdy tortilla chips and it makes a good appetizer, a snack, or even a light dinner.

Now that the summer solstice is officially behind us and we are legitimately in the sauna known as summer in south Texas, it is time for refreshing food. This means food that does not use the oven, and preferably food that requires no heat at all to prepare. And that, folks, is why Rosario's Ceviche Fina is one of the best meals to prepare when "it's too hot to cook!" It is a heatless cooked dinner. Enjoy.

Rosario's Ceviche Fina

Recipe amendments in red as of 7/09/08. We made this again this weekend and realized I omitted some key ingredients and included some wonky instructions in the first round. Whoops.

1 pound fresh tilapia fillets, cut into strips 2 inches long by 1/4 inch wide
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
3 serrano chilies, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup diced jicama
1/2 cup cilantro, torn by hand
2-3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or a chili-spiced olive oil like Spanish if you have it
1 large avocado, diced or sliced for garnish
tostada chips

Place the fish in a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl and add lime juice, serrano chilies, onion, jicama, salt, pepper and oregano. Add cilantro and thin sliced garlic, toss into the mix and let it marinate with everything else. Mix ingredients gently and marinate in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes. Then place the mixture in a strainer to drain off excess lime juice. Rinse thoroughly in cold water. (Don't do this, what was I thinking when I wrote this?!?!) Toss mixture in olive oil and season to taste. If desired, removed garlic slices before serving. Serve on chips with slices of avocado.

*NOTE * We prepared this in an afternoon and ate if for dinner a few hours later. We stored our leftovers in a plastic container and ate the rest the next day for dinner. I prefered the leftovers, as the fish was firmer and the flavors more developed. Experiment with your prefered cooking time. Less time will yield a softer and more flavorful fish, more time will yeild a firm fish and strong salsa flavor.


Carla said...

I have never understood the ceviche concept. Isn't "cooked" in lime juice an oxymoron?

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this recipe. Rosario's is also my favorite restaurant and this dish is my favorite (along with the enchiladas de mole).