Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ceviche night!

The story of ceviche night goes all the way back to mid-March, when we took a cooking class at the Institute for Culinary Education. Taught by Melanie Underwood, the five-hour course covered a range of ceviche recipes, from tuna to scallops to bass; our station even got to make mojitos from scratch for the rest of the class. The whole night was unforgettable, and apparently so were our mojitos: a woman from our class approached us on the street a few weeks ago, excitedly referring to us as "the mojito couple."

Ever since then, we've been itching to try our hand at a few of the recipes. Could we duplicate what we made in that professional kitchen? Would it taste as good without Melanie's handpicked fish fillets, straight from Katagiri & Co. on the Upper East Side? There was only one way to find out.

Our guest for ceviche night was our friend Elyssa, who came over with a kindred love for cooking and a fantastic recipe for mango slaw. It was sweet and delicious, the perfect addition to our seafood spread.

The two ceviches we made were a spicy shrimp –- which, to be fair, is more of a shrimp salad than a ceviche –- and a "Thai" tuna ceviche. The spicy shrimp dish, pictured at the top of this post, is bathed in a spicy mayo sauce, giving it an unbeatable umami note.

The tuna ceviche, though extremely easy to make, is actually quite complex. Sesame oil, coconut milk, avocado and lime and grapefruit juices all coalesce and become something new. We ate our fish when the juices had only partially cooked it, a taste we prefer as sushi lovers.

To top it all off, Ali made baked quinoa cakes with roasted corn and green onions. Though all reports were that keeping quinoa together would be a serious challenge, her take on this recipe worked perfectly, and the cakes were heavenly. (We each took one for breakfast the next morning, heated up with some honey on top.)

The night was fabulous, a fitting follow-up to our amazing experience at the ICE. There's no food we would recommend more than ceviche for a fun night at home -– what with the communal chopping, and then the slow, quiet "cooking" process, it's the best way we could imagine to spend a relaxed night with a wonderful friend.


Time: 5 minutes active, 30 minutes inactive

3 cups shredded cabbage
1 mango, chopped
1/4 cup greek yogurt
2 tbsp cilantro
1 tbsp jalapeño pepper
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp honey

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate for up to 30 minutes; serve.

Yield: 4 servings


Time: 10 minutes active, 30 minutes inactive

1/2 lb large shrimp
1 qt water
1/2 vanilla bean, split
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
1 tbsp ginger
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/3 cup finely diced yellow pepper
1/3 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
juice of 2 limes
2 tbps mayo
3 tbsp sambal olek chili paste, to taste

1. Combine water, vanilla bean, lemongrass, ginger, and garlic. Bring to a boil, add in shrimp, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until shrimp are cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove form heat and cool shrimp in a bowl of ice. Once cooled, remove shells and devein. Chop shrimp into 1 inch pieces.
2. Combine yellow pepper, scallion, garlic, herbs, lime juice, mayonnaise and chili paste. Stir in shrimp. Chill about 1/2 hour before serving.

Yield: 4 servings


Time: 15 minutes active, 30+ minutes inactive

1/2 pound tuna, cubed
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 grapefruit
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp coconut milk
1 tbsp soy sauce
4 basil leaves, chiffonade
6 cilantro leaves, chopped
1/3 cup chopped green onions
4 kaffir lime leaves, chiffonade
1 tsp finely chopped chili
1 diced mango
1 tbsp canola oil
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 avocado, chopped

1. Combine tuna, lime juice, grapefruit juice, sesame oil, coconut milk and soy sauce. Refrigerate 15 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator.
2. Add in basil, cilantro, scallions, kaffir leaves, chili, and mango.
3. Meanwhile heat oil in a sauté pan. Add shallots and cook until crisp.
4. Serve tuna on plate with greens. Sprinkle with shallots and avocado. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings


Time: 15 minutes active, 40 minutes inactive

1 1/2 cups raw organic quinoa
2 1/2 cups water
2 eggs
1/2 cup roasted corn (we had some from Trader Joe's sitting in the freezer)
3 green onions, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Olive oil cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. Rinse quinoa and cook with water according to package directions (we used the microwave). Once cooled, place quinoa in a medium bowl. Beat together the two eggs in a small bowl and add to quinoa. Stir in thoroughly and add corn, green onions, and a generous amount of salt and pepper.
3. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray sheet with cooking spray.
4. Spray 1/2 cup measuring cup with oil. Fill with quinoa mixture. Empty the contents of the measuring cup onto the sheet. Repeat for 5 more cakes.
5. Place cakes in oven for 20 minutes. Flip carefully with a large spatula, working to make sure that parts don't stick to the pan. Spray pan one more time before placing cakes back down on pan. Return to oven for 10 minutes or until both sides are browned.

Yield: 6 servings as a side, 3 as an entree


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