Ceviche and Fajitas

This summer Jamie and I have been on something of a ceviche kick. (Ceviche is raw fish marinated in cold citrus juice until the acid “cooks” the fish.) Over the past few months I’ve made ceviche with haddock, cod, snapper, fish, shrimp, and scallops, all with varying degrees of success.

Early on, I’d actually cook the protein and then marinate it in citrus — but as the days got longer, I got more and more adventurous, and now I let the citrus do the work for me (although if I use shrimp, I’ll still boil them — raw shrimp is just too much for me.)

Lately, I’ve been focusing on scallop ceviche. (Actually, it started when Jamie and I went to Sabroso in Rhinebeck. They served a ceviche sampler with three different kinds of ceviche, and the scallop was outstanding; it’s been my inspiration.) In the past, I’d sear the scallops for ceviche because they’re thick enough that the citrus can’t penetrate all the way through to “cook” them, and raw scallop is about as appetizing as raw shrimp. Eyugh.

But hey, I have a knife! Thinly slicing the scallops works great — the pieces marinate all the way through and the texture is just what I want in ceviche: delicate, light, and delicious.

I often use fruit in my ceviche (I made an outstanding snapper ceviche with mango and raspberries a while back, but I didn’t write down what I did, so I don’t have a recipe. Argh!!), but when I first made the sliced scallop ceviche, I thought instead of putting fruit in with the protein to marinate (the fruit always ends up mushy) I’d try making a thick fruity sauce to accompany the ceviche. The market had some good-looking fresh Valencia oranges, so I tried those out.

I decided to try and keep the ceviche simple, to better accentuate the sauce. And I wanted the orange sauce to compliment the ceviche, so I tried to temper the acidity of the oranges (there’s plenty of acidity in the ceviche as it is) with brandy and sugar, and I wanted the orange sauce to be more than just orange juice so I decided to try for a sweet & spicy orange-ginger sauce.

The sauce turned out to be fantastic. It pairs wonderfully with the simple scallop ceviche, and there’s never any left over.

Since ceviche is really more appetizer than main dish, I also made chipotle-margarita marinated beef tacos with arugula and onions.

The ceviche (serves two):

1/4 lb scallops
1 small onion, diced
2 limes
1/2 orange
1 tbspn fresh cilantro
1/4 cup white wine or tequila
pinch Kosher salt
1 ripe Avocado
1/4 cup diced fresh tomato

Slice 1/4 lb of fresh scallops thinly and place in a glass bow with the onion. Put zest of one lime and juice of two in with scallops. Juice half the orange and put that in with scallops (reserve other half for orange sauce). Add salt and pepper. The Juice should completely cover the scallops and onion. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.

Remove from the refrigerator and drain most of the liquid. Add cilantro and tequila/white wine, cover it back up, put it back in the fridge, and marinate for another 1-2 hours.

Remove from the fridge, drain again and serve with sliced avocado, diced tomato and the orange sauce (remember to lightly salt the avocado and tomato to bring out their flavor).

Orange-ginger sauce (enough for the ceviche):

2 1/2 oranges
1 inch fresh, cubed, peeled ginger cut into two or three large pieces.
1 whole clove garlic
1 tbspn honey
1 tbspn brown sugar
1 tspn brandy
1 small drop (no more!) Dave’s Insanity Sauce (or other ~amazingly~ hot Habanero hot sauce)

Zest one orange and Juice the rest. Put orange juice, zest, ginger, and garlic in small sauce pan and bring to a boil. As the juice boils, skim off some of the foamy stuff. Reduce the liquid down about 1/3, remove the garlic, and add the honey and the brandy. Continue reducing by about 1/2. Remove the ginger pieces, and add the drop of hot sauce. Stir and add the brown sugar. Reduce until the liquid gets syrupy. Remove from heat, transfer to a small bowl or ramekin, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold (the sauce will also thicken as it cools). Drizzle over ceviche.

The sauce is sweet and orangey and the ginger and hot sauce should give it a warm, tingly feel in your mouth, but it shouldn’t be too hot. It really is marvelous.

Chipotle-Margarita Beef fajitas

1 lb boneless beef steak, sliced
1 onion sliced
grated cheese
diced fresh tomato
1 chopped chipotle pepper (I used the kind in a can that come packed in Adobo sauce)
1/4 cup tequila
juice of 2 limes
1 shot Cointreau/Grand Marnier
2 tbspn fresh cilantro coarsely chopped
3 tbspns olive oil
2 cloves garlic coarsely chopped
large pinch Kosher salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Mix chipotle pepper, tequila, lime juice, Cointreau, 1tbpsn cilantro, 2 tbspns olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in bowl with beef slices. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Sauté the onions in 1 tbspn olive oil until nearly caramelized.

When beef is finished marinating, grill the slices on a stove-top grill (since it was sliced, I couldn’t grill it on the grill outside — maybe next time I’ll try that?) until done. Pour rest of marinade into saucepan and reduce until thick.

When beef is done, assemble the tacos by placing arugula, then beef, then sauce, then cheese, then onions and tomatoes and then sprinkle chopped cilantro, and black pepper on top.