Light and satisfying ceviches are typical of coastal Mexican cuisine. In the Veracruz style, fresh lime juice firms up delicate seafood while olives add brininess to balance out sweet tomatoes and a kick of heat from the serrano chile. Use sashimi-grade firm, white-fleshed fish such as sea bass, rock cod, sole, halibut or flounder. If you don’t want to make your own totopos (fried tortilla strips), you can serve it with purchased tortilla chips instead.
Halibut Ceviche with Avocado
For the totopos:
- 8 thin corn tortillas, 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) in diameter
- Corn or peanut oil for frying
- Fine sea salt (optional)
For the ceviche:
- 1 1/4 lb. (625 g) halibut fillets or other white fish fillets
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) fresh lime juice
- 2 firm but ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely diced
- 2 to 3 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
- 1/3 cup (2/3 oz./20 g) chopped fresh cilantro
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 avocado
- 10 green olives, preferably Manzanillas, pitted and coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp. dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1. To make the totopos, stack the tortillas in 2 equal piles. Cut each pile into strips 1/4 inch (6 mm) wide by 1 inch (2.5 cm) long. Spread in a single layer, cover with a heavy kitchen towel or wire rack to prevent curling and let dry for at least several hours.
2. In a heavy fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 inch (2.5 cm) oil to 375°F (190°C) on a deep-frying thermometer. (If you don’t have a thermometer, dip the edge of a tortilla into the oil; it should sizzle immediately and vigorously.)
3. Line a plate with paper towels. Add the tortilla pieces to the oil a few at a time and fry, turning frequently, until light gold. Do not let them darken or they will turn bitter. Remove from the oil and drain on the paper towels. Sprinkle the totopos with salt, if you like, while still hot.
4. Cover with a dry kitchen towel and keep warm for up to 30 minutes in a 200°F (90°C) oven. Store for up to 1 day, in an airtight plastic bag at room temperature. Recrisp, if necessary, for a few minutes in a 200°F (90°C) oven.
5. To make the ceviche, cut the fish fillets into 1/2-inch (12-mm) cubes and put them into a large glass or ceramic bowl. Pour the lime juice over the fish, making sure all the pieces are covered. Let the fish stand in the lime juice until opaque and firm, 2 to 3 hours.
6. Drain and pat the fish dry with paper towels. Put the fish cubes back into the bowl and add the tomatoes, chiles, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to mix well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
7. When ready to serve, pit, peel and dice the avocado and stir it into the fish mixture along with the olives and oregano. Drizzle the ceviche with the olive oil and spoon into 6 individual serving glasses. Serve right away with totopos, or chill before serving for up to 12 hours. Serves 6.
Bring a true taste of Mexico to your table with our mouthwatering collection of down-home dishes in, Rustic Mexican, by Deborah Schneider.