So, it’s totally true that cooking is like working a muscle. The more you work that muscle, the easier it is to use. The less you work it, well, that muscle gets weaker. If I don’t cook on a regular basis, my culinary creative juices dry up like a sad roadside drainage ditch. Exhibit A:
Who wants to eat there? Bleh. Luckily, the more often I cook, inspiration flows back like a tumbling tropical waterfall. Exhibit B:
Much more appealing!! Do you find the same thing happens in your kitchen? It’s 100% the case in mine. Speaking of which, let’s flex those cooking muscles and talk ceviche. Typically, ceviche is a raw fish and/or shellfish dish in which the seafood had been “cooked” by citrus juices. To explain those salmonella-hazy quotation marks and to quote Chowhound, “citric acid changes the proteins in the fish, unraveling the molecules and altering their chemical and physical properties. When fish is bathed in citrus juices, this process… turns the flesh firm and opaque, as if it had been cooked with heat.”
Since there are just two of us at home and we’re leftover-heavy on the food rotation, I opt to pre-cook my seafood when making dishes like these. It’s a safe option when keeping this stuff on hand for a few days and the classic, citrusy flavor isn’t compromised. This is a “cut it all up and stir it together” recipe- great for busy nights or when you’re trying to use up veggies in the fridge. So! Let’s get to it.
SHRIMP “CEVICHE” SALAD
- 3/4 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cooked, diced large
- 1 bell pepper, your choice of color, diced large
- 1 large avocado, pitted and chopped into large dice
- 1 small container grape tomatoes, halved (the tomatoes, not the container)
- 1/4-1/3 cup cilantro, packed and finely chopped
- juice of 2 limes
- 3-4 tbsp olive or canola oil (taste preference here: olive oil has a distinct, earthy taste; canola is neutral)
- 1/2-1 small red onion, small dice
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced
- kosher salt
- cracked black pepper
- honey, optional
- optional spices, such as chili powder, cumin, oregano
- spinach or salad green of your choice
Get to slicing and dicing. Large chop the bell pepper, avocado, tomatoes, and shrimp. Add these to a large bowl.
If you’d like, toss the shrimp with a sprinkling of your preferred spices. I used a bit of oregano, pepper, and cumin.
Finely dice the cilantro, red onion, and jalapeño. Add these to a smaller bowl. Whisk these together with the lime juice, oil, a hefty pinch of kosher salt, a few generous cracks of black pepper, and an optional drizzle of honey. Give the dressing a taste. Need more salt, pepper, or honey? Go for it. Not enough acid for you? Add some white vinegar. Pour the dressing over the shrimp and veggies; toss gently. Cover with plastic wrap and let the flavors meld for at least fifteen minutes, or even overnight. Yes! You can make this ahead!
Spoon as much of the “ceviche” mixture as you’d like over the spinach or salad greens you’ve opted to use. I chose spinach because it stands up well to strong flavors and won’t wilt immediately under salt or citrus. You do you and salad-green-it-up however you’d like.
Voilà! Shrimp ceviche salad. In November, no less. Now, how to get to that gorgeous Dominican water fall…. Hmmm…. Let’s dance while we figure this out….