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Ceviche: Fish as Cocktail

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Ceviche is an ancient form of curing fish that has gained wide popularity in restaurants around the world. In many South American countries it is basically the staple food of their cuisine. The science behind making a ceviche is pretty simple; no real cooking is done. The “cooking” of the fish takes place when acid causes the proteins in the fish to denature, which pickles the fish without heat.  There is absolutely minimal change in the actual flavor of the fish using this method. When we cook, chemical reactions happen that alter the original flavor of the food being cooked. This is why a fresh, expertly prepared ceviche is about as clean an ocean flavor as you could ever eat. The fish must be really fresh or the course certainly loses its appeal quickly.

Ceviche can be made with other seafood proteins such as scallops, squid, and shrimp. Hand-dived sea scallop ceviche is incredibly tender and pleasant. Be sure to only purchase fresh chemical-free scallops in the shell. Moreover, purchasing a scallop in its shell is a great way to ensure freshness. Once the scallop is shucked, keep it cool in the refrigerator as you prepare the ingredients. Combine with the acid and allow the scallop to “cook” in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Cleaned squid bodies cut into pearly white rings combined with a tangy citrus sauce makes a gorgeous ceviche. Squid must be quickly blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds before adding the citrus. Lastly, shrimp can also do well with a flash blanch in water to firm up before “cooking” in citrus.

Sablefish is my absolute favorite fish to eat. Many times it is referred to as black cod; however it is not a member of the cod family. The flesh of this fish is similar to Patagonian Toothfish, or Chilean sea bass, given its creamy fat content. Sablefish, caught mostly in Alaska, is one of our most sustainable fish to consume. Unfortunately, living in South Florida I have no local access to purchase this fish. Luckily, there are numerous reputable online outlets like Marx Foods, where you can have the fish shipped overnight. The dish pictured below is a concept course where I married my favorite fish with a very popular cocktail from my family’s homeland.

Mojito is a Cuban drink that has taken the world by storm. The traditional recipe is basically simple syrup, mint, light Cuban rum, dark Cuban rum, and fresh lime juice. The adoption of the drink worldwide has brought to light amazingly creative new renditions. Since the drink has an acid component I think it lends itself perfectly for making a ceviche. Serve this refreshing course at your next dinner party and you’ll be an absolute superstar.

Sablefish Mojito Ceviche

For the Sablefish:,

8 oz fresh Sablefish fillet – (skinless)
1 leek – sliced thin on a mandoline (white & light green parts only)

For the Mojito:
1 fluid ounce fresh lime juice
1 fluid ounce lemonade

2 fluid ounce simple syrup – (50% water & 50% sugar)
6 orange mint leaves
2 fluid ounces Havana Club white rum
Havana Club dark rum

1. Combine the lime juice, orange mint leaves, and simple syrup in a glass
2. Crush with a pestle
3. Add the white rum and lemonade and stir.
4. Top off with some dark rum.

On a clean work surface, slice the fish into thin strips. In a non-reactive dish, lay down the fish and leeks. Cover with the Mojito. Cover the dish with plastic wrap. Allow the fish to “cook” in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

For the Garnish:
1 Granny Smith apple – cut into matchsticks
3 large strawberries – sliced thin on a mandoline
Orange mint – small chop

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About Lazaro Cooks

  • Absolutely brilliant!! You never fail to amaze and delight, and this ceviche is no exception. Who else but you would have thought to combine a cocktail with fish? Bravo!!

    The presentation is almost pristine and absolutely breathtaking!

    I am so inspired, I’m trotting off to 7 Eleven to pick up some lime juice and soda water for some late Friday night Mojitos with the hubster 😉

    The fish will have to wait till another day, I’m afraid….

  • You know a lot about fish! (obviously) Not only do I learn information about sustainable fish, but also a great creative recipe!

    I had ceviche at a contemporary Mexican restaurant, it was pretty good and seemed to be a simple dish to make. However, reading your article, the chemistry reaction of acid is amazing and ceviche is natural science fix!

    Agreed with Denise, who would have thought to combine fish with a cocktail if it wasnt you!?

  • Your ceviche is not like the kind I’m used to, but it looks delish!

  • Cook with Madin

    WOW. Your dishes and presentation always amaze me. I had ceviche before but not the way you prepared here, this is excellent idea. Who would’ve thought of combining mojito and fresh fish as a ceviche.

    I love mojito, I probably drink it up first before it ends up to the fish. lol

  • Super! So intriguing! And I love how you topped off the white rum with a dark. I will try that.

    Last year, Top Chef was accused of presenting too many ceviches. Even if there were, I never really got a clear understanding of what it was. Now I do.


  • Mojito Ceviche! That is such an awesome idea, Lazaro. I’ll have to keep this in mind the next time I have some really fresh fish around. And speaking of that, your’e right. Ceviche is so incredibly wonderful, but it does quickly lose appeal when one notices the seafood used is not fresh. I see this a lot around here.
    Better to make it at home anyway!