Light, chilled and refreshing with a toothsome texture, ceviche is summer in a bowl. Add tortilla chips and it becomes a cross between a meal and a snack.
Most people I know eat ceviche at restaurants or on tropical vacations. But it is one of those dishes that, like sushi, folks shy away from making at home. I think that is because it generally is made with raw seafood, which necessitates having really, really fresh fish.
Fear the raw no more! With my cooked version of ceviche — using shellfish you buy already cooked — you can make ceviche anywhere, anytime. Feeling more adventurous? You also could add or substitute baby squid, scallops, rock shrimp or even lobster.
While the shellfish marinates, I mince fresh habanero and serrano chilies to add the traditional "bite" to the dish. I chop ripe red grape tomatoes and creamy avocado. I also like adding chunks of mango or even fresh passion fruit to give a sweet-tart fruitiness to the tangy tomatillo-lime mixture. These ingredients are best tossed into the seafood just before serving.
If you are planning to save some leftovers for the next day, reserve the seafood and add the flavoring ingredients just before serving the second time. The tomatoes, avocados and any fruit will get mushy otherwise.
When you serve this dish, make the presentation count! I like to serve it in stemless martini glasses or a footed glass bowl. If you use a bowl, make sure that it is short or you risk having your ceviche tip over. Add a few tortilla chips around the foot of the bowl and place a wedge of lime on the rim, like a cocktail. Sprinkle the ceviche with a pinch of fleur de sel and dig in. You'll feel like you are on vacation!
While you can use frozen cooked shrimp for this recipe, freshly steamed are best. The easy way to do this is to buy the shrimp raw, then ask the staff at the grocer's seafood counter to steam them for you. Most grocers offer this service for free.