Last Saturday I threw a party in my apartment where the signature drink was the mojito (mint, sugar, lime juice, and rum). At the last minute, Scuba made the executive decision to go with liter bottles of pre-squeezed lime juice instead of my previously purchased lime fruits, for the sake of volume and ease. Which turned out to be the right call, since expecting dozens of tipsy guests to squeeze their own limes at the mojito station - in semi-darkness - was, in retrospect, wildly improbable.
So today when I opened my fridge, a bonanza of leftover limes rolled out. I knew what I had to do. For a healthy and reviving late-afternoon lunch with Mackenzie (one of my younger sisters), I whipped up a classic Central American dish: ceviche.
As you may know, ceviche is seafood (raw fish or shellfish) marinated in citric acid--in this case, lime juice. The acid denatures the proteins in the seafood, which "cooks" the raw fish while preserving its sushi-quality tenderness.
My favorite memory of making this scallop ceviche dish was while on vacation in Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. It was the last week of summer before my third and final year in law school. I was vacationing with five others, all foodies and amateur chefs. We had the good fortune to be staying at a cliffside villa carved into naturally-occurring boulders and overrun with magenta bougainvillea. The stepfather of one of the members of our party was a Scandinavian architect who designed the villa, so we stayed, happily, for free. In the wintertime, the glitterati and their yachts flock to BVI as a tropical escape. However, our ragtag group had descended for the off-season, in the scorching subtropical heat of August, when even the locals had deserted the island to summer in cooler climes. Glamorous we were not. In fact, we gleefully called ourselves the "Off Season Free Loaders." One day, when it was too hot for the OSFLs to even consider frolicking outdoors, we raided a nearby grocery store and got busy in the villa's very hi-tech Scandinavian kitchen for our own Top-Chef like competition.
At 24 years old, I was the baby of the pack (a.k.a. "Mosquito Bait") and the only one still in grad school, so I was assigned the appetizer course. The challenge was to create a refreshing dish to combat the subtropical heat. And this is what I made:
- 1 dozen large sea scallops
- 8 limes, juiced
- 2 mangoes, cubed
- 4 peppers (3 bell peppers in red, orange and yellow, finely diced and 1 serrano pepper, minced)
- 3 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
- Squeeze the juice of 8 limes into a large bowl.
- Rinse the large sea scallops, remove the abductor muscle, and slice into quarters.
- Marinate the sea scallops in lime juice in fridge for 2 hrs. (or overnight) until scallops are opaque.
- Cut the mangos and dice into 1/2 in. cubes.
- Cut off the stems and tops of the peppers and scrape out the seeds.
- Dice the bell peppers finely.
- Mince the serrano pepper (my original recipe calls for a jalapeno pepper, but given the recent jalapeno salmonella scare, we're going with serrano here).
- Finely chop the cilantro leaves.
- Drain the lime juice from the marinated scallops.
- Mix all ingredients together.
Servings: 3, Prep time: 15 min. (+2 hrs. to marinate), Calories per Serving: 172, Pair with: Riesling
Copyright Sweet & Victuals 2008. This article and photograph is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.