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Ceviche Verde

Ceviche-Verde_Summer-Recipe_Yes,-more-please!

To hot to cook fish? Let the Limes do it. This Ceviche Verde, is refreshing, light, green, tangy, zesty, crisp and crunchy vegetables, tender tuna marinated in lime juice, surrounded by creamy avocados… are you with me?…Yes!

Ceviche is an original dish from Peru. Peruvians are the kings of making the best out of fresh fish. To corroborate this statement you need to know about Peruvian Chef Gastón Acurio.  Chef Gastón has placed Peru, their culture, and Ceviche at another level in his country and internationally, all through a labor of love that started in the kitchen, that for me, no other chef has achieved with his cooking.

Recently I watched the movie “Finding Gaston”  I was extremely moved by his culinary life, the way he changed his course of action as a chef, his way of living, and how he decided to remain humble and rooted by his Peruvian culinary traditions in the kitchen. Through his cooking, Chef Gaston transformed the way he chose to embrace his culinary endeavors. He created a forceful network that helped his country economy. By honoring the relationships with the people in the fields, the farmers, the fisherman, the artisans and eliminating the middle man, he deals and exchange products directly with the working people. In doing so, he not only trade products, but experiences ways of life, and he gives back the respect and full understanding of all the efforts that are involved in their pursuit of craftsmanship. All this labor and these relationships, bonds and enrich his cooking authentically. At the same time this exchange awakens in people a sense of pride and honor in their traditions.

I strongly believe cooking and culture go hand in hand. If you strengthen your cooking traditions, you can pull people together; friends, families, neighborhoods, towns,  countries, all can start in the kitchen. That’s why is so important for us Yes, more please! bloggers ~Ian the photographer and Mariana the cook~, to illustrate our recipes with step by step photos, to empower and give you the confidence that you can cook!…I love it when people start caring, they nourish their cooking habits, and spark some inspiration in their cooking.

You can move mountains with cooking… or little grains of sand… little or big every effort is equally important to me. Cooking creates memories, habits, roots, traditions. You can start creating today. Thats why this movie, was fascinating.  I was really moved by Chef Gastón philosophy of work and how it empowers and awakens the caring for their roots and pride in their craft, in other cooks.

With all these elements in mind, I was inspired to create this Ceviche Verde “my style”.  México also has inherited Ceviche in their own way,  it is a common dish in the coastal towns. It always has been part of our culinary traditions. Mexican Ceviche is categorized as street food with a few exceptions to the rule. Being from Mexico,  Ceviche has its own place in my heart, its the healthy street food for us and a Summer must. I remember fondly  the ceviches in Ensenada, Puerto Vallarta, Todos Santos-Baja California and the Ceviche from my Aunt Paloma.  They are many versions of Ceviche Verde out there, this is mine.

I humbly dedicate this Ceviche Verde recipe to Chef Gastón Acurio!
      “Esperando algún día, el poder alinear y llevar acabo estas ideas en mi cocina Mexicana”… Gracias y Salud!

Ceviche-Verde_ingredientsCeviche-Verde_Yes,-more-please!

Ceviche Verde

Serves 4 sailors 6 mermaids

Notes for the Cook, please when in making this recipe, very carefully read the instructions.  I’m giving you very specific easy to follow instructions, some of my little secrets about how to make the best ceviche at home. This ceviche verde is served with corn tostaditas, plantain chips, or thin salty crackers. It Makes for a great lunch or light summer dinner.  If you are entertaining, ceviche can be served in avocado halves one half per person, stuffed with 2-3 generous spoonfuls of this ceviche will make a great appetizer. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. Lets cook!

1.5 lbs Fresh Tuna, sushi grade.  I used SkipJack fresh tuna*
1/2 cup lime juice aprox. 4-5 large juicy limes
1 lemon, limon real, yellow lemon
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

All the following ingredients finely chopped:
1/2 small white onion
4 scallions white and green parts
1/2 cup cucumber de-seeded, I used english cucumber, 
they are crunchy, skin is thin and they have very little seeds.
6-8 small tomatillos
1 tablespoon capers
4 tablespoons Parsley

1 green apple small diced

1 thinly sliced Serrano pepper
10-12 Mexican Hierbabuena or Mint Leaves chiffonade
1/2 cup Castelvetrano Olives

Garnish with:

Avocado
Limes
Mint
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Serve with: Crackers, Plantain Chips, Corn chips, OR Tostadas

*If you want to know more about different kind of tuna and the safest way to consume it click here to view a green peace full report on the matter.

Preparation Method:

1. Start by preparing the tuna. Place fresh tuna block into the freezer for about 10-15 minutes before cutting. Prepare your plastic cutting board, and a set of nesting wide shallow bowls or platters one with ice cubes and place the second bowl on top of the ice, to keep the diced tuna as cold as possible while you dice it. Using the sharpest long knife you have, cut tuna into 3/8″ of an inch medium dice cubes, about 1X1x1 cm. Place the diced tuna in the iced bowl as you go, to keep it cold and temperature safe.

Ceviche-Verde-SkipJack-TunaCeviche-Verde_Keep-fish-fresh

2. Line the tuna dices in the shallow bowl into one layer, add the lime juice and 2 small pinches of salt. Discard de ice of second bowl. Place the top bowl with the tuna into the refrigerator and let macerate for 15-20 minutes.

Ceviche-Verde_-Jugo-de-Limon

Ceviche-Verde_cooking-fish-with-lime-juice

3. Diced tuna should have white edges and a soft pinkish color, with deep red centers. If it looks like this, your tuna is ready, unless you prefer your fish more cooked, give it another 5-10 minutes.

Ceviche-Verde_cooked-fresh-tuna-in-Lime-juice

4. Discard about 3/4 of the lime-tuna juices. This pink liquid is known as “leche de tigre”, “tiger milk” some people reserve this juice and mix it with hot sauce, onion, cilantro, or coconut milk and  serve it as a little side shoot. Tale has it that is not only delicious, it also gives lots of energy and vigor. I can not attest of this benefits, yet I can say the little cocktail concoction is delicious.  If you feel adventurous give it a shot, if not just stick to the ceviche plan preparation and discard this juice.

What I do know for sure is that this step of removing the lime juice -tuna juices it is quintessential to the flavor and ceviche preparation. Often the biggest mistake I have found while watching other people prepare their ceviches is living this juice in it. Why? well, for many reasons, one is flavor, it makes the dish extremely acid, cloudy, muddy and unbalanced. By removing all this juices you clear out the flavors leaving the fish flesh to shine. Another and MOST important reason, by removing this lime juice, you stop the cooking process so your fish does not overcook and stays on the right consistency and texture. And third your vegetables stay crisp and crunchy, and of course the ultimate reason you give yourself and other people the opportunity to try that “Tiger Milk” …. hehehe…

So, please make sure you remove all those lime-tuna juices before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Ceviche-Verde_Leche-de-Tigre_Yes,-more-please!

5. Now time to re-season the tuna. Add 2-3 good drizzles of a green and grassy extra virgin olive oil, the rest of the sea salt, gently toss, add a pinch of sugar, gently toss .

Ceviche-Verde_How-to-prepare-ceviche

6. Add all the chopped vegetables and herbs, white onion, scallions, cucumbers, tomatillos, green apples, capers, parsley, serranos, olives, mint, and the juice of 1/2 yellow lemon about 1 tablespoon. Toss well and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary with sea salt, . Gently toss well let flavors marry for about 10-15 minutes.

Ceviche-Verde_Castelvetrano-Olives

CEviche-Verde_Summer-Best-Fish-Recipe

Ceviche-Verde-Tuna-Yes,-more-please!

7. When ready to serve, plate the ceviche in a nice cold platter, avocado slices on the side, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with mint, and slices of lemon. Enjoy

Ceviche-Verde_Best-Summer-Recipe_Yes,-more-please!

 

“How we use the power of cooking to transform the life of our people, our loved ones” ~ Gastón Acurio

Want to know more about Ceviche origins:

Check this link http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/04/13/the-mysterious-origins-of-ceviche/

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CEVICHE VERDE

www.yes-moreplease.com

Notes for the Cook, please when in making this recipe, very carefully read the instructions. I’m giving you very specific easy to follow instructions, some of my little secrets about how to make the best ceviche at home. This ceviche verde is served with corn tostaditas, plantain chips, or thin salty crackers. It Makes for a great lunch or light summer dinner. If you are entertaining, ceviche can be served in avocado halves one half per person, stuffed with 2-3 generous spoonfuls of this ceviche will make a great appetizer. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. Lets cook!

Course Brunch, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs. fresh Tuna, sushi grade, Mahi-mahi will work well too. I used Skip Jack fresh tuna*
  • 1/2 cup Lime juice, aprox. 4-5 large juicy limes.
  • 1 Lemon juice, Yellow lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

All the following ingredients finely chopped:

  • 1/2 small white onion
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts
  • 1/2 cup english cucumber de-seeded
  • 6-8 tomatillos
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 4 tablespoons Parsley
  • 1 small green Apple
  • 1 serrano pepper, thinly sliced
  • 10-12 leaves Mexican Hierbabuena or Mint, chiffonade
  • 1/2 cup Castelvetrano Olives

Garnish with:

  • Avocado, slices
  • Lime, wedges
  • Hierbabuena or Mint leaves
  • a good drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. 1. Start by preparing the tuna. Place fresh tuna block into the freezer for about 10-15 minutes before cutting. Prepare your plastic cutting board, and a set of nesting wide shallow bowls or platters one with ice cubes and place the second bowl on top of the ice, to keep the diced tuna as cold as possible while you dice it. Using the sharpest long knife you have, cut tuna into 3/8″ of an inch medium dice cubes, about 1X1x1 cm. Place the diced tuna in the iced bowl as you go, to keep it cold and temperature safe.

    2. Line the tuna dices in the shallow bowl into one layer, add the lime juice and 2 small pinches of salt. Discard de ice of second bowl. Place the top bowl with the tuna into the refrigerator and let macerate for 15-20 minutes.

    3. Diced tuna should have white edges and a soft pinkish color, with deep red centers. If it looks like this, your tuna is ready, unless you prefer your fish more cooked, give it another 5-10 minutes.

    4. Discard about 3/4 of the lime-tuna juices. This pink liquid is known as “leche de tigre”, “tiger milk” some people reserve this juice and mix it with hot sauce, onion, cilantro, or coconut milk and serve it as a little side shoot. Tale has it that is not only delicious, it also gives lots of energy and vigor. I can not attest of this benefits, yet I can say the little cocktail concoction is delicious. If you feel adventurous give it a shot, if not just stick to the ceviche plan preparation and discard this juice.

    What I do know for sure is that this step of removing the lime juice -tuna juices it is quintessential to the flavor and ceviche preparation. Often the biggest mistake I have found while watching other people prepare their ceviches is living this juice in it. Why? well, for many reasons, one is flavor, it makes the dish extremely acid, cloudy, muddy and unbalanced. By removing all this juices you clear out the flavors leaving the fish flesh to shine. Another and MOST important reason, by removing this lime juice, you stop the cooking process so your fish does not overcook and stays on the right consistency and texture. And third your vegetables stay crisp and crunchy, and of course the ultimate reason you give yourself and other people the opportunity to try that “Tiger Milk” …. hehehe…

    So, please make sure you remove all those lime-tuna juices before adding the rest of the ingredients.

    5. Now time to re-season the tuna. Add 2-3 good drizzles of a green and grassy extra virgin olive oil, the rest of the sea salt, gently toss, add a pinch of sugar, gently toss.

    6. Add all the chopped vegetables and herbs, white onion, scallions, cucumbers, tomatillos, green apples, capers, parsley, serranos, olives, mint, and the juice of 1/2 yellow lemon about 1 tablespoon. Toss well and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary with sea salt, . Gently toss well let flavors marry for about 10-15 minutes.

    7. When ready to serve, plate the ceviche in a nice cold platter, avocado slices on the side, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with mint, and slices of lemon. Enjoy

    Happy Cooking!

    www.yes-moreplease.com


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Pan de Cazón Campeche México

Pan-de-Cazon-Campechano_Yes,-more-please!

The first time I had Pan de Cazón in Campeche México it was a revelation to me.
I was traveling in Mexico with two of my best friends and architecture colleagues back in our student days, circa 1998. We were in Campeche on a very honorable mission of developing a great project for the City: The “Biblioteca Universo Maya” -“Mayan Universe Library”. The architectural dream project of every student. A constructive binomial, a Church and Monastery, from the sixteenth century that was going to hold the biggest collection of Mayan information in Mexico. I remember the first day in the city we met people and acquired information, details, measurements, and blue prints. We needed every single piece of information in order to start the project.
Between meetings and planning, the morning went fast and soon enough it was lunch time- “comida”. In the blink of an eye we were guided to a restaurant to cool down. I remember not coping well with the humid hot weather of this beautiful city. Hungry and thirsty, we sat at a restaurant and started receiving some recommendations from the waiter and the friend who brought us. They both made the same recommendation: “Pan de Cazón”.

I heard that, and started reading the description from the menu. Soon I was confused. To be honest the whole combination of ingredients sounded a little cacophonous to me. Pan means “bread” and Cazón is the “flesh from a little shark”, so “fish”. My overheated brain could not elaborate an objective idea of what this dish meant. Our friend was very enthusiastic about the idea of us trying the most iconic dishes from the city. I listened to her description and agreed to try something new.
To my pleasant surprise when the plate arrived I was hit with the most delicious aroma of the warm tomato sauce. The plate was layered with a short stack of tortillas covered with the bright aromatic and silky orange color sauce. A charred green habanero garnished the top of the stack like the cherry on top of a cake, loud and proud, and the perky steam insinuating bit me. So as I dug into it… I can see the layers of tortilla, black beans and sauteed fleshy white fish. My first bite confirmed what I suspected. This “Pan de Cazón” was a harmonious and a conspicuous ceremony of ingredients aligned in such a way that it was absolutely delicious.

Why? Well, to describe the dish in detail, imagine four freshly handmade corn tortillas slightly fried, smothered with silky herbaceous loosely refried black beans (frijoles colados), flaky, slightly smoky, juicy, and tender white fish sauteed with onions and tomato; all stacked into a four tortilla tower, and then sauced generously with probably one of the world’s earliest cooked tomato sauces. Chiltomate is a rustic sauce, made with the simplest ingredients tomato, onions, and chile. Pure pre-conquest Mayan ingredients, roasted, crushed, seasoned with sea salt and sieved until it yielded the most pure, silky, fruity, honest and yet bold tomato sauce.
For an architect and a cook this was a glorious construction of flavor. With my fist bite I understood Campeche. Pre-conquest flavors, elevated on a simple harmonious way. I think from that day and the next 10 days we stayed in the city, I ordered Pan de Cazon at least once a day. Yes, because you can have Pan de Cazón for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner. In my Campeche, you can.

How-to-make-pan-de-Cazon,-Peceta-Pan-de-Cazon

Now, Why you would want to make this dish? I will give you one good enough reason: “People, Friends, Cooks, Foodies, Health nuts, Mommas and Papas, Students, PLEASE! Look for variety in your fish. Eating salmon, tuna, the same fish over and over can make for a monotonous cuisine and also is not healthy for our oceans. Explore other fish sizes, ranges, flavors and preparations, expect great rewards!

Fish do not have to be bland, or muted, or fried, smothered in batter, ketchup and tartar sauce, to taste good. I just have to be fresh. Campechanos have a saying “when fish smells of tastes like fish do not eat it” period. Get the freshest fish you can, search a good source in your city. If you are land locked as I am here in Texas far away from the coast, investigate local markets for the less traveled fish you can find.

Salsa-Chiltomate_Yes,-more-please

Based on this memory I tried to recreate the recipe. The way I remembered, the way I wanted it to taste. I read some recipes but the flavor profile do not resembled of what I tasted there. I had to rely on my tastebuds memory to recreate the recipe. Fifteen years have gone by since I was in Campeche, and if my memory is faithful I think I have achieved a close match. Apologies to all the amazing Campechanos Cooks, is not my intention to disrespect the recipe, it is in fact the opposite to make it as close in flavor as I can with what I have in this location, pure Genius Loci.

I have been cooking in the states for a long time, and I have found that sometimes even if you are using the correct ingredients, food, ingredients and recipes do not taste the same. And of course they don’t! they never will. Too many variables and a different locus. I have found that for example Epazote does not taste fresh and fragrant when it has been refrigerated in transport to the market. Searching for that same flavor, I have noticed that a native herb from texas “Texas Marigold” or “Mexican Mint Marigold”(as some people call it here in Texas) this herb, in combination with dry oregano, tastes very similar to fresh Mexican epazote. And that makes me happier than buying a refrigerated herb. When I taste and recognize the flavor in my taste buds memory and it translates into the food or dish I’m trying to recreate I feel like I hit the jackpot!

I have written some of the substitutions, or interchanging ingredients, just in case that like me, you are in another part of the world and in need to make those substitutions. And also the original herb to be used if you are in the right geographical place to traditionally make it.

What became of the Biblioteca Universo Maya ? Well, we worked on the project for about 6 months, prepared a presentation for the Campeche Governor, went back to Campeche and make the presentation. Proudly one of the best projects we ever made together. Unfortunately the project still on the back burner. Maybe one of these days when the state budget allows it it will be built. Could be that the best is yet to come…Right? Igor, Juan Pablo?…will see.

This recipe is fairly simple. Besides the different components, all of them are very easy to prepare. So hold on tight and get your cooking mojo going because after tasting this Pan de Cazón you are going to be having a truly Austin via Campeche dish!
Enjoy!

Pan-de-Cazon-ingredients

Pan de Cazón Campeche México

Serves 4 or 2 hungry Campechanos

16 –  4”-5” in diameter homemade corn tortillas preferable,*click here for tortilla recipe and tutorial
1 lb. Cazon, aka Dogfish, or Red Snapper, Cod or Halibut, grilled over wood or natural charco preferable, or poached as recipe follows.
2 cups black beans
3 cups Chiltomate sauce, recipe follows.

Garnish with:
Charred habaneros
Avocado slices
Pickled red onions

Originally Pan de Cazon is served with “Aguacate de Agua”. Which its fruitier and less oily. Its hard to find this type of avocado here in Texas, but I believe that avocado Haas will do great.

Preparation Method:

1. Start by preparing the quick pickled onions:

Red-Pickled-Onions-and-Habaneros

Red Pickled Onions

1 medium red onion
the juice of 1 medium lime
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon Sea salt
1 habanero small diced

Thinly slice the red onions, rinse them well under cold water. Place them on a small bowl add the rest of the ingredients toss well with the help of two forks, let them marinate for at least 20-30 minutes.

2. Prepare the fish:

Poaching-Fish_Pan-de-Cazon_Campeche

Poached white Fish with Texas Mexican Mint

1 lb. Pan de Cazón aka Dogfish, or Red Snapper, Cod or Halibut will work too.
1 small onion, half finely chopped, half on wedges
2 garlic cloves halved, 2 garlic cloves diced
1 medium tomato diced
6-8 Texas Marigold fresh leaves or 2-3 fresh epazote leaves.

On a small pan place the fresh fish fillet, along with ½ white onion in wedges, 2-3 Texas marigold sprigs, a pinch of oregano, one garlic, ½ teaspoon sea salt and 2 cups of water. Cover with a lid bring to a barely simmer, and cook until the flesh is white about 5-7 minutes. Remove the lid every now and then and baste the fish with its own broth. Once is cooked, carefully transfer the fish to a plate and save the broth. You will use it into the sauce and when sauteing the fish.

On a saute pan, heat up 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, add the other half diced onions. Sweat the onions,add diced garlic, add diced tomatoes, salt and the marigold leaves torn into pieces. Saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the shredded fish, toss well and add about ½ cup of the broth in which the fish was cooked in. Briefly cook for 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust salt if necessary. Set aside.

Cazon-salteado_Yes,-more-please!

3. Refried Black Beans:

Re-fry 2 cups of black beans along with ½ diced white onion, and 5-6 leaves of epazote or Texas Marigold Mint. Add extra bean broth to leave the beans on a lose consistency. If you need instructions on how to make your black beans check my “Mexican Bean Manifesto”

4. For the Chiltomate Sauce:

Salsa-Chiltomate_Yes,-more-please

Chiltomate-Tomato Sauce

2 pounds Roma tomatoes
½ small white onion
1 habanero pepper
1 medium garlic clove
12-16 medium-large leaves of fresh Texas Marigold or 4-5 Fresh epazote leaves, and omit oregano.
2 pinches of dry mexican oregano, rubb it into your fingers to pulverize and unlock its aroma.
½ teaspoon to a teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoon sunflower oil

The juice of ½ an orange and 1/4 teaspoon of orange zest*optional, the original dish do not includes the orange juice or zest. The tomatoes I bought where a bit lacking in sweetness and fragrance, so I decided to enhance the fruity flavor by using some citrus. Use this ingredient upon the quality of tomatoes you are using.

Roast the tomatoes, onion, habanero on a baking pan in a 450F degree oven for about 8-12 minutes or until the tomatoes are chard and blistered, and onions have charred edges.
Using a fork and a knife de-seed and devein the habanero. Be very careful not to touch the habanero directly with your hands. This chile is extremely spicy and all the concentrated heat is on the seeds. So use a fork and a knife and dissect the chile. Leave the charred skin on.

Place the roasted tomatoes, onion, garlic, de-seeded deveined habanero and the rest of the ingredients on a blender until well pureed. Sieve the pure and add about ¾ cup of the fish stock to wash the reminders of the puree. This will produce the most silky and smooth sauce, the sieving step is very important because it will remove the tomato seeds and skins.

In a small pot heat up the sunflower oil and add the chiltomate puree. Expect splattering. Lower the heat and bring the sauce to a slow simmer. Cook and reduce liquids for about 6-8 minutes until you have a smooth silky tomato sauce. If the sauce is to watery cook it for a little longer, if is to thick add a bit more of the fish stock. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary.

Sieving-the-Chiltomate-salsa_Pan-de-Cazon

5. Quick pan fry the tortillas,

On a pan add a drizzle of sunflower or corn oil, until slightly toasty but pliable.

Assembling the Pan de Cazon:

Layers-Pan-de-Cazon_Recipe-from-Campeche

Once you have all the components prepared and warm,
Start by layering on a plate a pan fried tortilla, evenly spread a tablespoon of the refried black beans. Then add 1-2 tablespoons of the sauteed fish on an even layer. Ladle a tablespoon of the Tomato sauce over the fish, and repeat this layer sequence two more times. Finish the tower with a tortilla. You will have 4 tortilla layers total. If serving multiple plates assemble all the towers at the same time, place them in the oven to keep warm. Keep the tomato sauce warm. Right before serving baste each tower with about 1 cup of the piping hot chiltomate sauce. Garnish with avocado, pickled onions and do not forget the cherry on the top: the charred habanero!
Enjoy!

Pan-de-Cazon_Yes-more-please!

Pan de cazón_Campeche_Yes, more please!

Pan-de-Cazon_Campeche_Traditional-Mexican-Cooking_Yes,-more-please!

Buen Provecho!

Music Pairing: Jarabe Criollo – Campeche

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Black Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos

Black-Sesame-Seared-Ahi-Tuna-Taco-Party

I’ve been craving Fish Tacos. But not any kind of Fish Taco, I mean Ensenada, Baja California Mexico Fish Tacos. The real deal. These “the” original fish tacos are often imitated, and sad to say but rarely duplicated. How can something so simple in principle, can be so hard to replicate? I really believe its all in the ingredients, and the particular sazon of the cook. Have you ever tried the authentic Baja tacos?… If not, please do. Tale says that the Baja tacos where created by the street stand “Tacos El Fenix” in Ensenada Baja California, Mexico. What is so special about a Baja taco? Well let me describe it. Imagine a tempura like battered piece of the freshest morning pacific caught white flesh flaky fish, on a Mexican corn tortilla, light mayo-crema, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, and a spoonful of spicy green or red spicy salsa and a squeeze of lime. The bite is ethereal, crunchy, tender, fresh, savory, acid, spicy your tastebuds go on ecstasy.
I have not eaten Baja Fish Tacos in almost 10 years!, would you believe that?…No?, me neither.

Recreating a craving from a memory of flavor could be a little daunting. I did not wanted to even attempt to relay into my 10 year taste buds memories to try to replicate these unique Baja tacos.

So I opted for a 360 degree of separation alternative recipe to tease and ease up my Fish Taco craving. I made these Black Sesame Seared Tuna Tacos. Sometimes my tastebuds act in a mischievous ways. On these tacos I opted to seared Ahi Tuna steaks covered in Black sesame seeds instead of the deep frying battered fish.

If you never seared tuna before, it is really easy, hot sautee pan, rippling oil and counting 20 seconds per side, just follow step number 4 on the recipe. You will have the best succulent seared Ahi Tuna steaks. The black sesame seed crust its what makes the whole different story on this taco. Black sesame seeds add flavor and texture to this lean flavorful meaty fish. When the tuna steak hits the hot pan, the sesame oil creates a nutty and unctuous exterior coat, while the inside of the steak still pink, tender and fresh.

Black-Sesame-Seared-Ahi-Tuna-Tacos_ingredients

Now imagine this delicious Ahi tuna slices over a hand made corn tortilla. Add the following accoutrements; fine shredded cabbage, quick pickled radishes, carrots and jicama for crunch and texture. Fresh pineapple slices, a squeeze of lime for a sharp acid note, and an avocado-wasabi mayo that adds creaminess and spice it up. Do you read what I mean? Taco catharsis warrantied.

Lets’ do this, To make these tacos you will need:

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Grilled Seafood Paella Valenciana

Grilled-Sea-food-Paella-Valenciana_Yes,-more-please!

Valencia is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. Great architecture, culture, and cuisine gather together in this little gem of a city that faces the Balearic sea.
Throughout history Valencia’s splendid location attracted cultures contributing to this fantastic region character. Moors brought new ingredients to the region like rice, sugar cane, oranges, almonds, and spices. The Romans brought the utensils to cook with. This kind of influences, shaped one of the most iconic Spanish dishes, Paella Valenciana. The original Valencian Paella recipe consists of a combination of chicken, rabbit, rice, green vegetables, artichokes, peppers, bomba rice, white runner beans, saffron, fresh rosemary, sweet paprika, garlic and lemon. It sounds divine, right? And also a little far off from the Paella Mixta we know in America.
I had the opportunity to travel around Spain with my Grandma Ana.  One of the cities we visited was Valencia. We had a blast, and of course every time I tried some remarkable food I wanted to know the origin of the dish. I love to hear about different stories about what people believe and their traditions. For me, this is an enriching way to know a culture; by their stomachs! So I took this info at face value and what I discovered is that Valencianos prefer to make their Paella with one category of meat at a time and not mixing them. Hey, since they are the Paella creators, I will go with their advice!,… And it make sense, seafood ingredients available in the near coast, they use shrimp, langoustines, mussels, clams, and squid. Areas more inland use land creatures, rabbit, chicken. What ever freshest available always taste best.

Throughout Spain, other variations have been adapted for inland areas creating the infamous Paella Mixta which combines a variety of white meats, seafood, sausage and chorizo. But, just remember that Valencians are very proud of their dish and they do not recognize this Paella Mixta as Original Paella Valenciana. So watch out what you call Paella Valenciana unless you want to get in to a heated argument.

Grilled-Sea-food-Paella-Valenciana_summer-grilling_Yes,-more-please!

Every country has their nationalistic pride when it comes to Cuisine, and in this case there is no exception since Paella is Spain National dish.  Every culture has their memories linked around a particular dish, ingredient or preparation that was carried by generations, runs in the family, or evokes a moment in time. And It is admirable when people stand by their beliefs and roots. I do respect that.

I hope knowing all these facts makes you less intimidated, after all they say knowledge is power. I would say in this case, knowledge is inspiration. I truly believe that everybody has a little of a cook inside. I would love to encourage you to be comfortable  with the idea  of cooking and enjoying the process. Have some red wine, Rioja if possible, and music on the side to let  that cook come out. Whether you are preparing the best butter on a toast or a dish with a lot of history and tradition like this Seafood Paella Valenciana, just have fun and be curious about it.

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Honoring the authentic Paella Valenciana, I made it strictly with seafood. We live in Texas, and have some access to great shrimp from the gulf, beautiful fresh rosemary in abundance and delicious Spring vegetables, and Texans know all the whereabouts to build a wood fire and that’s one of the key ingredient on the Valencian Paella, since it was created by people on the mountain.

I took the main components of the traditional recipe and added Spring vegetables like asparagus and green peas. I truly wanted to add some artichokes but I could not find good looking ones for some reason; anyway If you find some artichokes it would be a divine addition, if not, no biggy,  it is a delicious recipe any way. This seafood Paella Valenciana can be done in about 2 hours total including the prepping. It is definitely a dish that makes it perfect for small to medium gatherings. It is a fun crowd pleaser. With this fabulous weather, cooking outside and grilling this Spring or Summer its one of the best things to do.

Hey! Get out your inner cook and just cook!

Olé! Guapo…Let’s start!…here comes the recipe…

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Mariana’s Mexican Tuna Sashimi

Mexican-Sashimi-Yes,-more-please!

This makes for a versatile dish: appetizer, summer dinner, or lunch; place it in any part of a summer’s day. If you just want something lighter, easy, and extremely tasty, with a little Mexican flair, this is your recipe to go!.

Forget for a bit about the tired guacamole and chips or ceviche. I know they are delicious, but this is going to turn on your appetizer-snack light bulb. There are so many other ingredients in Mexican cuisine, and so many fusions that can take place, that this dish stroked me last night and it was a delicious dinner…Yes, yes we had this for dinner, along with a couple of pomegranate Margaritas…if you want the recipe for them leave me a comment and I will post it next week…

Let me introduce you to my version of Mexican Tuna Sashimi. In Mexico there is a kind of sashimi preparation named Agua chile. Agua Chile is a quick appetizer in which shrimp, octopus, are partially cooked in lime juice and a fresh serrano pepper and a couple of dashes of a well known dark sauce seasoning starting with “M” are added. It is ridiculously simple and delicious.

With this Agua chile dish in mind and Masaharu Morimoto whispering in my ear: “Tuna Sashimi”~
I fused a couple of ideas and created this scrumptious appetizer, summer lunch, Desperate Housewives re-runs, or foodie football game night.

Mexican-Sashimi-ready-to-eat!

For the recipe sushi grade tuna, a crisp English cucumber, creamy avocado, red onion, lemon juice, soy sauce are plated and combined with my weapon of choice: a red toasted chile de arbol oil sauce. To add some fun and crunch factor, Kettle potato chips or some salty crispy rice chips are delicious on the side to complement the ingredients in this crazy adventure.

The result is a cosmic bite that takes you to Japan and back to play at a mariachi band! Please, you must try this. Share and repeat.

You will find your self craving this appetizer often. Just like we now do…

Mexican-Sashimi_Ingredients

Mariana’s Mexican Tuna Sashimi

Serves 2 or 4.

½ lb tuna steak, sashimi quality, from sustainable sources, ask your fishmonger for best available.
½ English cucumber thinly sliced
½ small red onion thinly sliced
½ Mexican Hass avocado
1 lemon
1-2 teaspoons mirin
2 teaspoons tamari sauce or soy sauce

For the Chile de Arbol oil-sauce :

12 dry Chiles de Arbol remove stems if any.
1 garlic clove
2 good pinches of sea salt
¼ cup grape seed oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds.

Garnish with:

2 tablespoons unsalted roasted peanuts
toasted golden sesame seeds.

Preparation:

1. First make the sauce. In a small pot heat up the oil and chiles on medium-low, until the chiles are deep dark red, almost black. Set aside and let it cool. Once its cooled down blend the chiles, the oil, sesame seeds, garlic, and salt until you have thick chili oil. Feel free to add a bit more oil if it is too thick. Set aside.

Mexican-Sashimi_toasted-arbol-salsa
2. Now, place your tuna steak in the freezer for about 10 minutes before slicing, this way it will slice easily. I usually set up a timer so I don’t forget its there and you end up with a tuna lollipop!
3. Meantime, with a Mandolin or a sharp knife, thinly slice: cucumber, red onion, avocado.

Mexican-Sashimi_Slicing_avocado,-cucumber,-red-onion
4. Remove the tuna from freezer and slice with the sharpest knives you have. It can be a filet knife, a fish knife, if you own a sashimi knife you are my idol!… Me, I used what I was confident would make a great thin slices, My Santoku knife…I know a lot of people will be reading this and they would want to hang my neck for this… The only person that I could feel I need to apologize to is Masaharo Morimoto… “sorry Chef… I had to”
So yes, using my sharp confidence knife I proceed to slice my tuna steak. It is very important you follow the picture below, on how you cut your tuna steak to avoid a tuna massacre.
There is just a few points to follow:
– Cut the tip of the triangle that is separated by a silver tissue.
– remove the opposite tip of the triangle, the one that looks darker in color and it almost have no visible grain. This is the most tender and delicious part of the tuna steak, its the little corner that it is closer to the vertebra, therefore its tender. Save it to make two special bites if you want.
– Once you remove the two tips, your tuna steak will look more like a rectangular shape.
– Start slicing your tuna from the shortest side of the rectangular shape. Making sure you use just one slide motion on your knife like if you are cutting air. Sway the knife to get the cleanest cut possible.

Mexican-Sashimi-Slicing-Tuna
5. Now the fun part begins, layering the flavors. In a large plate or platter, start layering the cucumber slices, onion, avocado and tuna. Squeeze some lime juice, soy sauce, mirin, sesame seeds, and little drops of the chili oil. Start another layer, until you finish with your vegetables and tuna.

Mexican-Sashimi_Fun-platting

Note: You will have lots of chile de arbol oil left. You can use it on stir fried dishes, shrimp, fish, or save it in a air-tight container in the refrigerator and it will be good for at least 4 weeks.

6. To finish up sprinkle the roughly chopped roasted peanuts on top of the plated items, grab you kettle potato chips, a nice pomegranate margarita, or any drink of your choice, sake, Japanese or Mexican beer will work too!
And enjoy!

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Enjoy!

Music Pairing: Mucha Muchacha by Esquivel

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Grilled whole Red Snapper + Mint Lime Serrano Pesto

Grilled-Whole-Red-Snapper-+-Mint-Lime-Serrano-Pesto-_Yes,-more-please!

What a weekend we had of great cooking adventures!; On Sunday we visited one great Korean market here in Austin, recommended by my good friend Andrea. It was lots of fun. We found great ingredients and an awesome little food court with the most incredible Dolsot Bibimbap and the location of the Kin and Comfort . The menu looks divine, peppered beef tongue?, taro hush puppies!, mac and cheese with curry, coconut cabbage slaw… we have homework, but well that is a whole different episode, this post is all about the fish.

Our mission was to find a great whole fish to grill. And as soon as we entered the fish market area there he was waiting for us; a handsome fresh whole Red Snapper with gorgeous eyes looking at me. Sold! I saw it and I knew it was going to be great.

Now, how do you pick a good looking fish? I will share with you my must have fish shopping list. When I’m choosing whole fresh fish it must be odorless, must have plump clear shiny eyes, scales on, bright red gills, flesh that springs back and a perky tale. If the fish is missing one of these… I will be having pork chops instead. How big of a fish you should buy? If you go by weight, a whole Red Snapper wild yield in meat almost half of the weight. This weight  tip is a good point of reference to consider, when you are buying whole fish. We bought a 2 Lb. fish and it was good for two people.(in fact, the fish turned out so good that maybe next time I will get a 3 pounder for sure!) At the market, the fish monger cleaned our fish, removed scales, and butterflied it for us. It was clean and ready to cook when we arrived home.

Ian is the fire master at our house so he lit up the charcoal, while I was preparing the pesto. Red Snapper has great flavor and white flaky flesh. It is a little bony but if you follow the flesh grain it is easy to eat whole. For the preparation of this baby, I went for light fresh herbs to go with the freshness of the fish. I grabbed some mint, lime juice, garlic, olive oil, and a little serrano to add some kick and brighten up the flavor. The pumpkin seeds gave a nutty note and body to the pesto. this pesto paired perfect with the charred-grilled fish flavor.

Now, let’s talk about grilling. The grilling style that is close to my heart I inherited from an Argentinian chef, Francis Mallmann. I had the opportunity to meet him at a book signing here in Austin where I was helping to host his Seven Fires book presentation. I was amused by his premise about grilling. For Chef Mallmann it’s all about developing char. Char adds character and flavor to meats, poultry, fish, vegetables and fruit when grilled. I remember the first time we grilled following instructions from his book, and we were thinking all along we had burnt the dinner, and when we tried those charred vegetables it changed our grilling perspective. So since then, when we grill we use his technique.

For fish like Red Snapper when it’s grilled, it develops a delicious crusty salty and slightly fatty flavor, charred areas add deep of flavor and character to the fish it’s just utterly delicious.
If you never have had a whole grilled fish you are missing big time flavor, and a great cooking adventure from your cooking repertoire, I betcha 100% you’ll love fish even more after this recipe.
Enjoy!

Grilled-Red-Snapper+Mint-and-serrano-pesto_ingredients

Grilled Whole Red Snapper + Mint Lime Pesto

Serves 2, recipe can easily be double or tripled if needed.

1 whole Red Snapper 2lbs. approximately.
1 Lemon
1 Lime
1-2 extra virgin olive oil glugs
Sea salt & Pepper to taste.

Serve with: Red quinoa, rice or couscous. Vegetables of your affection. In this case I grilled red onions, red tomatoes, broccolini, and cucumber slices, dressed with lime salt and pepper.

Natural charcoal
A large grill fish basket, with wood handle.
It is so easy to use one of these baskets and also is prevents your fish from sticking to the gill. You can flip it in a more secure manner with out tearing it apart and it cooks evenly and its safer to handle, a great inexpensive grill gear investment.

 

Mint Lime Serrano Pesto

1 packed cup fresh mint leaves or mexican hierba buena leaves
(about a medium size mint bunch will yield a packed cup of leaves)
1 small serrano or jalapeno if you prefer.
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons salted toasted pumpkin seeds
the juice of two limes
the zest of one lime
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt

Grilled-Whole-Red-Snapper_making-pesto

Preparation Method:

1. First prepare the Pesto. Place every pesto ingredient in an immersion blender glass or food processor until pureed. The consistency should be like a loose paste. If too pasty add a bit more extra virgin olive oil and an extra squeeze of lime. Adjust salt and pepper if needed.
2. Prepare your fish. Rinse and wash your fish really well. With a paper towel path dry your fish inside out. With a knife make some slits on the skin of your fish so it cooks evenly.(See picture below)
3. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the pesto in the fish cavity, add some lime slices, and mint sprigs

Grill-Whole-Red-Snapper_Preparing-the-fish
4. Oil your fish basket with a bit of olive oil. Place the whole fish into the fish basket. Make sure to secure the lock.

Grilled-Whole-Red-Snapper_-fish-basket
5. Light up your charcoal. I always prefer to use natural charcoal because it adds great flavor to the grilling and it avoids the use of chemicals that in my opinion when used transfer an odd flavor to the food. The easiest way I found to start the natural charcoal is by using a charcoal chimney.
6. Once your charcoal is hot and ashed over place the fish on the grill. It will take about 6-7 minutes per side to cook depending on the size of your fish. For a salt water fish like red snapper thermometer should read between 110-120F when cooked.

Grill-Whole-Red-Snapper

7. Serve with vegetables of your affection, we grilled red onions, tomatoes, and broccolini.
Serve over tricolor quinoa. Drizzle more pesto on the fish when plated an extra squeeze of lime or lemon, eat with abandon…

Grilled-Whole-red-snapper-Plating

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Eat good, enjoy the ride!

Cooking Music Pairing: Ultra Lounge- Bossanova Ville

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