by contributing writer Mary Cressler
It’s July, and we are entering the part of summer where it can start to get hot. I mean like really hot! I love cooking and grilling year round, but there are days during the summer where it can be too hot to even turn on the stove or outdoor grill. That’s when I turn to salads or no-cook dishes like ceviche.
Ceviche is one of my absolute favorite summer meals to make, but it wasn’t always this way. There was a time I used to be intimidated by the idea of making ceviche thinking it required a special kind of fish or special technique. Turns out it’s as simple as making salsa (with about as many variations as well).
At its most basic sense, ceviche is raw fish marinated in fresh lime or lemon juice, then seasoned with additional spices or vegetables like chopped onion, jalapeño, and tomatoes and herbs like cilantro.
Though ceviche can easily be made year round, I particularly love it in the summertime because it’s light, fresh, herbaceous, refreshing, and served cold, making it perfect for a hot day. Plus it is a perfect match for several different types of summer wines.
What we have here is a recipe for a very basic ceviche. You can use tilapia, halibut, tuna, or several other options. I like to use shrimp and Ahi tuna for this recipe.
The only difference when using shrimp is that it is recommended to par-boil your shrimp prior to marinating them in the lime juice. It will help with the texture and speed up the process. More importantly this will kill any possible bacteria that may be on the shrimp. This is not an issue with raw fish (like sushi grade Ahi tuna), but it can be for shellfish like shrimp.
- 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- ¼ cup onion, thinly sliced or diced
- 1 Roma tomato, diced (approx ½ cup)
- 1 teaspoon jalapeño (approx 1 small jalapeño), finely diced
- ¼ cup cilantro (roughly 1 small handful), roughly chopped
- zest of one lime
- ½ avocado, diced
- salt and fresh ground pepper (to taste)
- Cut the shrimp into large dices.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Boil the shrimp for one to two minutes, until almost cooked. Drain shrimp and rinse with cold water or shock them in an ice/water bath to stop the cooking.
- Place shrimp in a fresh bowl. Add lime juice, onions, tomato, jalapeño, and half of the cilantro. Toss together then cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Remove from the refrigerator then gently toss with the lime zest, avocado, remainder of the cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste.
- If there is excess lime juice feel free to drain some of it before serving.
- Serve out of a bowl with chips, or in individual servings in martini glasses for a fun presentation.
This recipe also works great for Ahi Tuna. Just start out with “sushi grade” Ahi Tuna, cut up into the same size dice. You can skip the pre-boiling step if using Tuna and just toss together and go directly to the marinade.
The fish in this dish is cooked and served in lime juice which is highly acidic. You will need a wine with strong enough acidity or the dish will make the wine taste flat. It also has some heat from the jalapeño and herbal notes from the cilantro. I like to pair this with wines that represent some of the flavors of the dish; lime and herbal notes, along with some juicy fruit to balance the mild heat, with strong acidity. Chose wines with no oak in order to compliment the bright, zippy, natural feel of the dish.
Several wines will work, including sparkling wine, Pinot Gris (Grigio), and Dry Riesling. Vinho Verde has always been a favorite because of its characteristic lemon and lime notes and bright effervescence. Light, refreshing, and slightly sparkling, and usually low in alcohol (9%-11%) makes it a good match if you make this dish for lunch.
I’m also a huge fan of Albariño and Sauvignon Blanc with this recipe. These wines tend to have nice balance between fruit, lemon and lime flavors, good acidity, and freshness. When I last made this dish I tried the ceviche with several different potential matches, and these two came up the strongest.
2012 Bodegas Terras Gauda Abadia de San Campio Albariño
Rias Baixas, Spain ($20)
Beautiful lime, apricot, pineapple, and tangerine aromas fill the glass. Strong acidity on the mouth, with a slightly salty and mineral finish. Fresh and well balanced, this was my favorite pairing with the ceviche.
2011 Prado Rey Verdejo-Sauvignon Blanc blend
Rueda, Spain ($10)
Tropical fruit driven nose with distinct pineapple aromas and bright lemon, this is a bright and zesty wine. Though the blend is more Verdejo than Sauvignon Blanc I chose this wine because of it’s distinct key lime, pineapple, and lemon flavors that accent the ceviche well. Though this wine had bright acidity, it didn’t seem to be quite strong enough for the dish and began to fall soft after awhile leaving a soft pineapple lingering finish. But with an average price of $10 per bottle it makes for a great summer value wine to have on hand.
A dish like this, along with these delicious refreshing wines, makes those hot summer days much more bearable.
What’s your favorite dish for a hot summer day?
Mary Cressler is a Certified Sommelier, a Wine Location Specialist, and the proprietor of Vindulge: Wine Education & Consulting. She conducts wine classes and events and offers consulting for individuals, restaurants, and event planners.
She writes about wine, food, and travel on her blog Vindulge. Mary resides in Connecticut with her husband, twin boys, and two Chihuahuas.