Wednesday, June 9, 2010
How many times does it take doing something before you can call it a tradition? In the case of my mother's shrimp ceviche: two.
Last Memorial Day, the husband and I trekked down to her house for a BBQ, with a soggy rhubarb crisp in hand. I still wince at the thought of that terrible dessert, which slowly imploded on the drive and was not much more than a fruit sauce by the time we arrived. Luckily, over the course of the year, this memory was counter-balanced by the fabulous ceviche my mother made. And this year, she made it again.
I think the recipe began as something she found in Food and Wine, but from the get-go she added her own touches. Unlike me, my mother is very good about annotating recipes with her additions and changes. So this year when Memorial Day rolled around and we began talking about the menu, she was ready to go with the ceviche.
She's named this "Shrimp ceviche a la chalaca," for two reasons. One, chalaca refers to someone who was born in Callao, Peru, which my mother happened to be. Yes, she is of Scandinavian descent. But she was born in Callao and lived in Lima until she was about 12. This is an interesting story for another day. Today's story is about ceviche.
Two, this ceviche reminded us both of some of the Peruvian ceviches we've eaten, often served with a delightful array of condiments, including toasted pumpkin seeds, crispy corn or hominy kernels, and boiled sweet potato, among others. Ultimately, this is my mother's take on Peruvian ceviche. Seeing as two years in a row, it's stolen the spotlight from all other sweet and savory dishes laid out on Memorial Day, I'd say she's done a pretty good job. And lucky you, here's the recipe.
Shrimp Ceviche a la Chalaca
Serves 4-6, depending
1 lb. medium shrimp
3/4 c. fresh lime juice
3 thinly sliced scallions
2/3 c. finely chopped red onion
1 large rib celery, chopped fine
1/2 c. minced cilantro
12 small pear tomatoes, sliced or 1 medium seeded tomato, chopped
1 1/2 T. tarragon vinegar
1 1/2 T. olive oil
1 t. dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Optional garnishes: sliced avocado, toasted pumpkin seeds, slices of boiled sweet potato, olives, finely minced and seeded habanero pepper, crispy corn kernels, papaya slices, tortilla chips.
Clean and peel shrimp, removing the thin vein that runs along the top of the shrimp, and cook in boiling water just long enough to turn pink (1-2 minutes depending on size). Drain immediately and rinse with cold water to stop any residual cooking.
Marinate the shrimp in the lime juice at room temperature for about 1 hour. Strain and discard juice.
Mix marinated shrimp with the rest of the ingredients and chill for 2-3 hours.
Serve on a bed of dressed (oil and vinegar) salad greens of your choice. Garnish ceviche as you prefer.
Cook's notes: Diced green or sweet red pepper can be added to the shrimp mixture. Orange and lemon juice can be added to the marinade, too.
Please forgive the photo quality...blame the iPhone.