Grouper Ceviche with Mango, Citrus, and Cilantro.
Fortunately, mangos grow on trees. Unfortunately, we have to wait all year, watching over our heads and threatening squirrels under our breath, while the little green mangoes turn red and yellow, and take over the air with their intoxicating smell.
Well, summer is here, and with it the South Florida mango trees are being coveted like parking spaces on Lincoln Road. Thanks to mass international transit, mangoes have been arriving from the tropics to our grocery stores for months. But any Miami local will tell you that they have their usual tree, in their grandmother’s, friend’s, neighbor’s, or – for the lucky ones — their own yard. At our restaurant in Grand Cayman, the kitchen is bombarded with them, making for happy chefs. When that first mango falls from above, it is the start of something wonderful, albeit short-lived.
Mangos should be creamy, not fibrous, and orange, not yellow (it is nature though, they vary, some can be purple!) They should be sweet but hearty. They should be so tasty that when you have done what you can to get the meat off, you put the knife down and suck the seed to get all of the deliciousness off of it. They should be eaten raw, with juice running through your fingers, or salted with lime, or grilled, or with olive oil, or chopped up with red onion for chutney over fresh grilled fish, or in ceviche, or with cottage cheese — which we swear tastes like cheesecake, or in smoothies, or daiquiris, or as sorbet, or gelato, or ice cream.
Ceviche is a much-loved dish in Miami, with a million delicious variations. In a nutshell, it’s seafood that is prepared by marinating in citrus juice, which makes the fish more opaque and firm, just as if it had been cooked with heat. I like to keep my recipe pretty straightforward, with grouper being a favorite local fish. If you want to play around with seafood, snapper striped bass, scallops, and halibut are all the right texture. Whichever you choose, it’s important to start with the freshest, cleanest fish possible. There is no need to marinate it for hours or cook the seafood before hand. The bright, refreshing combo of orange, lemon and lime with creamy avocado and sweet mango, exemplifies the balance of texture, flavor, and visual appeal. If I had to describe it, I’d say it tastes like sashimi salsa! For a cocktail party, serve the ceviche in tablespoons as one bites. A little of the kimchi base adds another level of pow. You can sub a good hot sauce but trust me, it’s crazy good with the kimchi!
As with all cold preparations, all of the ingredients should be cold to start. Also take the time to chill your serving bowls to ensure the dish is enjoyed at the proper temperature. For a cocktail party, serve the ceviche in tablespoons or wonton spoons as single bites.
Prep Time: 30 min / Serves:4
Put the fish in a glass mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put in the refrigerator while segmenting the citrus (see note.)
Remove the fish from the fridge and pour the citrus juices over the grouper. Coarsely chop the citrus segments, particularly the orange, so they’re about the same size.
Put the citrus pieces in the bowl with the grouper. Add the avocado, mango, onion, pepper, cilantro, kimchi base, and soy sauce. Toss gently and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for no more than 10 minutes.
Line 4 small shallow bowls with the lettuce of your choice, divide the ceviche among the bowls, and serve immediately.
Note: Segmenting Citrus
To segment orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit, first trim the top and bottom flat so it stands steady on a work surface; cut deep enough so you see the flesh of the fruit. Using a paring knife, cut off the skin and bitter white pith, following the natural shape and turning the fruit. Trim off any white areas that remain. Hold each piece of fruit over a bowl to catch their citrus juices. Carefully cut along the membrane, on both sides of each segment to free the pieces, and let them drop into the bowl. Then squeeze the remaining membranes over the segments in the bowl to extract the remaining juice. Remove any seeds.