Ceviche and Cerveza
I didn’t learn how to ride a bike, how to fish or how to weld from my dad. My mom, fiancé and the Mesa Arts Center took care of those things. Considering the sad state of my Huffy, the $15 Wal-Mart fishing pole (that has been used only once) and the dusty and neglected state of my acetylene torch, I’m not sure these were life-long lessons. But on hot summer days, I’m reminded about two very important and valuable things that I did learn from my dad: how to make ceviche and the proper way to drink Tecate.
Neither of these lessons were difficult to learn. There was no set recipe to write down; we just made ceviche together while he told me stories about life and food. Some of the stories were of how my dad worked in a bakery as a teenager to put himself through school. Some were of why you should never eat marranitos (pig-shaped cookies that are made with the dough cuttings of everything else). Others were of eating cantaloupes with vanilla ice cream in school for Children’s Day. Half the time, my dad can’t remember what he did five minutes after he did it. Yet he clearly remembers watching his grandmother roast her own coffee in a clay pot over a wood fire, finishing it with sugar and allowing it to caramelize.
Years from now I will tell stories of learning how to make ceviche from my dad; of cutting the fish into uniform little squares, of juicing so many key limes (far, far more than I thought I would need), of chopping onions, tomato, cucumbers, cilantro, and serranos. But there’s no recipe, there’s only the result that you are looking for: delicate and colorful, bright and refreshing, the only thing you want to eat in a relentlessly hot Sonoran desert afternoon. I probably got a shrug when I asked how long to marinate the fish, having at one point thought that cooking was about timers and specific quantities. “Until the lime juice turns milky. Any less and the fish will still be raw. Any more and it will turn rubbery,” was dad’s answer. As it turns out, thethe right amount of time is about an hour at room temperature—leaving plenty of time to learn another priceless lesson: how to drink a Tecate properly.
A Tecate in an icy cold can is the only Mexican beer one should drink with a lime–not for flavo and not out of lime-loving habit. Because Tecate was the first canned beer in Mexico, there were worries about rust and bacteria inside the tin cans. Lime juice and salt were sprinkled on the top of the can (never directly inside) and mixed when you drank to kill off any danger.
Or so said the dads drinking beer with their daughters while teaching them how to make ceviche.
Minerva Orduno is a Valley chef and owner of Muneca Mexicana, a boutique food label created to make products that taste like those she grew up eating in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico and to bring attention to the depth of variety in Mexican food beyond beans, rice and tortillas. Muneca Mexicana can be found at Bodega in Old Town Scottsdale as well as online this fall. For more information, contact Orduno at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ceviche with Tecate
Serves 4 as a meal
2 lbs. non-oily white fish such halibut, red snapper, cod or tilapia
3 lbs. key limes
1 Cup small diced red onion
1 Cup small diced cucumber
1 Cup small diced tomato
1 Cup unpacked chopped cilantro
1 or 2 minced serranos
Good quality fine sea salt (I prefer Redmond Real Salt for its briny mineral taste)
6-pack of Tecate in cans, adjust quantity as needed
Cut the fish into small and even pieces, somewhere between quarter-inch to half inch. Get your citrus press out, get comfortable and start squeezing those key limes, squeezing enough juice to completely cover the fish. Give it a good stir, and place on the counter to marinate for an hour or so.
While the fish marinates, cut the onion, cucumbers, tomato, cilantro and serranos. Crack open a Tecate, squeeze one of those key limes on the top, sprinkle some salt and drink. When the lime juice and fish start to turn a milky white color, add the red onion (the lime juice will remove some of their sharpness). Continue to marinate for another fifteen minutes or so. Drink another Tecate. Drain the fish and onions of most of the juice, mix in remaining ingredients, squeeze one or two fresh key limes to add a brighter flavor, salt to taste. Refrigerate briefly and serve on tostadas with hot sauce (Salsa Huichol is my personal favorite for ceviche).
Written by Minerva Orduno