When I was about 14, my parents decided on a change of pace for our summer vacations: instead of visiting Colombia for the whole summer, we would take a shorter vacation enjoying something different and closer to home. Somehow they learned of San Felipe, a tiny little fishing town on the eastern side of the Baja California peninsula. When we first started vacationing there, it was basically an unknown little spot that only retirees and the travel-savvy kept as their secret. Over the years, San Felipe was discovered by throngs of spring breakers, but somehow it has managed to keep its small town feel and unspoiled natural beauty. Surrounded by hot, dusty desert mountains on one side and the sparkling turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez on the other, San Felipe is one of the best places to go if you truly want to kick up your feet and relax. The scenery is breathtaking, the people some of the friendliest on the planet, and the food? In a word: Phenomenal!
Of course it’s not hard to have amazing seafood when you can open your front door and practically fall into the sea. San Felipe’s beach fronts are dotted with hundreds of little seafood stands that sell all sorts of delicacies, like fresh fish tacos, seafood cocktails, and of course, outstanding ceviche. They serve hearty portions of either fish or shrimp ceviche on crunchy, freshly made tostadas and garnish everything with cool, creamy avocado slices. Paired with a cold Pacifico beer and a sweet paleta (popsicle), this, to me, is one of the most perfect summer meals one could have. And because it’s been quite some time since I’ve enjoyed a good ceviche at home, I couldn’t possibly resist the call to help the fine folks at The Sacramento Bee whip up an easy, tasty, and budget-conscious recipe of my own.
You may recall that I posted a ceviche recipe last year using a less traditional main ingredient: scallops. The beauty of ceviche is that you can use a wide variety of fish or shellfish and make each recipe your own, so I rather enjoyed going slightly more “gourmet” for that post by using scallops. Since they tend to be on the pricey side compared to other fish or seafood, that particular recipe was on the “high” side of the Poor Girl price spectrum. This time around I decided to go for a more traditional recipe and used some lovely – and affordable – red snapper filets as the main ingredient. I chose some crisp onion and cilantro to add some texture, as well as finely chopped tomato for sweetness and aesthetics. And as always, I marinated or “cooked” my ceviche in freshly squeezed Key lime juice. I’m a firm believer that this is the best citrus for ceviche, but a nice combo of regular lime and lemon juice also works beautifully.
Though the chopping of the veggies and the fish can be slightly labor intensive, the rest of the process is a cinch because the lime juice does all the cooking for you! After a few hours in the fridge, you have a nice batch of cool ceviche that’s perfect for a light summertime meal. For a fun, low-cost twist at your next party or cook-out, try setting up a “ceviche bar” with tostadas, cool ceviche, avocado slices and cilantro sprigs, and let your guests build their own tostada de ceviche. At just $2/serving, it’s a great way to enjoy a light, tasty and unique meal that won’t break the bank.
Tostadas de Ceviche (makes 6-8 servings; total cost per serving: ~$2.00)
1/2 c freshly squeezed key lime juice
1/2 medium red onion
1 large tomato
1/4 c finely chopped cilantro
1 Serrano or jalapeño pepper, minced1/2 Tbsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Pinch of dried oregano
Pinch of cayenne pepper
6- 8 corn tostadas
1 avocado, sliced (for garnish)
Couple sprigs of cilantro (for garnish)
Chop the fish into 1/4″ pieces and place in a medium bowl. Finely chop the red onion and tomato into 1/8″ pieces and add to the fish along with the minced pepper and chopped cilantro. In a smaller bowl, add the salt, pepper and oregano to the key lime juice and whisk together. Pour the lime juice mixture into the fish & veggie mixture and mix together until completely combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until the fish is thoroughly cooked through by the citrus juice. Test for flavoring and adjust accordingly.
To serve, spoon a generous amount of ceviche onto each tostada, top with avocado slices and cilantro sprigs, and enjoy!