Set the Net

Recipes and snapshots of life in Bristol Bay, AK

Halibut Ceviche Some things just taste like a party, this halibut ceviche is one of them. It’s fresh and bold filled with Wild Alaska Halibut, minced veggies, the tang of lime and heat of jalapeño, serve it up with a cold drink, chips and a crowd and you can’t go wrong.

Halibut Ceviche The first time I ever tried ceviche was at my In-Laws, my father-in-law Manuel makes the best ceviche I have ever eaten. I swear even with the same ingredients I can never get an exact replica, it has to have something to do with the chopping, the stirring, and maybe, just maybe, the feeling that goes into the dish… That being said this ceviche is a close second that will not disappoint and with the halibut showing up on the docks in Bristol Bay there is no time like the present to give it a try.

ceviche veggiesThe first key to a great ceviche is fresh frozen wild caught halibut. Fresh frozen is important because in nearly all freshwater and ocean caught fish nematodes/parasites exist. The CDC recommends:

  • Freezing (Fish)
    • At -4°F (-20°C) or below for 7 days (total time), or
    • At -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid, and storing at -31°F (-35°C) or below for 15 hours, or
    • At -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid and storing at -4°F (-20°C) or below for 24 hours.

It is important to note most home freezers cannot reach this level of sustained cold temperatures but when purchasing commercial frozen or previously frozen seafood the processors have your safety in mind and you can confidently making poke, sushi, sashimi, and ceviche at home.

fullsizeoutput_1b9cOnce you have safe seafood the next focus has to be texture! Finely mincing your bell peppers, red onion, garlic, and jalapeño’s in uniformity makes a huge difference in mouth feel and flavor distribution.  The halibut should also be uniform in size when cubed, in pieces not too big allowing the lime juice to permeate the fish’s mild flesh. I shoot for 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch cubes. Sea salt, flaked sea salt if you have it, packs the perfect salt taste and brings out the layers in this recipe so nicely. (and… Yes, I swear there is different salt taste hen it comes to table salt, pretzel salt , sea salt, etc. just go with  me here )

Finally the cilantro, a point of great contention in our house – is the flourish to this dish. Even my husband, who is in the camp that thinks cilantro tastes like soap, will cede that without a little a bit something is “missing”. My sister-in-law Taryn and I cannot get enough and therefore add out by the bunch-ful. You’ll find this recipe is much more about ingredients and taste than exact measurements and hard fast rules. But really thats food for me always.

Ceviche Veggies Don’t be afraid to taste and try then add more lime juice, salt, or jalapeño’s if it’s not quite where you want it to be! Prepare food boldly. While there is science to cooking and eating it is a flexible – personal one – that you can only master if you continually try and tweak and eat! The last being the ticket – EAT – find what you love and take notes along the way.

Finally, the order in which you combine elements of this dish and the way you stir can change the appearance greatly. You’ll notice the ceviche picture is almost foamy looking that is because I let Bronwyn squeeze some of the lime juice directly into the bowl and stir versus squeezing the lime juice over the fish alone, allowing it to rest, then gently combing the fish with the fresh veggies. Flavor remains constant but mouth feel and appearance is different than I prefer. We first eat with our eyes, so keep that in mind when preparing. I’ll address specifics in the recipe below.

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Wild Alaskan Halibut Ceviche (learned by leaning over my father-in-law’s shoulder and then trying and trying again at home – feeds a crowd or 4-5 Brito’s) 

You’ll need:

  • 1 & 1/2 lbs Wild Alaskan Halibut
  • 1 & 1/2 bell peppers (use half of each a red, orange, and yellow pepper to provide a rainbow of color) 
  • 1-2 jalapeño (based on preference and heat of the pepper)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 small to medium red onion
  • 1 large bunch cilantro
  • 5-6 limes
  • sea salt to taste (approx. 1 & 1/2 Tablespoons flaked sea salt is where I end up)
  • tortilla chips for serving

To make:

Start by skinning your halibut portions, then cube the flesh uniformly into approximately 1/2″ x 1/2″ pieces. In a large bowl squeeze juice from 5 limes over the fish, turn evenly using your hands and allow to rest while preparing the other ingredients. The fish will change from the clear, white, fresh color to an opaque white as the lime juice brines the halibut.

Uniformly mince bell peppers, red onion, garlic, and jalapeño finely and add them to the bowl once all are prepared. Gently combine using a large wooden spoon or clean hands. Season with sea salt beginning with 2 teaspoons and titrating up based on taste preferences, don’t be afraid to add more if the flavors aren’t “popping” enough. Finally roughly chop cilantro leaves and gently stir into ceviche and taste. The 6th lime may be added at this point if the dish needs a bit more acidity, to prevent foaming squeeze limes into a bowl then gently pour juice into ceviche to combine.

Taste and taste again – if more heat is desired add more jalapeño, more oomph needed salt & onion can aid here, more acid or tang try a little lime juice. This recipe is a guideline to your success, your preference will bring you to your conclusion. Just KEEP IN MIND flavors build when they can rest, so with each additional ingredient added give the ceviche a few minutes to sit before tasting and adjusting again.

Serve immediately with tortilla chips for scooping.

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