When things are going well in the kitchen, cooking feels like magic. A boring grocery list of ingredients can become greater than the sum of its parts through a balanced formula of patience and technique. That’s the case with this halibut ceviche recipe from the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE). Once you learn the secret to fully cooking seafood without turning on the stove, it’s hard not to feel like a cooking wizard.
This dish calls for one pound of halibut, but any hearty white fish like cod, snapper, or steelhead trout works in its place. Once you’ve cut the fish into half-inch chunks, mix it with lime juice and diced onion in a non-reactive bowl. (Copper and aluminum cookware reacts with the acid in citrus, causing a metallic flavor to leach into your food.)
Once the ingredients are combined, cover the bowl and allow them to marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes. According to Roger Sitrin, ICE’s lead recreational chef-instructor, this is when the “cooking” process takes place. “When you cook something, you’re changing the proteins,” he tells Mental Floss. “You’re denaturing the proteins in that item, whether that be by heat when you’re cooking it, or in this case using an acid like lemon juice or lime juice.”
Though it’s never exposed to high heat, the halibut will have a similar look and texture to fish that’s been poached or steamed. “The trick here is that you’re looking for the same signs, meaning that if you were to cook it you would be looking for the protein to be opaque. Well, the same thing happens here,” Sitrin says.
Once your fish is no longer translucent, drain the excess marinade using a colander. Mix together diced tomatoes, serrano peppers, cilantro, and Manzanillo (a.k.a. Manzanilla) olives in a separate bowl and add the fish plus salt and orange juice. Finish the ceviche by gently stirring in chunks of avocado and serve it with a bag of tortilla chips.
The instructors at ICE’s New York and Los Angeles campuses are experts in the science and art of cooking. To view their full curricula, which covers subjects in the culinary arts and hospitality and hotel management, check out their website here.
Alaskan Halibut Ceviche
Makes: 4 servings
1 pound fresh Alaskan halibut, diced into 1/2-inch chunks
1 1/2 cups fresh lime juice
1 medium white onion, 1/2-inch dice
2 medium-large tomatoes, 1/2-inch dice
3 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro, plus a few leaves for garnish
1/3 cup chopped and pitted Manzanillo olives
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced
Tortilla chips, for serving
- In a non-reactive bowl, combine the fish, lime juice, and onion. Use enough juice to cover the fish and allow it to float freely. This will encourage the fish to marinate properly. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, until a cube of fish no longer translucent or looks raw when broken open. Drain in a colander.
- In a large bowl, mix together the tomatoes, serrano peppers, cilantro, olives, and olive oil. Stir in the fish and season with salt. Add the orange juice.
- Just before serving, gently stir in the diced avocado.