Our good friend and one of Playa’s top fishermen, Kike, was out graciously sharing the fruits of his labor this afternoon so I decided to hang around and partake in his bounty. Not only is Kike a great fisherman, he’s a darn good cook too. Today, 30 feet from his boat Kike mixed up some fresh ceviche in about 30 minutes with some of his fresh catch and a little help from his friends. The fish today was Jurel and Kike’s tailgate served as his beachside kitchen. The following photos show the process more or less from start to finish. For the men who may be viewing this tutorial, I have spiced things up a bit, midway through the presentation in an effort to maintain your interest. Nonetheless, please try to remain focused on the actual food preparation and do not let your eyes or mind wander to less important matters. This is an instructional cooking episode with the sole purpose of showing you something you have not seen before or for that matter, in all likelihood, something you will not ever see again. Okay Kike… let’s roll! On to the photos…
Step 1: Squeeze a dozen or more fresh limes into your plastic container. Use a lime squeezer to make this simple and effective. Try to leave out as many paint chips and pieces of rust as possible from the kitchen counter which in this case is the bed of Kike’s pickup truck.
Step 2: Finely dice 2 or even 3 small purple onions to add to the lime juice. Be sure to dice the onions very slowly while telling a couple of funny stories to your audience. The stories are best if they are about about one of your friends misfortune and even better if the friend is present during the telling. It is also quite important to drink at least one warm beer while dicing and storytelling to keep your knife hand steady and your vocal cords well lubricated.
Step 3: After rinsing 1 bunch of fresh cilantro in saltwater (located 30 feet away in great abundance although you can use fresh water in a pinch), chop the cilantro finely and add to the lime juice and onions. As you can see from the photo, you should be on your third warm beer by now with nine more left in reserve.
Step 4: In step 4 it is very important to pay close attention to the written instructions as following the photo only, could cause you to be distracted and end up with a nasty little knife wound. In this step we are very finely dicing dicing at least 3 of the fiery hot, orange habaneros. If it’s not already hot enough here, include the habanero seeds and add them in with the mix. You may use more or less habaneros as you see fit. You should also avoid touching exposed skin after chopping habaneros.
Step 5: Time to start adding the fish. It is at this point that Kike decided to invite an assistant in to help out with the cutting, which most of us on hand agreed, was a stroke of genius on his part as we were getting somewhat tired of his stories and his chopping. Now, with renewed interest we watched the assistant very closely while we sipped on warm beer so as not to miss whatever it was she was doing.
Step 6: Because adding the fish is such an important step in the preparation of the ceviche, we decided to add another picture of it here.
Step 7: Fortunately for us the inclusion of the diced tomatoes is also very important as you can also see here. Use about 6 roma tomatoes for this and be sure they are diced very small. You can leave the seeds in if you like. These tomato slices will need to be cut crosswise several more times to be small enough. Please note the extra orange habanero at the ready should it be deemed necessary by the chef.
Step 8: After adding the diced tomatoes, add as much salt and pepper as you would like and mix thoroughly into the ceviche. By now you should also be nearly finished with the first 6 pack of warm beer.
Step 9: As the culinary masterpiece nears its completion, a ceremonial orange habanero is added as a colorful garnish. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, ever, eat a whole habanero in one bite unless you are a professional. For that matter, even 2 bites. If you do and should you survive, you may wish you hadn’t. More on this in a moment.
Step 10: The addition of the avocados is the final step in the preparation of the ceviche. Kike cuts the avocado in half, removes the pit and then uses the skin of the avocado as a cup while he thin slices the avocado right out of its skin. 3 or 4 avocados should be just about right. You may also notice that the ceremonial orange habanero has already been half eaten by Kike’s first mate. What a show off!