Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Vegan Ceviche

Vegan Ceviche

A few months ago, my boss asked me to come up with a few vegan versions of seafood dishes, and ceviche was at the top of the list. Ceviche is a Peruvian seafood dish where raw seafood is marinated in citrus juice, usually lime juice, until it is "cooked". It's traditionally eaten with fried plantain chips or tortilla chips in the summer.

Growing up, the most common types of seafood I had were frozen fish sticks and canned tuna made into tuna casserole, and by "most common types of seafood", I mean the seafood we had maybe 3 times a year. I think I've had shrimp cocktail maybe twice in my life, but never any other kind of shellfish, no fresh fish, and certainly not any raw fish, so I have never had authentic ceviche.

It always seems difficult to try to create a dish that mimics something you've never had, but really, this was a snap. My immediate reaction was to use mushrooms, since they have such a distinct texture and flavor, but I decided to try an experiment and see if tofu would work, since I know many people who are not fans of fungi. Just before I went shopping, I saw Bazu's post about her ceviche, which uses hearts of palm to beautiful visual effect, so I thought I'd try that as well. I decided to experiment with four versions: tofu, frozen tofu, mixed mushrooms, and hearts of palm.

In the end, each version had its own set of pros and cons, and I realized that a combination would work best. For example, some of the mushrooms get a bit toothsome, which is how I imagine calamari or shrimp would be in ceviche, while the tofu is nice and tender, and if you use frozen tofu it absorbs a ton of flavor. The hearts of palm are beautiful and an ingenious addition, giving a slight visual nod to calamari, but also lending the dish a nice flavor and texture.

You'll notice in the pictures I didn't use cucumbers or tomato, although they are mentioned as optional ingredients in the recipe; I've been having a terrible eczema/psoriasis outbreak this summer, so I've been using tomatoes very sparingly, as nightshades can aggravate any inflammatory disease. However, tomatoes would be a great, colorful addition, especially if you used various heirloom tomatoes, or a combination of yellow pear and cherry tomatoes. Additionally, if eaten in the summer, tomatoes can be very cooling. Oh, and I simply didn't have any cucumber on hand.

Textural Close-up of Vegan Ceviche

Vegan Ceviche
Christina Terriquez

Yields: 4–8 servings

1 cup organic red onion, diced
1/2 cup organic cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 medium organic tomato, seeded and cut into 1/2” cubes, optional
1/2 medium organic cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2” cubes, optional
2 pinches unrefined sea salt, SI brand recommended
1 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar
juice of 5 organic limes
8 ounces hearts of palm, sliced 1/4” thick
8 ounces organic soft tofu, frozen overnight, then thawed and cut into 1/2” cubes
1/2 cup organic oyster mushrooms, cut into 1/4” thick slices
1/2 cup organic button, crimini or wild mushrooms, cut into 1/4” thick slices
1/2 cup organic fresh shiitake mushrooms, cut into 1/4” thick slices
1 tablespoon organic unpasteurized shoyu
1–2 tablespoons organic agave nectar
1 organic avocado, cut into 1/4”–1/2” cubes, optional
1–2 tablespoons organic hemp oil, optional

In a glass bowl, mix red onion, cilantro, tomato and cucumber, if using, sea salt, umeboshi vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Marinate for 1–2 hours.

Meanwhile, in a separate glass bowl, mix hearts of palm, tofu, mushrooms, shoyu, agave nectar and remaining lime juice. Marinate for 1–2 hours.

Add onion mixture to mushrooms mixture, add avocado and hemp oil, if using, and adjust seasonings.

Spoon into individual servings in martini glasses, and garnish with additional fresh cilantro. Serve with fried plantain chips, tortilla chips, or water crackers.

-For a more pronounced cooling effect, add 1–2 cloves minced garlic to onions before they begin marinating.

-For crisper cucumbers, add them at the last minute instead of pickling them.

-Add diced celery just before serving.

-Instead of freezing tofu overnight, press it for 30 minutes, then blanch or steam it for 15 minutes and cool before marinading.

-You could use all oyster mushrooms or all shiitake, but I wouldn't recommend using all crimini or button mushrooms as they tend to get a little bit...soggy. I really like the textural differences you have when you use a combination, too.


Stan said...

Thanks For this

bazu said...

That's so funny, just this morning, I thought to myself that I should make some ceviche- I even wrote it on my hand as a reminder! Now I see you post and I'm inspired. I think tofu would be a fun addition, same with mushrooms. Yum!

KleoPatra said...

How totally interesting! i've not had any shellfish nor raw fish ever, so this would be a totally new taste sensation for me as well... i would not have anything with which to compare, so hmmmmm... it's definitely got my interest piqued at this point, and the way you serve it in that glass is lovely.

i ate tuna and once in a while could stomach fish sticks but never was big on fish... and not just 'cause i'm a Pisces, i'm sure...

i recall Bazu's post about her ceviche as well. She's such an original. i also like what you did here, all the styles could work.

Well then... ya know, i think i might just go with the plaintain chips. Yum!

Also, what you wrote about the textural component. i like to have that goin' on as well...

aTxVegn said...

I remember Bazu's post and thought it was so interesting. I'm not much for mock meats, but this looks like a great salad.

I was wondering if you had drown in all the rain - geez, I thought it would never stop! I knew you were hosting a potluck and I think it was the night of my dad's bday party, so I couldn't make it. Chase and I went to pizza night last week, although we got pasta instead! Maybe we'll meet up soon. I still want to come to a potluck.

Delite said...

The ceviche sounds delish!! I sell fresh hearts of palm, and have experimented with several ceviche recipes in the past. I will definately give this one a try. If it turns out as good as it sounds and looks I will post it on my website. Fresh Hearts of Palm works well in many Vegan Recipes.

Christina said...

You're welcome, Stan.

How funny, Bazu! Sometimes I have a craving for a food I haven't had or even thought of in a while, and then I'll go somewhere to eat and it will be the special, or if I'm buying groceries, it will be on sale. It makes me feel really connected and in tune with my world, like I'm part of the collective unconscious, you know?

Thanks for the kind words, Kleopatra. It's very nice, cool dish, and it's perfect for these dog days of summer, especially if you like the lime and cilantro flavors.

Diann, I'm not a big fan of meat analogs in general, either, although sometimes they can be nice as comfort or convenience foods. Seitan is probably the one meat alternative that I enjoy tremendously, although I'm not sure if it counts as a mock meat. I like foods to be what they are, so while I'm calling this ceviche, I'm not trying to make a mock fish or krab or whatever. I like approximating textures or flavors and making heritage dishes vegans can enjoy, but no one will eat this and think it's tilapia, and it's definitely not trying to be tilapia.

The rain was insane! I'm from CO, originally, which is very dry, so I had never in my life seen so much water. I know it was cooler since it was so wet, but good gravy, was the humidity getting extreme!

I assume you're talking about eating at Casa. If so, you missed eating my food by one day! I lead the second Sunday of every month. We do more...experimental? elegant? edgy? meals then Casa usually makes. You can view some of our past meals/menus at www.naturalepicurean.blogspot.com although I haven't posted the August meal yet.

The potluck was great! We did nabe which is similar to fondue; really interactive and intimate and boisterous. I may host again in a month or two; we're still decorating (although that hasn't stopped us before).

Hi, Miss Delite. I've never heard of fresh hearts of palm. I guess I assumed they were like olives and needed brining to make them soft and edible. How interesting. If you'd like to share this recipe, please credit me and link back to this blog.

Joseph said...

hearts of palm is a truly inspired addition