Yes! You, Too, Can Easily Make Ceviche

I recently posted a kind of grainy Instagram of some ceviche I fixed up the other day to my facebook profile, and the thing garnered more “likes” at a swifter velocity than just about any other status update I’ve dropped all year. A couple people asked for a recipe, which I basically wing every time I make this stuff. And that made me realize that perhaps there are a number of folks out there who do not know the simple, liberating truth:

Yes! You, too, can easily make ceviche. Here’s one method that works for me–try at your own risk / reward. First, acquire the following if you want to feed one of me or else two-to-three normal people:

  • 6 limes
  • 2 lemons
  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large tomatoe
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 2 avocados
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Next, do this:

  1. Squeeze all the juice out of the limes and lemons and place it in a bowl or casserole dish or something–basically, the flatter bottom’d the better if you want the ceviche it to cure fast. Optional: Throw the spent husks of citrus at those haters who think you can’t cook and may even be right until now.
  2. Dice the fillets so each little fish cube is about the same size–this way, they will all “cook” at the same rate. Put all of them in the bowl or dish or whatever and spread them out so the juice is covering at least 50% of every cube. (Better if all of them are completely submerged.)
  3. Dice all the other vegetables EXCEPT FOR THE AVOCADOS and put them on top of the lemon/lime juice submerged fish. It doesn’t matter quite so much if the vegetables are covered by the juice since they don’t need to “cook.” Trick for jalapenos: slice them in half first and run them under water while you press out the seeds; this will keep any burning acid from flying in your eyeballs when you dice them, as tragically happened to my poor friend, Sid Duffour, the other day.
  4. Throw some salt and pepper on top of everything, cover the top of the bowl / dish, and stick it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. How much salt and pepper, you ask? I don’t know man–whatever works for you. Make some decisions! When in doubt, use less seasoning since you can always put more in there when you eat the stuff whereas nanotechnology or magic is necessary to take the seasoning out if you get a little overzealous.
  5. Stir everything up and stick it back in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  6. At this point, the acid in the lime/lemon juice should have chemically “cooked” the fish. You’ll know if this happened because the fish will turn whitish, just as if you had actually cooked it with fire. If you’re scared of eating raw fish, just let it sit in the refrigerator for another 15+ minutes. Also, you might want to steer clear of sushi…
  7. When you’re ready to consume this delicious amalgam, dice your avocados and mix them in with everything else. If you stick the avocados in at the beginning, they tend to gradually melt away into the ceviche. Which is kinda tasty but not as much as when they persist among the mixture as nice little cubes. If you don’t know how to easily pit an avocado, this guy’s method works; after you’ve pitted the avocado, slice it into cubes while it’s still in the skin and then scoop it out with a spoon–people will think you’re a genius when the truth is that you’re well-read.
We used to call these "the good chips" because everything else was sub-par by comparison.

We used to call these “the good chips” because everything else was sub-par by comparison.

My favorite way to eat this is straight out of the bowl with El Ranchero tortilla chips. And if you think that’s weirdly specific for an otherwise lackadaisical recipe, you clearly need to get some of those chips, rated by Gaper’s Block Media as “Chicago’s Best” over six years ago. Also, you can swap other seafood in for some of the tilapia if you want, e.g. 2 tilapia fillets + 1 handful of peeled shrimp + 1 handful of shelled scallops ≈ biomass of 4 tilapia fillets. Just let the whole mixture sit for a total of, say, 45-60 minutes with stirring every 15 minutes or so to be sure that everything is thoroughly “cooked” by the lemon/lime juice since you’ll be working with different types of protein that cures at different rates. I personally like to stick with tilapia because it’s cheap and delicious and super easy to prep, but ymmv. Finally, you spruce this up a few more notches by throwing some cilantro in there, going halfsies on serrano peppers in place of the jalapenos, and so forth. Experiment!

Enjoy with a tamarind Jarritos, a couple tracks from Tipica 73 in the air, and the woman you love in your arms. Or the man or dog or cat, but not a fish because that’s just cruel.

Lived Simplicity

Yes, there is a part of the shore NOT populated by "those who shall not be named"

Down the shore, reading a book

To break up the flow of longer posts before cranking out part 2 of my analysis of Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30 in juxtaposition with the Jewish High Holiday’s (see part 1 here), I thought I’d direct some attention to a sweet post of somebody else’s that I recently discovered about the concept of lived simplicity.

For a long time, I’ve valued elegance in multiple forms–in music, in mathematics, in interior design, in dancing, in physical accouterments, in self defense, and most pointedly of late, in my work life. So, I’m always on the lookout for helpful ways to distill the things I’m doing towards greater simplicity. This has really paid off when it comes to my workout routine, which I have boiled down to three days a week of high intensity interval training cardio coupled with three days a week following the simplefit.org regimine. I never spend more than 35 minutes a day working out (unless the yen for something like a longer, just-for-fun bike ride strikes), I often spend only 10 minutes a day working out, and I have both shed unnecessary weight and gained muscle plus agility better than any other single method of exercise I have ever tried.

I learned about this approach to physical fitness by scouring the web to see what worked for other folks with limited time, and that also lead to me this great post at the blog, “Marc and Angel Hack Life,” noting 60 very basic things one can do to substantially simplify one’s life. I was pretty psyched to learn that I had already implemented several of these suggestions, like no.20′s “Relocate closer to your place of employment,” no.29′s “Learn to cook, and cook,” and no.60′s, “Make mistakes, learn from them, laugh about them, and move along.” Nevertheless, there are lots good recommendations in this article that never occurred to me before, and there are still others that I’ve certainly heard in the past but could still greatly benefit from more intentionally weaving into my daily life. Here are a couple I plan to focus on over the upcoming month or two:

  • No.5 – “Get enough sleep every night.  An exhausted mind is rarely productive.”
  • No.11 – “Get rid of stuff you don’t use.”
  • No.23 – “Say “I love you” to your loved ones as often as possible.”
  • No.24 – “Single-task.  Do one thing at a time and give it all you got.”
  • No.54 – “Take it slow and add up all your small victories.”
How about you? What are some things you’ve done or, alternatively, some things you’ve cut out of your routine that have really helped to simplify your life in a substantially beneficial way? Are there any book, blogs, films, or passages of scripture that have really helped this way of life to sink in for you? I’d love to hear about it, and I’m curious what suggestions from the aforementioned article resonated the most for you. To wrap up this post, here are just a couple of my favorite verses on prioritization and simplicity upon which I’m meditating these days:
  • Psalm 37:16 – “Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.”
  • Proverbs 16:32 – Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
  • Proverbs 15:16 – “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it.”
  • Ecclesiastes 2:24 – “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God.”
  • Proverbs 8:11 – Wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.”
  • Ecclesiastes 4:6 – Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.
May your life be blessed with greater simplicity.