On a hot summer day, nothing beats the taste of seafood to make us think of rolling surfs and cool breezes – even if we’re stuck in an overheated apartment in the middle of the city. But for those of us who don’t live on a coast, good seafood can be hard to come by.
Fortunately for those of us surrounded by amber waves of grain, frozen shrimp is plentiful, high-quality, and best of all, cheap. But it’s often hard to prepare it in a way that doesn’t involve deep-frying or result in limp crustaceans arranged around a questionable container of cocktail sauce.
Ceviche, a traditional Latin American dish, is a refreshing alternative. Everything marinates in a citrus mixture, which magically “cooks” everything so that it is crisp, and provides a satisfying tang to each bite. It’s just what the doctor ordered for a steamy summer’s night.
This recipe is remarkably flexible – switch up the vegetables, change the seasonings. You can even use a flaky whitefish like tilapia instead of shrimp. All that matters is that you keep the citrus base and use good, fresh ingredients. For that reason, it’s best if you use actual lemons and limes and squeeze them yourself, although bottled substitutes do a decent job and are much less time-consuming.
1 pound raw and deveined frozen shrimp
1 cup lime juice
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cucumber, very thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small hot pepper, minced
1/4 pound thin asparagus, cut into inch-long pieces
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Pour in the shrimp, and immediately turn off the heat. Let the shrimp sit in the hot water for about 90 seconds. Immediately drain and immerse the shrimp in cold water. When cool, drain shrimp.
2. Arrange the shrimp, onion, bell pepper, cucumber, garlic, hot pepper, and asparagus in a shallow pan. Mix together the citrus juice, and pour over the pan.
3. Allow to sit in the refrigerator at least one hour – more time means more flavors mixing. To serve, drain the excess juice, garnish with cilantro. Superb with freshly baked bread.
Yields 4 servings