Cooking Lessons: Susan Feniger’s Baja Ceviche
October 14th, 2011
This cooking lesson is about how to make ceviche… it’s also about perseverance. Now, don’t scoff until you let me explain. Susan Feniger is one of my all time favorite chefs. In my world a great chef is way better than any actress or musician so this was a pretty big deal for me. Susan owns several restaurants here in LA, the most famous of which is Border Grill but my favorite is a restaurant called Street. Street is sort of a like a tapas restaurant featuring street foods from all over the world, most of which I can’t even pronounce, all of which are crazy-delicious! We’ve had so many great meals at Susan’s restaurants, not to mention watched her rock out on Top Chef Masters, and Best Thing I Ever Ate, and 9 million other food shows and she’s just super awesome, and I love her, ok, I’m a super fan! All of that to say, that I knew someone, who knew someone who might have an in with Susan’s team. So, I asked, and then I asked some more and one person led me to another who forwarded to a different department who said follow up next week/next month/after the holiday and I politely kept following up and finally, yesterday after 6 months of trying, I got the call to the majors. Susan had 20 minutes she could give me and I jumped! And so it happened that I got to meet one of my idols and watch her cook and learned how to properly chop an onion and now I’m sharing it with you too! The ceviche is stellar, the lesson in persistence is priceless.
Here’s What You’ll Need:
1 Lb Skinless, Boneless Pacific halibut, Diced into 1″ cubes (Susan said just about any fish would work)
1 Lb Domestic, wild-caught jumbo shrimp*, cleaned and diced the same size as the fish (again, any shrimp will work)
1 Cup Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice – plus more for mayo
1/2 Red Onion, Finely Diced
1/2 to 1 Jalapeno or Serrano, stem and seeds removed, finely diced
1 Bunch Cilantro, Finely Chopped
2 Roma Tomatoes, finely diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
Sliced California avocado, for garnish
In a large bowl, combine halibut and shrimp and enough lime juice to cover the seafood and allow to marinate for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes drain juice (if you allow the fish to sit in the juice too long it will overcook and become chewy).
Now, How To Chop an onion as taught by Susan Feniger. Cut the onion in half and cut off the ends. Susan said whether you’re cutting an onion or a cantaloupe, you need to cut it in half to give yourself a flat surface to stabilize. Now cut horizontal slits down the length of the onion.
Now, place your hand on top of the onion but cut through towards the back (see photo above/below, this is the angle your knife should be at)
Now you’ve created a grid to chop straight down and suddenly, diced onions!
Now chop 1/2 of the bunch of cilantro, dice the tomatoes and add them to your fish along with the onions and as much of the diced jalapeno or serrano as your taste buds will allow.
Season ceviche with salt and pepper to taste and then set to the side. In a separate bowl combine mayo, the juice of one lime and the other half of the cilantro. I like to think of this concoction as Mexican tartar sauce… I wish I’d thought of that little joke while I was with Susan yesterday. I’m sure she would have laughed and laughed and maybe given me one of her bracelets as a token of friendship… but I digress.
Mix in a little salt into your “sauce” and set to the side.
Now to assemble. Susan serves hers on a mini tostada shell (a small corn tortilla fried for a few minutes on each side in hot oil). But you could buy some pre-made or even serve this on large tortilla chips or as a dip. But to create Susan’s use your shell as a base. Add a large spoonful of ceviche, then top with the mayo, some fresh sliced avocado and some fresh black pepper.
Small moment of bliss after my bite as I’m transported back to Cabo San Lucas! This dish is SO easy to make and so fresh and flavorful. You have to try it at home!!