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There are a few things that happen to me when summer time rolls around, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who experiences these side effects.
1) I want to spend all the time possible in the world outside and in the sun, trying to gain that lovely tan back from the good ole days of being a lifeguard/swim coach. (Seriously, the good ole days!)
2) I have a hankering for hibiscus margaritas, caipirinas and mojitos.
3) I want to cook everything over open fire - meat, corn, fish, pizza, marshmallows, whatever. Unfortunately, living in city, I do NOT have the luxury of open fire cooking.
4) Since the above is not possible, my brain then shifts to: Mexican food. Fish tacos, fresh salsas and guac, but even more so: ceviche.
I absolutely love ceviche - it's any type of seafood that is essentially "cooked" by the acids in citrus fruit juice. These dishes can be found anywhere from Central and South America, to the Caribbean, all the way over to Hawaii and Fiji. Obviously, the different regions will add different flavors into their dishes, but the concept is all the same. Hands down, one of the best ceviches (in this case, aguachile) I've had was in Yelapa, Mexico at Hotel Lagunita. Fresh lobster meat is doused in a marinade of lime juice, and a ton of jalapenos. To say that the dish is spicy would be an understatement. Thinly sliced red onions and cucumbers are scattered about, and you can't really beat it. But I'll save that for later this summer!
On with this dish. When I'm in the mood for ceviche, I generally go to my local Japanese store to check out their sashimi-grade seafood section. Anytime you make ceviche, even though it is "pretend" cooked, be sure you get the freshest product possible. Not only did I pick up a beautiful piece of hamachi and some wasabi tobiko, but I also found a lovely, fresh wasabi root. I knew I was in store for a treat tonight!
This recipe is so freaking delicious, I don't even know what to do with myself. Yes, it has Japanese flavors and elements to it, but anytime you add citrus fruit, I'll call you ceviche in my book. This is an adaptation of an Eric Ripert recipe that is absolutely out of this world. The flavors, even though when wasabi is involved you may think otherwise, are delicate and refreshing - and the dish itself is a thing of beauty. So, gear up for a hot day, find yourself some of these ingredients, and cook away!
Hamachi Ceviche with Ginger-Wasabi Emulsion
Adapted from Eric Ripert
Serves 4 as an appetizer
2 teaspoons freshly grated wasabi, or wasabi paste
3 T fresh lime juice
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 T ginger oil (see instructions right below - leave a couple hours for this to come together!)
1/4 cup canola oil
Pinch of sugar
Sea salt and fresh ground white pepper
To start, make sure you prepare the ginger oil. This really couldn't be any simpler. Peel and dice 3 T fresh ginger, and place in a jar with 1/4 cup canola oil. Let this sit for at least 2 hours to gain a nice gingery flavor. Easy as that! When you're ready to make the emulsion, place the sugar, juices and wasabi either into a regular blender or a container that can handle an emulsion blender. Blend together. With the motor running, add the ginger and canola oil until the mixture is smooth and light in color. Season with salt and pepper and set aside for later.
8 oz hamachi, finely diced
2 t wasabi paste
1 t ginger oil
1 t canola
1 t fresh lime juice
1 t fresh lemon juice
4 t minced cilantro
Sea salt and fresh ground white pepper
2 t wasabi tobiko
In a small bowl, gently mix all of the ingredients except salt, pepper, and the tobiko. To ensure that the flavors are properly distributed, you can even whisk together all ingredients before adding the hamachi. If you're concerned about eating raw fish, you can let this sit for about 20 minutes in the refrigerator - otherwise, season with salt and pepper, and slowly fold in the wasabi tobiko. Be gentle, as you don't want to crush any of the roe.
To serve, you can go as simple or as fancy as you like. I used a shallow serving bowl and assembled everything with a ring mold. First, the hamachi mixture is spooned in and topped by a bit more wasabi tobiko, with the emulsion spooned around the side - I finished mine with red shiso leaf chiffonade. For something less involved, you can spoon the hamachi onto a plate, and sprinkle with more tobiko, and drizzle the emulsion over top. It's all about creativity, so do what you want. Heck, make a parfait out of it if you want!
As I was saying before, even if you eat with your eyes, you won't be disappointed. The emulsion and hamachi mixture are both smooth and velvety, while the tobiko adds a great little crunch in every bite. The green coloring is just as striking - the pale green of the emulsion, combined with the (almost) electric green of the tobiko counter the pale flesh of the hamachi perfectly. More importantly is the flavor. The combination of all the ingredients work together like magic - the wasabi isn't too powerful, and the citrus isn't too sour, and the fresh flavor of the hamachi comes through with every bite. And, it's even better when you get to share it with some great people!