I have long been fascinated with ceviche ("seh-BEE-chay"). While fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro and seafood tossed together and marinated in citrus and peppers sounds wonderfully appetizing, I can't necessarily get past the rawness of the fish or shellfish that is the star among the mix.
Traditional thought is that marinating the seafood in citrus "cooks" it. But in actuality, while it does change the texture of the fish or shellfish to a more firm and translucent state, mimicking cooked seafood, the citrus-juice combination does not kill any bacteria that may be present. So "fresh" must mean fantastic quality, straight out of the ocean. Many ceviche restaurants along the South American coast close by 4 p.m., because that morning's catch is no longer fresh.
Enter today's recipe, which I developed after watching my friend prepare a huge pan of ceviche for a fiesta at her house. She makes her ceviche with cooked shrimp, so it can be served at any time of the day. It can even be served for leftovers, should you be so lucky, the next day.
I love to pile it by the spoonful on crisp tortilla chips. If you've ever been curious about ceviche, give this beginner's recipe a try. I'll stick to this version until I'm lucky enough to be sitting on a beach in South America watching the seafood coming off the boats early in the morning.
Suggested menu: Beginner's Ceviche with tortilla chips, green salad with ranch dressing and agua fresca of choice.
• Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross are co-authors of "Desperation Dinners!" Write them at Desperation Dinners, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or firstname.lastname@example.org. More at the Desperation Dinners website, kitchenscoop.com.