Pairings in a Pandemic: Ceviche in the Time of Coronavirus

Words and Photos: Mike Thompson

Con apología a Gabriel García Márquez!

I am sure that I have now checked every box in the “How to Stay Sane While Quarantined” manual. I have mastered sourdough bread baking, although an increasing waistline and impending gluten intolerance may be the most lasting result of this. I have added to my long quiet hikes in the woods an occasional run…my hamstrings complain regularly. Books are stacking up on every coffee table as I reread old favorites. I have ZOOMED and then some. Alcohol consumption made easy by doorstep delivery has not been just what the doctor ordered. My yard and gardens have never been better-tended …neighbors complements are not nearly enough. Fishing has been vicarious; reports of hatches on western rivers and angling by others has only served to cast me into a funk. Tying flies would be a good distraction, but I am too antsy to devote much time to sitting in front of a vice for extended periods, plus I suck at it.

So when Bennett at Moldy Chum threw out the idea of a series based on food and drink pairing during a pandemic, I felt I had an idea that was ready-made for the occasion. It would combine some of my favorite pastimes, eating, drinking, and fishing. Plus, I already had featured the recipe in an article in 2009 for the blog wayupstream.com and in a sales rep training manual for Patagonia, The Joy of Selling: A Cookbook. My long-time friend and partner in crimes of hunting and fishing, Billy Trimble, has a flair for cooking whether wild game, fish, or from his garden. I had always hoped that I could help him compile a cookbook with some of his best recipes. He has been a full-time fishing guide based on the central Texas coast for the past twenty years. It turns out that guiding takes up all his time so the best I could do was to feature recipes when I could. For the purpose of pairing, I am going to share Billy’s Black Drum Ceviche and my margarita recipes. Both of these can be found in many other places and with equally good results, I am sure, but personally I have never had better anywhere else. So here goes, along with a little background as needed.

Ceviche

Ceviche is typically fish “cooked” in an acidic bath of fresh, unprocessed citrus juice. Here’s what Captain Billy has to say about this dish: “One of my favorite summertime meals is ceviche, and one of the best fish to use for ceviche is black drum. The flesh of the black drum is perfect for the dish, as it is white, flaky, and not oily. It will not turn to mush like the flesh of a speckled trout and is not as tough as redfish. Ceviche is easy to make, as it requires no stove, only time.”

Ingredients

– Black drum fillets

– 1 Dozen medium shrimp

– LOTS of limes

– 1 Orange

– Olive oil

– Sea salt

– Black pepper

– Tabasco

– Cilantro

– Jalapeños

– Bird peppers

– Green olive – Capers

– Half an onion

Notes

If you cannot get black drum fillets, then red snapper, redfish, or flounder can serve as an alternative. When working with saltwater fish, never let fresh water touch the flesh of the fish until just before the cooking process begins. Instead of the first cleansing lime juice rinse, you can pour steaming (not boiling) hot water over the fish and shrimp through a strainer. If you want a milder version of this recipe, then substitute a red bell pepper instead of the hot pepper varieties. Captain Billy suggests pairing this ceviche recipe with your choice of Mexican beer, or for this exercise, a kick-ass margarita. He likes to serve organic blue corn chips and sliced avocado on the side.

Step One: Begin with the fillets of a fresh black drum and about a dozen medium-size shrimp, deveined. Rinse fish fillets and shrimp with fresh water. Cube drum fillets and shrimp into a glass bowl, and then cover with freshly squeezed lime juice and set aside in the fridge for about an hour. Drain the lime juice off of the fish or shrimp; it is now ready to be combined with the other ingredients.

Step Two: Medium-finely dice half an onion, devein and dice two jalapeños (serrano can serve here as well) and several bird peppers to taste, chop a handful of green olives, and chop a bunch of cilantro. Combine and add a hand full of capers. Add salt (lightly), pepper, and a couple of dashes of Tabasco and olive oil, and then stir together.

Step Three: Squeeze the juice of one orange, and then enough lime juice to cover the fish. Cover and set in the fridge for at least four hours. Strain off the citrus juices before serving.

Margarita

A cocktail consisting of tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice and can be served on the rocks and is often served with salt on the rim of the glass.

Ingredients:

  • Tequila: I like Hornitos, but any good tequila will do. Watch out because this can get expensive and is not really necessary to achieve the desired result.
  • Orange Liqueur: If you cannot get to Mexico, and you cannot at the moment, you can substitute Cointreau for my favored Mexican brand, Controy. Any other orange liqueur will work, but I will not put my stamp of approval on it.
  • Lime Juice: Fresh squeezed or a pure lime juice bottled, and oh so nice when you are shaking up the second round.

​​​​​​Preparation:

​I like to use a shaker full of ice.

  • 2 jiggers of ​Tequila
  • 1 jigger of ​orange liqueur
  • 1 jigger ​lime juice

A squeeze of ​orange juice leftover from ​making the ceviche

Shake and strain into a glass rimmed with salt…​! Buen ​Provecho!

Download the ceviche recipe here.

Ceviche Recipe

If you want to explore what the Texas coast has to offer, Captain Billy Trimble has been fly fishing the Texas Coastal Bend since 1980 and guiding since 1999.

You can reach him via email @ billytrimble@cableone.net.

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