Monday, April 11, 2011

Fish & Fruit

Ewww.  Sort of.  Why fish and fruit? 

Fish, actually seafood, because it was on Saturday night's menu.  We had a bag of bay scallops in the freezer that I'd been staring at for about a week before deciding it was time to make ceviche (or seviche) again.  If you've never had or heard of ceviche, it's a Latin American seafood dish that "cooks" the fish with the acid in citrus juice, usually lime.  It took me a long time to build up the courage to try it.  But once I did, I kind of liked it.  I have one go-to recipe that I adapted from Williams-Sonoma's Savoring Fish & Shellfish and I don't usually deviate too far from it.

My favorite ways to eat ceviche.  I love the crunchy with the creamy textures.

These are called "champagne mangoes".  I'd never heard
of them before yesterday.  Pretty tasty though.

Fruit, specifically mangoes, because I got a 5-1/2 pound box yesterday with a new recipe in my head.  Several of the blogs I read have been talking about/trying pate de fruit (PAHT duh fwee - your French lesson for the day).  They look beautiful:  little blocks and hearts and circles of gem colored fruit purees jelled firm and coated in sparkling sugar.  I want to try to make them because I want to eat them.  I've looked up at least 15 different recipes for them, some using pectin, some using gelatin, some using neither.  I'm going to start with an adapted pectin recipe. 

After washing all of the mangoes, I started by
cutting off their "cheeks".  Sounds a bit cruel, no?

Last night  I prepped the mangoes to make the puree.  I really wanted to finish everything last night but it was getting late and being tired does not bode well for the success of an untested recipe.  Especially when I've read about so many others' failures.  So today's project is finishing the mango pate de fruit.

The cheeks are then scored, without cutting through the skin.
If the mangoes are really ripe, this is easier said than done.

The scored mango can be scooped out with a spoon
or cut from the skin with a knife.  I like the spoon
method because it gets more of the fruit.

One of the things I've noted is the failure rate appears to be higher among those using fruit they puree themselves versus buying commercially prepared fruit puree.  I found myself wondering if the puree was too thin and if the fruit was drained of some of its juice before pureeing.  So I'm going to try letting my cubed mangoes drain a bit before processing  and sieving them.  We'll see how it goes.

But thinking about ceviche and mango instead of "fish and fruit", has me thinking that may not be such a bad combination after all. 

Scallop Ceviche
8 oz bay scallops, thawed if frozen
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, divided
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1 red Serrano chile, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
1 large, ripe avocado
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbs finely chopped cilantro (or flat-leaf parsley if you think cilantro is vile)

Rinse the scallops in cold water.  Remove the “foot” if desired.  (This is the muscle on the side where the scallop attaches to the shell.  It’s usually slightly more opaque than the rest of the scallop.  I remove them because they are a bit tougher than I prefer.)  Place the scallops in a glass bowl and pour over all but two tablespoons of the lime juice.  Refrigerate for an hour, stirring occasionally to make sure all of the scallops get to bathe in the lime juice.  The scallops are done when they turn milky white and opaque.

In a larger glass bowl, add the tomatoes, chile remaining two tablespoons of lime juice and olive oil.  Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and either scoop out the flesh with a melon baller or cut into cubes.  Add to the bowl and stir to combine.

Drain the lime juice from the scallops and add them to the tomatoes and avocado.  Season to taste with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the cilantro or parsley.

I like to serve this with crispy blue corn tortilla chips or rustic, crunchy bread toasted with olive oil, salt and pepper.  It provides a nice texture contrast. 

Serves two nicely as a meal, or four as an appetizer.