Fresh Swai Ceviche with Blue Corn Chips...
Seafood is one of my favorite things to eat. It's a mini-thrill for me to find a new variety for kitchen experimentation! I often go to a certain "organic" market and browse the seafood counter, lured by their diverse selection. I slowly float down the case. Eyes wide. Breezing over the glistening assortment, searching for inspiration. Almost giddy with anticipation, I feel as if I'm on a culinary scavenger hunt. I LOVE IT!
One particular store has little signs labeling the fish as: Sustainable, At-Risk, Endangered. I might get stoned for writing this, but I have to admit...this irritates me a little. These signs cast a dark shadow of guilt over my otherwise delightful fish-selecting process! Please understand, I'm not saying we should haphazardly consume whatever we please without care of consequence. I want to help sustain fish populations for the "greater good" of our ocean's ecosystems. But why do these eco-friendly stores continue to offer them??? Why put lovely, delicious, ENDANGERED fish in front of me, only to give me dirty looks when I'm tempted to buy it? After all, it's ALREADY DEAD, I can't throw it back now! (This is the same store where the grocery clerk huffed and suspiciously glared at me the ONE time I forgot my reusable bags!) At the seafood counter, I'm like an eager little mouse sitting in front of a cheese-laden trap. Nose up, I cautiously sniff the insatiable aroma of bliss, mingled with danger. Paws slowly creep forward, as my mind fights to resist....SNAP! You might think I need a good hand-slap at this point, but I wish they would just stop catching endangered fish in the first place!
In all seriousness, I do my best to look the other way when I see the bluefin tuna and red snapper. In the last year, many of our stores have started carrying Swai or Basa, an eco-friendly and wallet-friendly white fish. If you haven't tried it, I know what you're thinking. Cheap fish tastes like...cheap fish. Yet this economical swimmer is surprisingly good! It's an Asian variety of river catfish with a mild, slightly sweet essence. As a river fish, Swai doesn't seem to have the "bottom-dweller" flavor of many catfish varieties. The most sustainable choice is farm-raised in America, and generally costs around $3.99 a pound. I recently bought it on sale for $1.99 a pound!
Ceviche (se-vee-chae) is one of those dishes we curious eaters often adore, while others find it a little daunting. A raw seafood salsa. Or more accurately, citrus-seared fish combined with veggies and herbs to create a light, yet robust concoction. For those who are leery, the acid in the lime juice sort-of cooks the fish over time, so you can feel adventurous eating "raw fish" without any of the worry! Ceviche is scrumptious served over greens for a warm-weather salad or with tortilla chips as a protein-packed snack.
I like to make ceviche with rich seafood; scallops or seabass are personal favorites. But as we are all trying to be more responsible with our personal resources, as well as our global resources, Swai is a great alternative. It's delicate, almost creamy texture gives it the semblance of a more luxurious catch!
I served this to friends last night who couldn't get over the smooth flavor of this humble fish. Give it a try!
Fresh and Simple Swai Ceviche
3 Swai fillets, diced (about 1 lb.)
2 limes, juiced
1 tomato, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 shallot, diced (or ¼ cup red onion)
1 Tb. chopped cilantro
¼- ½ tsp chile-garlic paste
Salt and pepper
Place the diced fish into ¾ of the lime juice and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Strain when ready to proceed.
Mix the veggies with the remaining lime juice.
Stir in the fish and cilantro. Drizzle with olive oil and add the chile-garlic sauce. Gently toss.
Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with tortilla chips or a salad.
Serves 4 for dinner or 8 for appetizers.