Cool Ceviche For Lazy Summer Nights

The bad news is that it is late August, which means it's hot and muggy outside, which also means that I am cooking-lazy (again). Bad news because I am crazy hungry but don't want to heat not even one tortilla lest my kitchen become a blazing infierno. Then, before I know it, I'll be eating tuna out of a can, just like my cat.
The good news is that I can always make some cool tilapia fish ceviche (Seh-VEE-Cheh) tostadas instead.
Now that summer is almost through, I hope you don't mind if I scoot in this recipe at the last minute. I have to thank my friend Gloria for this one. She is from Eastern Jalisco, where there are no white sandy beaches or fancy sweet tropical drinks with little umbrellas. It probably is the last place you would expect to find a simple yet jump-for-joy no-cook tilapia ceviche recipe. It is a small town, more like a rancho to be exact, not too far from Guadalajara.

So when Gloria and Armando invited my viejo and me over for dinner, I was somehow hoping for something else. I was wishing for something like birria de chivito—stewed baby goat—a dish that is all together authentic and in keeping with the romantic notion of what I think of as rustic Mexican food. Something that could only come out of Mexico's heartland, not anything oceanic if you catch my drift. What I found instead was a huge bowl of this tilapia ceviche with corn tortilla tostadas. I could say that I was disappointed, though in retrospect, I am happy that the poor baby goat was granted a reprieve and did not have to be sacrificed just to satisfy my cravings. Stewed baby goat will have to wait for another day.

Always one to create an event by performing a simple but dramatic act, Gloria presented us with a large bowl of guacamole. It was nothing more than smashed avocado with a bit of salt—and just perfect, not gussied up with salsa or lime juice this time. No need for further embellishment, it really tasted gorgeous just like its fresh green color. The real surprise, though, was when Gloria instructed us to spread mayonnaise on the tostadas before topping them with the ceviche and the guacamole. Its tangy creaminess framed the hot and lemon-tinged ceviche, grounding it, making it more substantial so that it wouldn't just float away as some ceviche recipes do. Of course, the ceviche didn't float away, but I did.

Whenever I enjoy a dish that I know I will be thinking about for a long time, I always ask the cook why she likes it, and why did she decided to cook it this time. I was half expecting Gloria to say, "Eating ceviche reminds me when I saw the ocean for the very first time. There was a flaming orange sun setting over the calm waters of the Pacific just off Puerto Vallarta. Draped across the sky were shades of orange and violet—then a soft twilight descended over us, suffusing everything in a soft, pinkish glow. And suddenly I knew that I couldn't bear to live without it, to listen to the ceaseless bounding of the surf for the rest of my life." Or something quasi-poetic like that.

Instead she rolled her eyes and replied, "Don't you know that I was lazy and I didn't feel like cooking?"

Ay, amiga mía, my sentiments exactamente.

Tilapia Ceviche Tostadas

This is so easy that you really don't need a recipe. This is just a guide so that you can make as little or as much as you want. However, if you have to have a recipe, here it is. Make sure that you use only a non-reactive bowl, such as plastic, stainless steel or glass, while the lemon juice is "cooking" the fish and onions in the frig. It is a no-brainer to say that this dish tastes best icy cold, so lay the bowl of ceviche on a bed of crushed ice.

8 oven-fried tostadas (see recipe below); OR, 8 store-bought tostada shells (for hot, muggy days only!)

1 pound tilapia or red snapper filets, chopped into small bite-sized pieces

The juice of two medium lemons

½ cup diced white onion

½ cup diced green bell pepper, finely chopped jalapeño or serranos, or any combination thereof*

½ tomatoes, the sweetest you can find

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

salt to taste

1 mashed avocado

mayonnaise (optional)

bottled Mexican-style hot sauce, or fresh chile salsa

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the chopped fish and diced white onions. Pour in the lemon juice, and using a spoon, mix it with the fish and onions. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for an hour or two, or until the tilapia is opaque. The tilapia is now cooked. Add the chiles, tomato and cilantro. Add salt to taste.

Mash the avocado and place with the pit in a separate bowl. I made mine plain, but you can gussy it up if you want.

Before serving, spread some mayo on each tostada. Add a large spoonful of the ceviche and serve immediately. Serve with the guacamole, cut limes, and the hot salsa.

*(Variation: If you have the time and don't mind standing over a hot stove, omit the bell pepper and add diced roasted poblanos instead. It is certainly worth the sweat!)
OVEN FRIED TOSTADAS RECIPE: I adapted this recipe for great oven-fried tostadas from the January/February 2006 issue of Cook's Illustrated. They are crunchy without being too greasy.
about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

8 store-bought mini corn tortillas


Brush each tortilla on both sides with a little oil. Salt them to taste, and arrange them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Place the tortillas in a pre-heated 450˚oven for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until they start to turn color. Flip them on the other side and continuing baking until they are golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove them at once.


Gera @ SweetsFoods said...

Ohh I love ceviche,...guacamole.. the tangy-creaminess is in the air with this dish...perfect for my summer that is coming yum yum :)



Juju said...

This sounds amazing.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of a refreshing ceviche on a tostada! Delicious!

julie said...

are the oven baked tostadas healthier or is it just to avoid messy grease? i have never used tilapia for ceviche but i am going to try it!

Clementina said...

Hola, Julie!
I'm never one to avoid messy grease, but yes, I do bake the tortillas in the oven for health reasons, although these have enough oil to them so they can taste good. Too little oil results in a dry tortilla. I think that this is a good compromise.
Hope you'll like the tilapia!

Pearmama said...

Mmmmmm, ceviche! I've never thought to *cook* the tilapia that way. I've just cooked it on the grill with some fresh garlic, onions and a little olive oil. Not too much hassle, quick and easy.

I also put cucumbers in my ceviche...some chopped shrimp is good too. My husband likes imitation crab but eh, its too sweet for me.

Ceviche is our summer go-to meal. It's so fresh and easy and inexpensive. My children can literally eat about 4-5 tostadas of it. So you know we to make a huge vat of it! We also make this to take to the beach with us. While all the gringos are eating sandy sandwiches, we are eating like kings!! heehee

When I worked in East L.A., this is what we ate for lunch everyday during the summer. When you can get a tostada heaping with crab, fish, shrimp and octopus for $1.50, you'd be stupid not to, right?

Thanks for the lovely photos...I love your dishes, the terracotta floor--its beautiful!

Clementina said...

Hola, Pearmama!
Eating ceviche in East Los? I love that place! I had familia there for many years, and although I'm a native-born Valley Girl, I considered East LA the starting point of my family. It was there where my mama "landed fresh off the boat" from Mexico.
And the food--the best!
Ever had the cactus drink en el mercado?
Thanks for you very sweet words!
Saludos, chula!

Leslie Limon said...

I don't know why ceviche tastes so much better when you add a little mayonesa to your tostada, but I love it! One of my sister-in-law's let me in on that little secret years ago and I've been eating my ceviche that way ever since. Have you ever tried the Soy Ceviche?

Clementina said...

Hola, Leslie!
No, I haven't, and although I love soy, especially tofu, I don't think I will be eating "soy" ceviche anytime soon.

Soy with Thai food? Yes.
With comida mexicana? I doubt it.

On the other hand . . .

Dawn said...

I found your website last night and I have to tell you I love, love, LOVE it. I will be making this recipe soon!

Clementina said...

Hola, Dawn!
Gracias for the compliment. Hope to see you again!

Canadiangrl said...

Clementina, so glad you stopped by my blog. Yours, a keeper! Look forward to following.

Clementina said...

Hola, Canadian Girl--
Love your blog! It's great to see Mexico through fresh eyes. Have a little taco de lengua for me, okay?

jamesesdechicho said...

No, my name is not Tiburcio but I will gladly go by it out of appreciation for having found your awesome blog.
I've always found mexican food to be amazing due to all the different influences that come into play and your blog, is going to turn me into a magificent cook. haha!
Thanks for stoping by and saying hello.

Elise said...

Hello, I had to leave you a note to say what a heavenly blog you have here ! Such interesting and creative posts, and I love your pictures as well. Perfect ! Thank you for sharing them and best wishes.. have a good week

Clementina said...

Hola, Elise
may I return the compliment and state what a heavenly blog you have! A BALLET BLOG!
Like almost every little girl, I wanted to be a ballerina.
Are there any Mexican ballerinas? I hope so.

jennydraws said...

Hola friend,

I like this receipe. Its not to fishy for me. Love you

Clementina said...

Hola, Jenny!
I just got the lovely gift you sent me. I will make sure to read it as soon as I get the chance. When are you coming over so we can get cooking?
Love ya lots,

kobico said...

Quiero ceviche! I first had it in the city of Santa Tecla in El Salvador. My best friend's aunt served it sin tortilla y guacamole. It sounds like the avocado would complement it well, though, so I will definitely try it. Saludos!

Clementina said...

Hola, Kobico
It seems that ceviche sans tostada would be more healthy, but any way you eat it it is still refreshing.
BTW, it seems to me that you are a polygot--about 4 languages?
NO wonder you've lived all over the place!

kobico said...

I only speak two languages, English and French. I know a few German, Spanish and Japanese verbs in present indicative, but could not get by in those languages. I try, though!

Lisa Renata said...

The best ceviche I ever had was the one I use to buy afters chool from this little old man with a vending cart, in Mazatlan when I was in the 6th grade. I have no idea what it was really made of (and nor did I care at that age), all I cared about was the it was delicioso!

I'll be sure to try your recipe. It looks rico!!!

San said...

Despite Gloria's comment about making this ceviche because she was feeling "lazy," your post is bringing me back to a lovely, languorous vacation mi esposo and I had in the Yucatan. Delectable, fresh fish to be had at the humblest eating places, and served with love. As well as guacamole.

Clementina said...

Hola, San!
Thank you for visiting and for your kind comments.
I checked out your website, and all I have to say that your art is not just beautiful, but uplifting, too.
See you again soon!

sara said...

you have the cutest blog

Clementina said...

Hola, Sara
Thanks for the compliment. Glad you like it.

Anonymous said...

I live in Mazatlán and eat ceviche a lot, especially when it is hot and steamy, like now. Here, there are commercially made tostadas that are really good and fresh and offered in all the restaurants with ceviche, along with mayo! I love your website.
Thanks, Dee

Clementina said...

Hola, Anon!
It must be steaming hot in Mazatlan right now, but what I wouldn't give to be there right now.
Thanks for visiting!

prashant said...

I love ceviche,...guacamole.. the tangy-creaminess is in the air with this dish.

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Miss Mommy said...

I just love ceviche I made it almost all summer very easy to cook and so good...

prashant said...

perfect for my summer that is coming yum yum

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