Belize, the only English-speaking country in Central America, has a potpourri of culinary influences, including Chinese, Mexican, Creole, and European. You'll find seafood or chicken and a hearty helping of spices at the heart of most Belizean meals.
This is fish or shellfish, cooked by marinating it in lime juice. For shrimp or lobster ceviche, the meat will not be pink if you don't parboil it first. To parboil shrimp (or lobster.)
Tip: If you don't do this quickly, the meat will be tough.
To prepare Barracuda
The fresher the barracuda is, the better. Skin filets if necessary. Cut meat into 1/2" cubes.
To prepare Conch
Conch can be very chewy. Here's how to get tender conch.
There are two colors of conch, white and pink. Get only the white. When you lay out the conch, it looks like a hand and wrist. Cut the conch like you were cutting the hand from the wrist. In the wrist piece, cut 1/2" wide strips parallel to the arm. Cut 1/2" strips from the hand as though they were parallel to the fingers. Cut all these 1/2" strips into 1/2 " cubes.
To prepare Shrimp
Butterfly shrimp, removing vein. If they are large shrimp, cut into approx. 1/2" sections. Leave small shrimp "shrimp shaped"
To prepare Lobster
Cut lobster into approx. 1/2" pieces.
Cut tomatoes into 1/2" cubes. Chop onions coarsely. If you have a cup of meat, you should have a half-cup of tomatoes and a half-cup of onions.
Use one habeñero or three jalepeños for each half-pound of meat Note: Habeñeros vary in heat. Green is less hot. Red is hotter, and Orange is the hottest.
Slice peppers crossways into very thin slices. (1/16" for the habeñeros, 1/8" for the jalepeños.)
Don't dice these. Leave them so that they become optional for the snackers.
The seeds are the hottest part. You may not want to add these.
Mince cilantro, and stir in approximately 1 tbsp for each half-cup of meat. This should be done to taste. Some people find cilantro overpowering. Belizean Mike Gallego says "you should just be able to taste a fresh cut copper taste." I think you should see the cilantro nicely scattered through the civiche, but not dominating the look of it.
Mix this thoroughly, and squeeze enough fresh lime juice to approx. half cover the mixture.
Tip: To easily get the juice out of a lime, roll it hard on the countertop until it's soft. Then cut & squeeze.
Let the mixture marinate in the refrigerator until the meat is cooked, stirring well every five minutes. As the meat cooks, it will change from clear to white. This takes about 15 or 20 minutes. When it is done, the color will be nicely Mexican—red, white and green. Of course, if you use shrimp or lobster, the pink will be in there too!
Serve ceviche on a plate without the lime juice—this is not soup! It goes best with fresh-fried corn tortilla chips.
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This page modified January 2007
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