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Simple Cooking: Perfect Ceviche Love

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Oct 24, 2012 7:30PM

Chicagoist/Chuck Sudo

We're always looking for ways to improve our cooking skills around here. While we know our way around the high and low parts of a hog, seafood is like reading a book a few pages at a time, occasionally peeking ahead to see where the narrative is going.

In short, we're slightly afraid of preparing and cooking seafood and that fear was front and center when the Chicagoist staff got together Sunday for an afternoon dinner and we announced scallop ceviche on the menu. The last thing we wanted to have happen was a mass poisoning of the staff die to eating raw scallops.

We asked for tips on how to handle the scallops we purchased and Mark Mendez, chef and owner at Vera in the West Loop, came through with a ratio he called "ceviche love."

Mendez's recipe calls for three parts lime juice, two parts lemon juice and one part orange juice. This was enough to fully cover the pound of bay scallops we had on hand and let the citrus do its work. From there we frequently stirred the mix for 2-3 hours, until the scallops turned opaque.

From there we made a seafood sauce to serve with the scallops consisting of:

Two red bell peppers, seeded, peeled and roasted
Three red banana peppers, seeded, peeled and roasted
Two tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt, to taste

Perfect ceviche love, indeed. Great as Mendez's citrus ratio worked, the main thing one needs for perfect ceviche love is the freshest seafood available. Don't cheat and get frozen stuff. It's worth a trip to Nick's Fishmarket, The Fish Guy Market, the seafood wholesalers in the West Loop or even your local supermarket to see what they have available.