It is fall 2006 and I am in the depths of Chef Demo Mania!
I am being pushed to the limit but it is what makes being a chef exciting.
There is nothing more rewarding than presenting food and concepts that I believe in to a live audience. I suppose it is comparable to a when a musician performs live in concert. It's not that I don't love being in the "Studio"--er--my restaurant kitchen. Demonstrating is just a different kind of rush. The interaction with the tasters is very challenging. I am literally face to face with critics and fans alike. I think it not only tightens my chops, but it drives me to connect more with my audience.
For the next week or so I am going to journal my live "performances" for fall of 2006—
Friday September 6th.
Hudson Valley Wine Fest Gala Fundraiser for the Cornell Cooperative.
Grieg Farm, Red Hook NY
New World donated a table of Ceviche to pair with Atwater Vineyard's Finger Lakes Riesling. My good bud Katie Marks makes the best Riesling in the Northeast, maybe the best in America. The ceviche was planned to show off the wine while still wowing the crowd.
File this---I love making ceviche! Not only is it one of the most refreshing and clean dishes in the world, but also the fish is so packed with vitamins AND vitality. When the flesh is not exposed to heat more of the Omega 3's are all intact.
Did you know that cooking fish diminishes the Omega 3 fatty acids available to you?
I feel great when I eat ceviche and since I want all of my guests to feel great, I make and eat ceviche quite often!
I make ceviche with all kinds of fish and shellfish, but my favorite is choice is Mahi Mahi. It is meaty but the oils are mild and it “cooks” quickly without over cooking. Once I was in Guatemala and I caught a Mahi Mahi while deep sea fishing for sailfish. We were 150 km out on the Pacific Ocean. There were three other fisherman, two mates and a captain. That Mahi made for a tasty lunch! I made Ceviche right there on the boat---I filleted the fish, chopped it up with a cheap filet knife, washed it with rum (who knew what the sanitation was like in a fishing boat!), squeezed a bunch of limes on it (the limes were for the beers) and tossed it with Pace brand salsa from a jar and local hot sauce. We ate it on Saltines. It was one of the best meals of my life!
At the wine fest, however, I made the ceviche with tilapia, on a tip from an El Salvadorian friend of mine who also cooks professionally. He suggested tilapia because of it’s mild, earthy flavor and also because it was one of the fish of choice for the people of his town. He was right on. The Tilapia was mild enough to cook quickly but it didn’t interfere with the rest of the complex flavors I used to complement the Riesling. I mixed in local mixed bell peppers, lime, orange, a fistful of cilantro, my own tarragon, roasted tomatillo, corn, organic tomatoes and Serrano chiles. I served it on fresh white corn tortillas. The wine on its own was fantastic, but when it was paired with the mild fish, corn, chile, cilantro and citrus flavors it soared.
I love when that happens!
Incidentally, I met a middle aged woman who told me she was Guatemalan. She was so please that I used tilapia for the ceviche and she also said it was the best food at the event. We are all prone to vote for our own.
If you have any ceviche recipes or sagas, let me know.
Cover and label everything,
Ric the Chef