I returned to New York on Saturday evening with a certain restlessness and a hankering for the Village. Despite the higher prices of food in the area, J* and I made our way to the lower east side. We missed the last showing of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind at the almost too-cool-for-school KGB, so wandered over to a restaurant nearby called Candela, Candela. The joint is an interesting mixture of Cuban and Italian cuisine. The signs surrounding the outdoor seating enticed us in with "Cucina, Mojito Bar." Although I don't often digress from a cold beer in the summer, I do love me an occasional mojito with plenty of fresh mint, lime, and hopefully a strip of sugar cane (oh, and rum of course).
Despite the price ($16!), I was very excited about the three kinds of ceviche on the menu. Ceviche, a kind of fresh seafood salad marinated in lime juice and served cold without cooking, is the perfect food to enjoy outside on a warm, summer night. I've had ceviche with fish, shrimp, squid, scallops, and, probably my favorite, conch pulled right out of the shell in front of me (in the Bahamas). Thinking that we could split the dish and forgo anything else, we ordered the spicy, mixed seafood ceviche with lime at Candela, Candela.
Perhaps I am not accustomed to the Cuban variety, but I did not care for this ceviche. We were served a variety of seafood (shrimp, squid, and mussels??) in a large glass bowl, but the seafood was quite whole, instead of being chopped up (I was told this was Cuban variety). Nonetheless, I couldn't taste any lime or any other seasonings. It basically tasted like a bowl of fishy seafood (with flavors not altogether pleasant to meld). Now, fresh seafood is great, but not when I want ceviche. I want something a bit more liquid, with lots of lime, tomato, avocado, and whatnot. I want to scoop it up with plantains or tortilla chips.
With my experience eating in Mexico, I know now how strongly I prefer the Mexican ceviche.
Shrimp Ceviche Tostada
Shrimp is "cooked" in lime juice and blended with tomatoes, onion, and jalapeno
2 lb. Tiger Shrimp, raw, peeled & deveined (30-40 count)
1/2 Yellow Onion, finely chopped
4 small Tomatoes, diced
1 Jalapeno, finely chopped
1 bunch Cilantro, leaves only, finely chopped Salt to taste
1 pkg. Tostadas
2 - 8 oz pkg. Rico Guacamole
DirectionsSqueeze limes into large bowl. Cut shrimp in approximately 4 pieces each. Place shrimp and onions in lime juice, cover and let marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Remove shrimp mixture from refrigerator and add tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro and salt to taste. To serve, drain lime juice from ceviche. Next, spread guacamole on top of tostada and top with ceviche. Garnish with cilantro and hot sauce.
Yield: 4 servings (2 tostadas per person)
Photo compliments of flickr, Andrea F Lee