Ojai resident Claud Mann, chef and cohost of the TBS show Dinner and a Movie and a regular contributor to Edible Ojai, makes this dish constantly during the summer. His wife's father, who grew up in Acapulco, invented it and called it Perlita, or "little pearl," for daughter Perla. The title also refers to the bright bits of fish in the ceviche.
Notes: The citric acid in lime juice firms fish and makes it opaque, so ceviche looks and tastes cooked but isn't. As with sushi, if you want to be extra careful, shop at a trusted market, tell the fishmonger that you plan to eat the fish raw, and always use safe kitchen practices.
3/4 pound very fresh boneless, skinless halibut or sea bass, cut into 1/4-in. to 1/2-in. diced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
2 tablespoons juice from a jar of sliced pickled jalapeños (sometimes labeled
1/2 medium sweet white onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup grape tomatoes or 1 medium firm-ripe tomato, cut into 1/4-in. cubes
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-in. cubes
4 ounces pitted green olives (preferably not brined in vinegar; if they are, rinse with water before using), finely chopped
1/2 cup very finely crumbled cotija (firm Mexican cheese) or feta cheese (about 3 oz.)
1 serrano chile, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 firm-ripe avocado
Coarse kosher salt to taste
Thick tortilla chips
Mexican hot chile sauce, such as Cholula
How to Make It
In a medium bowl, combine fish and 2 tbsp. each of lime and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 6, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, mix olive oil, oregano (rubbed between your palms first if the flecks are large), and pickled jalapeño juice in a large bowl.
Drain fish in a colander, discarding juices, and add to olive-oil mixture. Toss to coat.
Add pickled jalapeños, onion, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, cheese, serrano, and cilantro. Peel avocado, cut into 1/2-in. cubes, and toss gently with remaining 1 tbsp. lemon juice; add to bowl and toss ceviche gently and thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and remaining 1 tbsp. lime juice. Serve with tortilla chips and hot chile sauce.
Only make this recipe if you are OK never having as good of Ceviche anywhere else, ever again. This will turn into *that* recipe by which all other Ceviche is judged against. I've made this now dozens of times since I saw the recipe in 2007. Every time I've made it, I've had to have copies of the recipe ready to give to guests. They in turn come to the same conclusion that this is It. There really isn't much more I can say.
I have made this recipes three times and received rave reviews each time. The balance of the acid and saltiness is perfect, and the textural contrast makes for a perfect ceviche. MUCH better than standard restaurant ceviche. The pickled jalapenos can also be homemade, but are a must. I highly recommend this dish to please guests but keep the kitchen tidy. One of the few recipes you should follow to the letter.
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