One of the best ways for me to brighten up a dreary winter’s day is to grab hold of a juicy Louisiana satsuma, push my thumb through its forgiving skin, separate the skin from the flesh and plop the seedless segments into my mouth one by one. As I bite down on each section, my mouth swells with tangy sweetness and all is right with the world! At least for a little while! Citrus has that weird mood-enhancing effect on me. Even my kids recognize it! Whenever I’m grumpy, they tell me to go “cut a lime.” While that sounds bossy and disrespectful, they know one whiff will make me smile again. It’s crazy but true!
If you’re not from the Deep South, you may not be familiar with my favorite winter citrus, satsumas. They’re a type of mandarin orange a little bigger than a clementine and sweeter than both clementines and tangerines. The have a funky mottled green and orange coloring and are super easy to peel due to the fact that their rind and skin separate as they ripen. Satsumas are a leading variety of citrus grown in Louisiana. And this time of year, they can be found in just about every Louisiana roadside stand, grocery store, fruit bowl and school lunch. I brought a sack back to Georgia from our last trip home so my kids could compare them to the ever-so-popular clementines that reign supreme here. I also juiced several to work into a few new recipes, one of which was this Satsuma Ceviche.
Ceviche, as you probably know, is a South American dish of fresh raw fish marinated in the juice of acidic fruit and spiced with chili peppers, chopped onions and other goodies. As the fish marinates, the citric acid cooks or cures the fish while leaving its raw flavor intact. The process is fool-proof when dealing with highly acidic fruits and really fresh fish. Because I started out with neither, I had to make a couple of adjustments. I upped the acidity in the beautiful and bright satsuma juice by mixing it with lemon and lime juice. And because I’m landlocked here in Georgia and wasn’t able to get my hands on uber-fresh ingredients, I parboiled my previously frozen fish and shrimp to avoid any foodborne funk. The results were surprisingly divine. So divine, in fact, that I hid the ceviche in the back of the fridge so I wouldn’t have to share it with anyone.
Now if you have access to amazingly fresh local seafood, by all means embrace the true ceviche tradition and skip the boiling step in my recipe. And don’t forget to pair this beautiful dish with an appropriate adult beverage. Belgian Pale Ales or a shot or two of top shelf tequila would be mighty fine choices!
Until next week …
Satsuma Ceviche Recipe
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons salt
2 tilapia fillets, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound raw medium shrimp, peeled and cut in half
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
Juice of 3 satsumas
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and red pepper flakes
Endive leaves or chips, for serving
Place water and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat; bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat and gently stir in tilapia and shrimp. Let sit in hot water, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove seafood from water and transfer in a single layer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Place plate in refrigerator for 5 minutes to allow seafood to cool. Meanwhile combine peppers, onion and citrus juices in a large glass dish. Add seafood and toss until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove from refrigerator, gently stir in cilantro and season to taste with sea salt and red pepper flakes. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with endive leaves and chips. Makes 8 appetizer servings.