Salmon-avocado ceviche, inspired by Rafael Palomino’s Viva la Vida.

Salmon-avocado ceviche inspired by Viva la Vida

Most weeks, usually on Wednesdays, I download the latest episode of the Office Ladies podcast and take a walk across the harbor to Whole Foods in order to pick up fish in order to make either a ceviche, a tiradito, or some similar dish where the fish would likely only be cooked in some acid. It’s a nice little break to take–I get some fresh air, I get to ride on the free Harbor Connector there and back, and Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey make excellent company for the duration of the journey. I got into the habit of making on-foot Whole Foods runs last year, and once the weather became amenable to that again, I volunteered to be the one to pick up our fish.

(A weird thing is that I’m so used to listening to the pod while wearing a mask, so I would feel free to giggle and smile since no one could see my face–I still smile and giggle and laugh, but it feels strange to do that without the cover of the mask for much of the journey now.)

While I usually have a recipe in mind when I go to the fish counter, I tend to be flexible based on what’s available and what’s a reasonable price. Whole Foods can be ridiculously pricey, but good deals can be had–especially if a fish is in season like wild Alaskan salmon. I’ll even get a bit of their Atlantic farmed salmon because I know that they have strict standards as to how the fish is farmed, and when I tell the fishmonger what I’m using it for, they’ll recommend it as the best they have.

OK, so let’s talk about this ceviche. It comes from Rafael Palomino, owner of restaurants like Pacifico in New Haven and Sonora in Port Chester, New York, and the main deviation is that I use salmon instead of tuna. As much as I love fresh tuna, it’s been hard to find over the last year, and salmon–particularly Alaskan wild salmon–is a sustainable choice and goes really well with these flavors. 

The ceviche is dead-simple: the salmon marinates for 15 minutes in lime and orange juice, and then you add some avocado, mustard, cilantro, olive oil, and salt and pepper and let them meld for another 15 minutes. The mustard lends a tartare flavor to the dish, but blends well with the citrus juices to make it super-bright and sharp, which is needed to cut through the fattiness of the avocado and the salmon. If skinning salmon isn’t something you want to do, I would suggest asking your fishmonger to do so–it will make preparation that much faster and you won’t have to worry about any errant scales.

We’re past Memorial Day and it’s getting hot, so do yourself a favor and make this ceviche. It will perk up any muggy weekday significantly. Add some tortilla chips for crunch if you like, but it’s also very easy to eat all of this with a fork.

Salmon-avocado ceviche

Adapted from Viva la Vida by Rafael Palomino

Serves four as an appetizer and two hungry people

  • 1 lb salmon, preferably Alaskan salmon or responsibly farmed salmon, skinned and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • Juice of 3-4 limes
  • Juice of ½ orange
  • 1 Hass avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced into ½ inch chunks
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
  • 2 TB dijon mustard
  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • Tortilla chips, for serving (optional)

Combine the salmon and the lime and orange juice into a glass or other non-reactive bowl and stir well to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap (place the plastic directly on the fish) and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl, stir well to combine, recover (again keeping the plastic close to the fish mixture), and refrigerate for 15 minutes. 

To serve, spoon the ceviche into bowls or cocktail glasses and serve with tortilla chips, if desired. Enjoy immediately.

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