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Costa Azul Ceviche

June 22, 2010
By Wendy Monro

This week I was surprised by a visit from an old friend, Peggy, and her 10-year-old son, Michael.

She and I have been friends since the third grade.

We grew up together on the same street. In fact, our houses were four houses apart. We were together almost every day for 15 years on that street.

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Enjoying the ceviche: (pictured from l-r): Jack Monro, Michael (Peggy Carr’s son), Peggy Carr and Daphne Monro.

She told me she was shocked to discover that I am writing about food and that I love to cook.

I am not sure why that seemed so odd to her; but, she never thought of me as a person who would enjoy cooking.

Then again, I remember she was shocked to learn that I was pregnant 12 years ago with Daphne. She didn't think I was a person who would ever want to have children either.

Fact Box

1 lb. raw shrimp, chopped into small pieces

3 carrots, diced very small

2 cucumbers, seeded and diced very small

1 yellow onion, diced very small

3 serrano peppers, seeded and diced very small

1/2 C. cilantro, chopped finely

1/2 C. olive oil

Juice from 6 limes

Juice from 1 orange

Juice from 1 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

3 avocados, sliced

Tortilla chips

Combine all of the ingredients above (except for the avocados and tortilla chips). Mix together. The juice has to completely cover the ingredients. So, you may have to add more juice if it is not enough. If you need more juice, make it lime juice. It is hard to tell just how much juice you will get out of the limes. Just make certain the ingredients are saturated in the citrus juice. Then, place the avocado slices on top. Cover everything and place in the refrigerator for twenty minutes or longer. You can make this up to two days in advance. When you are ready to serve it, have tortilla chips to eat it with.

Maybe she doesn't know me very well after all. Oh well, I love her whether or not she knows who I am.

Anyway, she and her son Michael came to my house for a visit and stayed for a week.

It was nice reminiscing and getting caught up on what has happened since we saw each other last.

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We talked about her aunt's restaurant in El Monte, California. It was called Costa Azul. It was a Mexican restaurant.

I was sad to hear that her family recently sold the place.

The great thing about this restaurant, which had been in Peggy's family for at least as long as I have known her, is that everyone in the family always knew they had a place to come where they would be fed.

Also, if anyone ever needed a job in Peggy's family, they could come and work at the restaurant. It created a lot of stability for Peggy's family as she and her sisters and cousins were growing up. So, it's heartbreaking to think they don't have that anymore.

What they do still have are some of those delicious recipes from Costa Azul.

Peggy wanted to teach me how to prepare her family's recipe for ceviche.

Ceviche is a dish whose origin is debatable.

Some think it is Spanish others believe it originated in Polynesia.

Ceviche is a seafood dish where the fish is "cooked" in citrus juice.

The acids in the citrus actually cook the fish.

There is no heat involved in the preparation. This was a meal Peggy knew how to make from years of going to and working at the restaurant and she was very good at making it.

Her son Michael concurred.

Claud and I love ceviche; so, she didn't have to ask twice before we were driving to the market with our list.

Claud makes a delicious ceviche with three types of fish, scallops, avocado and cilantro.

I was surprised to learn that Peggy's recipe only used shrimp as the seafood.

She also included carrots, cucumber, Serrano peppers, and onions, which sounded interesting.

Once we were home with all of our ingredients, we began cooking. Peggy wanted everything diced up into very small pieces.

She said this was a very important part of the preparation. I diced it all by hand; but, I think I might use a food processor next time to make it much faster.

Michael came into the kitchen and started cutting everything up with us. He knew what he was doing.

This little boy had obviously done this before.

Before we knew it, everything was properly diced and ready to be tossed together. We used a combination of limes, orange, and lemon juice for the citrus marinade.

I asked if we could add in some chopped cilantro. Peggy agreed that this would add some good flavor.

We mixed it all together along with some olive oil, salt and pepper, threw in a couple slices of avocado, covered it and placed it into the fridge to "cook".

Twenty minutes later, we pulled it out.

We were like savages, waiting impatiently with a plate of tortilla chips in hand. We may have been drooling.

Once we were all served, we dug in. It was so delicious. Jack even had a couple of bites and he never touches seafood.

The rest of us seafood lovers ate what we were served and spooned out seconds and even thirds.

Peggy was right; she is great at making ceviche.

This recipe is so easy to make and tastes so delicious. Peggy may not have the Costa Azul anymore but the recipes and the passion for good food can live on.

Try this recipe as something new to bring to a pool party or barbeque. It's light and perfect for summertime eating.



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