Seafood is most certainly a New England staple, and it’s one that you can do hundreds of different things with. In this podcast, we’ll be discussing a delicious ceviche shrimp calamari mojo recipe that any seafood enthusiast is sure to love.
John Maher: Hi. I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Chef Ned Grieg, executive chef at Woodman’s and the Essex Room in Essex, Massachusetts. We’re doing a series of podcasts on spring recipes. Today, we’re talking about small plate tapas, ceviche shrimp, and calamari mojo. Welcome, Ned.
Ned Grieg: Good afternoon, John.
An Introduction to Tapas
John: Ned, we had another podcast recently where we talked about tapas and a little bit about where that came from, but give us the brief rundown of what tapas are.
Ned: Tapas is technically known — it’s a Spanish word that means “small plates.” Traditionally consumed at a bar or in smaller portions at a table. Usually, you can share it with your guests or whoever you’re having a cocktail or libation with, or you could simply have it for yourself.
Technically, it’s a smaller version of a full‑scale meal, where you get to taste a number of things when you go to a tapas bar. You’re not having just one item. You may be trying four or five different things in much smaller portions.
John: They might be very different things.
Ned: Correct. Think of it as being bigger than a hors d’oeuvre that would be passed at a cocktail party or a wedding, but smaller than something that you get for sitting down for dinner.
What is Ceviche?
John: “Ceviche.” What’s that?
Ned: Ceviche is marinated seafood. It’s marinated and cooked by using lime juice. It does not really ever hit the grill. It’s not heated in any other way. But through the curing process of using lime juice, it totally cooks it. In this case, we used a shrimp and calamari.
To be quite honest with you, though, to be true ceviche, you would never blanch it off. But when I make it up here for guests that are consuming it here, I will blanch off the seafood a little bit, maybe 10 to 15 seconds, so I know it’s set.
Having sushi is one thing. Having raw calamari and doing shrimp for 250, or 300 people, you can pretty much bet you’re going to have a hundred people who would not prefer to have it that way. When our wait people are passing it around, they’ll say, “Yes, this is fully cooked through marination as well as a light blanching process in hot water.”
John: To ease people’s minds.
John: So that they know that it’s actually cooked.
Ned: For me, there’s no food thrown on the table. I’m fine with the way it is.
Putting the Ceviche Together
Ned: This is a nice, little, small plate. The calamari and the shrimp work well together. But to make it look like it has more color when we serve it in little miniature glasses. It’s seasoned with garlic, fresh ginger, sea salt, black pepper, virgin olive oil, lime juice, and white wine.
But that’s not enough. That’s the marinade. That’s what gives you all the flavor with the seafood. But we needed more color in the dish when we made it. Again, I took different colored peppers, green, yellow, and red, plus poblano to give it a little bit of heat and English cucumbers.
What I did is I took all these vegetables and you julienne them, but then you take the julienne and you dice them up. That term is called “brunoise.” There are small, small little specks I’ve got mixed in with this beautiful broth called “The Excelsior,” that marinated the calamari and the shrimp.
How to Plate & Serve the Ceviche Mojo
Once it was all put together, we put them into these miniature glasses with a lobster fork or a little Demitasse spoon. Sprinkle with a touch of cilantro on top. We can make all those up. They’re actually best not to have really, really cold, but probably about 40 degrees, not any warmer. But the flavors come out if you keep it anywhere between 38 and 45 degrees.
The seafood and the liquids taste beautiful. We plated it with a spinach salad that we adorned it with candied pecans and roasted golden beets. Then I made a vinaigrette that was made out of a Pinot Noir and basil to give it some more flavor. Then, obviously, the flavors look good. It’s a great thing to serve.
We have done this as a salad served to guests, [as] our first course. We’ve also used it out on a tasting station at some of the weddings that we’ve done. I use golden beets because they’re a different color. They’re actually a little bit sweeter than red. Also, if you’re serving something that’s going to potentially stain somebody’s white dress, you’ve got to find another option.
That’s why I use the golden beets. The Pinot Noir, it’s a lighter red wine, so that’s not so bad. I could have done it with a Pinot Grigio, I suppose. But for some reason, I decided to use red wine there. But this is a lovely dish. I love ceviche. I’ve seen Anthony Bourdain eat it all over the world. It seems to be one of his favorite foods behind Serrano hams and things like that.
Substitutions & Tips
Ned: You should try it some time. Don’t be intimated by making ceviche at home. If you don’t like calamari, use really good tuna, because most people won’t eat a fish rare or medium rare. They would say, “OK, tuna I can handle that.” That might be something that you might want to try.
John: Because normally you have tuna that little bit rare.
Ned: Correct. If you went and bought sushi, unless you’re doing the smoked eel, most of your seafood, or crab, it is rare. It’s never been cooked. Doing ceviche is actually one step further. You are cooking it, but you’re not masking it with the flavor of soy sauce and wasabi. You’re enhancing it in a different way.
John: I don’t think a lot of people think of making their own vinaigrette either for it. But that sounds like it would be very easy to do.
Ned: It’s important to have the lime juice in it, because that will cure your seafood. There’s no doubt about that. I put some white wine in to back off somewhat, because lime juice can be quite strong. You can squeeze your own. There’s a brand out there you can buy that’s called “Nellie and Joe’s.” It comes from the Key West.
When we go through so much of it, we actually get “Fresh frozen lime and lemon juice” that come in quarts. We buy it by the case, because we go through so much of it.
What to Serve with Ceviche
John: Do you think it would be a good idea since these are ‑‑ like we said ‑‑ small plate tapas, make this and make a couple of other type tapas type of things and serve it together as a meal?
Ned: Yeah. You probably wouldn’t want to do another seafood one or a salad. You already have those two items done. Maybe you want to go and get a piece of Skirt steak, or a flat meat or some tenderloin and char it off on the grill. Serve it with grilled scallions. Then make yourself a little miso drizzle to put over the top of it with a ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and a touch of brown sugar.
That would taste really good with some crusty French bread. I’m going to go home and make that for dinner tonight, I think.
Ned: But that would be a fun thing to do. But it’s the whole idea of making small portions of items. If you’re going to have a little tapas party, a few guests come over, do this ceviche one. Then do something with red meat. You can Google all these things. You can find so many different things out there.
Or you can make a trilogy of different types of sliders. You can make one out of lamb. You could make one out of roasted roma tomatoes. You could do one out of black bean and grilled vegetables, and serve them without the bread. Forget about the bread. Just make the sliders. That would be a fun little treat to do for your guests as well.
John: Thanks again for speaking to me today and for walking us through that. That sounds like a great recipe.
Ned: You’re welcome, John. Enjoy this Ceviche Shrimp Calamari Mojo recipe everyone!
John: For more information, you can visit Woodman’s at woodmans.com or the Essex Room at essexroom.com. Make sure you tune in next time for the next in our series of podcasts on spring recipes.
Note: this recipe is intended for catering and measurements may need to be scaled down for individual or family use.
Tender Calamari & Shrimp Ceviche Marinated in Cumin, Garlic, Lime Juice & Cilantro
Embellished With Cucumber, Colored Pepper & Cilantro
Teasingly Plated With Roasted Beets, Candied Pecans & Spinach Drizzled With A Pinot Noir Basil Vinaigrette
100: 2.5 Ounce Portions Ceviche
100: 1.75 Ounce Portions Salad
Small Plate Tapas: Ceviche Shrimp & Calamari Mojo
Quantity & Unit Of Measure
Thinly Sliced & Blanched
Sliced In Half & Blanched
Cracked Black Pepper
Virgin Olive Oil
Seeded & Finely
Chopped Bell Pepper: Green
Seeded & Finely Chopped
Chopped Bell Pepper: Red
Seeded & Finely Chopped
Chopped Bell Pepper: Yellow
Seeded & Finely Chopped
Roasted & Finely Diced
Raspberry Pinot Vinaigrette
- Place Shrimp & Calamari Into A Clean Ceramic Or Glass Container.
- Mix The Next 12 Ingredients Together & Pour Over Shrimp & Calamari.
- Refrigerate For At Least 2 Hours.
- Just Before Serving Add Cilantro.
- Place Into Petite Glasses, Ladle Excelsior/Liquids Over.
- Toss Spinach With Vinaigrette.
- Garnish With Golden Beets, Candied Pecans