On The Range: Ceviche

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On The Range is a weekly exploration of the history and lore of Texas menu items.

Ceviche is marinated seafood, so it should come as no surprise that Mexico and nearly every country in Central and South America with a coastline features it in their cuisine.

In an article entitled 'The Many Incarnations of Ceviche,' food writer Jami English compares the dish to Japanese sashimi and Italian crudo as an exhibition of the beauty of local seafood in its purest state. "Peruvian ceviche is arguably the simplest and most classic form of the dish. This version uses lime juice and onion as a base, and a firm-fleshed white fish, traditionally shark, sole, or corvina (sea bass). Octopus and shellfish, particularly shrimp, clams, and mussels, are also common ingredients depending on region. The Ecuadorian adaptation uses tomato in addition to citrus and is finished with a crunchy popcorn or nut garnish. Mexican ceviche gets an extra acidic boost from sliced onions, and Panama adds heat with Scotch bonnet peppers."

Chef Rafael Palomino, in his cookbook Bistro Latino named in honor of his famed former NYC restaurant, confirms that just about any fish that swims in waters warmed by the Humboldt Current can be used to make ceviche.

When he was researching the dish in the Miraflores district of Lima, Peru, he stumbled upon an unexpected benefit from its preparation. "In addition to ceviches of clam, conch, shrimp, snapper, mackerel, and countless others, I discovered there a lively concoction called leche de tigre---tiger's milk. Limenos (denizens of Lima) are so dedicated to ceviche that they drink the lime juice the ceviche is marinated in, spiked with plenty of sea salt, as a remedy for too many Pisco Sours the night before."

This helpful method is seconded by hostesses Carolina Buia and Isabel Gonzalez in their book Latin Chic: "In Ecuador, they say it cures you of the chuchaquis, the 'mean reds,' aka, a hangover."

Here in Dallas, Stephan Pyles is the acknowledged master of ceviche, featuring no fewer than eight variations of the fishy dish on the menu of his eponymous restaurant, and he will be happy to give you a tasting of all eight, including lobster, for the princely sum of $74.

If your Lotto numbers didn't match, El Fogon Restaurant, lists all manner of Ecuadorian, Peruvian, and Latin dishes on their menu, including several ceviches. The Ecuatoriana version mixes shrimp and/or fish in tomato puree with thinly sliced red onion, bell peppers, cilantro, and fresh lime, served with plantain chips. A perfect hot-weather lunch, this dish is light yet surprisingly filling. El Fogon also carries a separate late-night menu for the bar crowd, and boasts an all-day Happy Hour.

Sounds like a good spot to prepare a hangover so you can test that tiger's milk theory.

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