The first time I tried ceviche was in Chicago. And before you write me off for associating ceviche with Chicago, I should probably start by saying it was prepared by a pretty legit restaurant. Like, legit enough to win a James Beard Award and a nod from the Michelin Guide. The point is: it was good, believe me.
During that time in my life, I was travelling across the border for work. Weekly. When I wasn't spending 12+ hours commuting or 60+ hours working with a team, I was sitting in my hotel room, solo. And I don't know what you do when you're sitting in a hotel room by yourself, but my inclination is to eat. A lot. Sometime between week 2 and week 3, I discovered a sweet Mexican place with colorful walls and delicious jarred salsas at the front door. I'd convince whatever colleague I could to join me for dinner. And when that failed, I wasn't above a takeout bag and disposable cutlery from its sister restaurant next door. To put it simply: I wholeheartedly embraced all the tacos, guacamole and tamales. So much so, that the zippers on my clothes were getting a bit....tight.
During one of these visits, I gave ceviche a try. The bright citrus flavor and acidity was instantly addictive. It was like a breath of fresh air – and I inhaled it as fast as I could. And as if it couldn't get any better, tortilla chips were the “utensil” of choice. Heck yes. Now that I'm meat-free, a bowl full of fish doesn't hold the appeal that it used to. But that's not to say I don't miss the tangy acidity of ceviche. And with the summer heat that currently has me breaking a sweat after less than five minutes outside, I figured it was the perfect time to re-explore those awesome flavors.
I’ve replicated what I miss most about ceviche: that delicious citrus marinade. All it takes is a bunch of lime juice, a bit of oil and a sprinkling of salt. A traditional ceviche (or at least what I've had) is made with fish and veggies. Since we're going the plant-based route, I loaded up on a variety of colorful veggies and made sure to double-down on creamy avocadoes. The combination is a match made in heaven: luscious chunks of avocado, refreshing bites of cucumber, juicy kernels of corn, and plenty of crunchy red peppers and radishes. And once all these veggies are marinated in the tangy dressing, they have all the flavors of a classic ceviche. Obviously, this ceviche is lacking the texture of raw fish, but I'm sure it's a welcomed omission for any vegetarian or vegan.
There’s one other benefit to this recipe that any guacamole junkie will appreciate. It actually keeps in the fridge overnight. The citrus in the marinade helps preserve the avocado, so that if you have any leftovers, you're still in the clear the next day. Meaning, your avocado chunks won't experience the dark brown death that plagues an oxidizing half-eaten guacamole. Brown avocado isn't sexy, that's for sure. In fact, not only does your avocado stay green the next day – but the flavor actually intensifies as it marinates. Which means your mid-day work snack just got a whole lot better.
To be honest, I initially intended to pair this recipe with a standard store-bought tortilla chip. But after Anguel chose a 'salt-free' bag of tortilla chips that tasted as bland as a plain rice-cake, I realized we needed something much better. And these homemade chili lime chips are the bomb. Seriously. Not only are they much more flavorful than store-bought options, but they're also baked (vs. fried). Lime juice helps to cut down on the oil required, and the zest gives the chips an extra pop of flavor (plus, limes are expensive these days, so you might as well get the most out of them). A generous sprinkling of salt and chili powder rounds out these chips – and the flavor combo works perfectly with the ceviche.
Avocado "Ceviche" and Chili Lime Chips
- ½ cup lime juice
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 avocados, chopped
- ⅔ cup chopped red bell pepper
- ⅔ cup chopped English cucumber chopped
- ⅔ cup fresh corn kernels (about 1 cob)
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced radish
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, deseeded and minced
Baked Chili Lime Tortilla Chips
- 6 small corn tortillas (6-inches / 15 cm)
- 4 teaspoons grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon ancho chili powder, divided (see note 1)
- Preheat: Put racks in the upper- and lower-thirds of the oven; preheat to 350°F (177°F).
- Mix avocado "ceviche": In a medium bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, and salt. Add the avocado, bell pepper, cucumber, corn, radish, onion, cilantro, and jalapeno. Toss gently to coat.
- Marinate "ceviche": Cover and transfer to the fridge. Let sit to marinate, for at least 15 minutes, stirring a couple times to make sure all vegetables are coated.
- Cut tortillas chips: Stack the tortillas. Make four cuts down the stack of tortillas, so each tortilla becomes 8 even pieces. Scatter over two parchment lined baking sheets.
- Season and bake chips: In a small bowl, whisk together grapeseed oil, lime juice, and lime zest. Brush the mixture over both sides of the chips. Sprinkle the tops evenly with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the chili powder. Bake until the chips are golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Chips will continue to crisp as they cool.
- Serve: Taste chips and season with more salt and chili powder if you'd like. Serve with avocado "ceviche".
- Ancho chili powder: If you don't have ancho chili powder, you could substitute with another chili powder you love. Some chili powders are spicier than others, so adjust accordingly.
- Storage tips: Cover and refrigerate avocado ceviche in a small airtight container (placing a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the avocado mixture will further slow browning). Tortilla chips are best eaten on the same day they're made.