, January 11, 2007EXCERPTED FROMVariations on a theme: Ceviche gives chefs a canvas for creativity
By Kevin Pang, Tribune staff reporter | Photography by Jasmin Shah
Ceviche has become the canvas on which local chefs are expressing their culinary creativity, pushing the boundaries of its definition--fresh seafood marinated and "cooked" with the citric acid in citrus juice.
Now, ceviches prepared with green apple, vanilla or watermelon are not uncommon, and have helped this Latin American specialty cross the threshold into food chic.
Three dishes all named ceviche can appear in three different forms at three restaurants. At River North's Nacional 27, a farmed bass ceviche is prepared with grapefruit, serrano chiles and pumpkin seeds. A trio of ceviches at Topolobampo/Frontera Grill on Clark Street highlights regional Mexican ingredients, substituting jicama for onion in some versions. At Rogers Park's Taste of Peru, a ceviche especial of octopus, calamari, shrimp, mussels, scallops and grouper in lime juice arrives with pickled red onions and a side of potatoes, corn and yam.
That the dish (typically served as a starter course) is generally low in fat and high in protein is one factor in growing popularity of ceviche. The ebbing resistance to raw fish, thanks in part to sushi's recent popularity, is likely another.
"Within the last five to eight years, ceviche has really taken off," said Brian Enyart, managing chef at Topolobampo/Frontera Grill. "I got here 10 years ago, and ceviche was cool, but ceviche was still raw fish. Now people are going to ceviche bars, writing ceviche books."
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