Introduction: Shellfish Ceviche in Lemon Cups
This is a very simple and refreshing dish, perfect for summertime. I hope you enjoy it.
6 Lemons (plump as you can get them)
1/2 pound raw shrimp
1/4 pound cooked crab meat
1 ripe tomato
1 medium sized shallot
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
Olive Oil (optional)
Step 1: Making the Lemon Cups/Juicing the Lemons
Cut your lemons in half then cut off the tips just enough so that the lemons will sit flat, but not so much that you cut through the cavity you're about to make.
Over a bowl and using a grapefruit spoon, small knife or just a regular teaspoon, cut into the pith just outside of the lemon flesh. Make a small shallow cut at first, then slowly cut deeper all around the inside until all or most of the flesh can be removed.
This may take a little practice. All lemons are different and some have a very thin pith that makes this process difficult. You may have to scrape the insides out to get any of the remaining bits. Don't worry though, as long as you get most of the insides out while not piercing the lemon anywhere, you're good to go.
When you've made your cups place them on a sheet pan or large plate and put them in the freezer until they are ready to be filled. (Ceviche is a dish that is best served cold. Freezing the lemon cups helps this greatly and it also gives some structural integrity to them)
Juice the lemon flesh as best you can. This can be done any way you see fit (by hand/citrus juicer, even in a blender or food processor) just make sure to filter out any seeds or fibrous material leaving you nothing but pure lemon juice. When all is done you should have about 1/2 cup of juice. Place in the refrigerator to chill.
Step 2: "Cooking" the Shrimp
In an honest and true ceviche acidity is the only cooking agent involved. If this is route you choose, cut up the shrimp into bit 1/2 inch chunks and cover them in your lemon juice, you can add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt here if you like. Put in the refrigerator and let sit (cook) for at least two hours. When the shrimp appears white and plump having absolutely no opaque or raw looking chucks then you're good to go. If it doesn't look like that, let it sit in the lemon juice longer until it does.
If you'd like to speed up the process you can blanch the shrimp in some salted boiling water for no more than 1 minute, any longer and they'll get rubbery. Immediately take them out of the water and place them in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Then add the lemon juice and place in the refrigerator. Blanching them doesn't fully cook the shrimp, so you still need to cure them in the lemon juice. However using this method they'll only need about an hour or so to fully "cook".
Step 3: Adding the Vegetables and Crab Meat
While your shrimp is "cooking". Dice up your shallots, garlic and jalapeño. Mix them into the shrimp and lemon juice about half an hour after you put them in the fridge.
While the shallots, garlic and jalapeño are marinating with the shrimp remove as much of the seeds and liquid from both the tomato and cucumber as you can and dice them up into small and relatively even chunks. Put them in a bowl or high sided flat container and add 1/2 to 1 whole teaspoon of salt depending on how much salt you like. You can add a small drizzle of olive oil too just for some richness, but you don't have to. Mix it well and let it sit on the counter for about a half an hour so the salt can intensify the flavors.
When the salt has done it's thing, add the tomato/cucumber chunks to the shrimp/lemon juice. Also add your crab meat and place back in the fridge for another 20-30 or so minutes just so all the flavors meld together and the entire mixture gets nice and cold. Since the crab meat is already cooked, you don't have to worry about it cooking so no need to add it any sooner than at this time. If your container is starting to get too full and the liquid isn't covering the entire mixture anymore, add some more lemon juice until it just covers everything.
Step 4: Final Additions & Serving
While the nearly finished ceviche is chilling. Toast the pumpkin steads in a dry pan for a few minutes, moving them constantly until they start to pop and they turn a golden color. Be careful with them though. There are only a few seconds between nicely toasted and burnt. Once toasted place on a flat surface and allow them to cool for a few minutes.
While the seeds are cooling dice up the avocado and chop the cilantro. Then gently fold them in to the ceviche with the pumpkin seeds. The avocado and crab meat are pretty delicate so you don't want to break them up too much. You can add some fresh cracked pepper here if you like, but you don't have to.
Once you've got everything mixed well just scoop them into your now frozen lemon cups. Serve immediately or put them back into the fridge until you're ready to serve them. If you're taking them to a party or something, transport them in a cooler. Warm ceviche = no bueno.
This is a fun and easy dish and can easily be changed into whatever you like by adding different herbs, vegetables or other kinds of citrus juice. The only thing you absolutely need to make sure if that the shrimp are fully cooked. You don't want to eat or serve them until they are. Hope you enjoy it!
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