Ceviche: The Postmodern Gefilte Fish

Chef Jeff Nathan shatters the boundaries of kosher cuisine.

At Jeff Nathan's pioneering kosher restaurant Abigael's on Broadway, where the chicken is accompanied by chorizo ragout, smoked brisket comes in a Texas-style egg roll, and the Asian fusion Green Tea Lounge offers Korean Short Ribs with kim chee and sashimi doused in ponzu, it's no surprise to find Latin Ceviche in place the Passover staple, gefilte fish.

"Orthodox Jews are different these days," maintains the C.I.A. trained, Beard Award-winning Nathan, who shatters the boundaries of kosher cuisine in his cookbooks, Adventures in Jewish Cooking and Jeff Nathan's Family Suppers, and TV show, "New Jewish Cuisine." "Their palates are expanding," he notes, "they want the dishes they've found in their travels." It's a fast diversifying market, Nathan observes, that has encouraged manufacturers to take on the costly process of certifying a broader range of foods as kosher. "Now we kosher chefs have a palette that's almost as broad as our non-kosher colleagues," Nathan affirms, "balsamic vinegar, blue cheese, venison, bison, even Asian ingredients like pickled ginger and wasabi."

Indeed while some foods like shellfish and pork are completely forbidden, and milk and meat may never be mixed, it's these very proscriptions that draw non-Jewish diners who are lactose intolerant, vegetarian (to kosher dairy restaurants—Abigael's serves meat), Seventh Day Adventists and many Muslims, whose Halal dietary rules are akin to Kosher laws.

Jeff's version of this Latin American appetizer "cooks" thin-fleshed fish like sole and snapper in citric acids.

Latin Ceviche
Yield: 2 quarts, approximately 150 mini spoons or 16 appetizer portions.

2 cups fresh salmon, diced small


1¼ cups fresh sea bass, diced small
1 cup fresh tuna, diced small 
1/2  cup green bell pepper, diced small
1 cup yellow bell pepper, diced small 
3/4 cup red bell pepper, diced small
1¼ cup red onion, diced small
1/3 cup jalapeño, seeded and minced 
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, rough chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
1½ tablespoons sea salt 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a large, non-reactive (glass, ceramic, or stainless steel) bowl, lightly toss the salmon, sea bass and tuna with the diced vegetables and cilantro.

Add olive oil and citrus juices. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until the fish looks opaque, 15 to 20 minutes.

To serve:
As an hors d'oeuvre use decorative teaspoons. As an appetizer, place atop field greens.

Wine Recommendations: Try a Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc; the semi-dry crisp and fruity with intense citrus flavors to complement the lemon and lime. Another option would be a Baron Herzog Sauvignon Blanc. The crisp, dry herbal flavors bring out the refreshing cilantro.

Abigael's on Broadway, 1407 Broadway, New York, NY. 212.575.1407 (www.abigaels.com)

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