Wednesday, July 23, 2008

ahi tuna ceviche and the best food memories

I passed by a new fish store in Queens on my way home from the train and noticed they had some really good looking sushi-grade tuna. When I see tuna that beautiful, I never think of making sushi, I think of Timo's, the incredible Spanish tapas restaurant where I worked for a few years during my time in San Francisco. Carlos, the French trained chef and owner, is the man who taught me about good ingredients and innards, how to play backgammon and tell a good dirty joke and ultimately how to eat.

His menu, which wasn't limited to the food of Spain but all over the Spanish speaking world still makes my mouth water: the best Spanish tortilla I've ever eaten, which I would eat topped with a Romesco sauce to die for and Ajiaco, a delicious Columbian chicken-potato soup topped with a bit of avocado and creme-frâiche that I still look for in colombian restaurants and never find. He had a chicken dish from Vallodolid, Mexico, a perfectly char-grilled chicken quarter set in a spicy peppery broth with fresh pickled onions and a grilled jalapeño on top--when you cut open the jalapeño the flavors would fire-up--a really perfect dish (and the reason I went to Vallodolid, Mexico... twice. Timo's was better). There was a beautifully pan-fried codfish-potato cake, Bacalao, with a cilantro sauce so habit forming I think I ate it every night for two months. Oh, and there was so many was and still is my comfort food. Oh what I would give for one day back--although sadly it closed it's doors a few years ago.

But the tuna ceviche was my favorite. I still make a lot of his old recipes and I make Timo's ceviche at least once a summer when my habañeros pop out and I can get tuna as nice what I found the other day. This ceviche is made a little creamier by way of the avocado and it's perfect with a bit of crusty bread or fresh tortilla chips. We made it the other night with some simple patatas bravas (my little bliss potatoes from the farmer's market!) and fresh aiolli.

Timo's Ahi Tuna Ceviche
reprinted with permission from the man himself--check out his blog
(for more recipes go to won't be sorry)
1 lb. very fresh sushi-grade ahi
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1-2 chopped tomatoes juice, pulp and all
1 habañero chile, seeded and minced
2 oz olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp crushed oregano
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
1 small red onion, sliced very thin
1/2 cup minced cilantro
1 avocado, peeled and chopped

In Carlos' words "Don't listen to all that bullshit about the fish having to sit in the lime juice for hours so it can "cook". Just use some good sushi-grade tuna, (cut it into small chunks and put in large mixing bowl) cover it with the lime juice, season it and mix it with the rest of the ingredients and just start eating."
I totally agree.


heidi said...

That looks amazing! Tell me the name of the fish place in queens?

Anonymous said...

What lovely memories and what delicious foods you just listed you can you open an b&b that serves three meals a day and has you talking about your travels and parting gifts from your collection!!
so can you?

Bonbon Oiseau said...

heidi--it's a little fish place near the 61st & woodside station---i bet you can get sushi-grade at whole foods as well?

nadia: ha! Just come over for dinner sometime! I can bore you for a loooooong time with this stuff!

AC said...

Owww! I chipped a tooth trying to take a bite out of my monitor. Those all look delicious!

heidi said...

Deb, i'm in that area sometimes, since my hubby works in L.I.C. This is how we found Sri, & SO many other restaurants of supreme deliciousness.

Elizabeth said...

Hey, thanks so much for your comments on my blog. I'm so happy to have found yours, it's fabulous! And I am crazy about ceviche so I'm going to make this for sure. Enjoy Vancouver Island. We were in the Tofino/Ucluelet area in Pacific Rim National Park and loved it. I recommend trying some kayaking if you have time!
Nice to meet you Bonbon Oiseau. I'll be back often.

molly said...

your constant gorgeous cooking and your full-blown food garden blow my mind, deb.