What does a young wife cook for her husband when she has no idea how to cook? That was the major reason why I did not want to ever get married. I was never one of those girls that dreamed about getting married one day. In fact, I often joked about how I would never have kids, have a dozen boyfriends, live on my own by the time I was 21, and about how and if I ever got married, I was going to have a maid and a housekeeper to run my house because I would be rich one day. That was far from my reality by the time I was 22 years old. Here I was, 22 years old, newly married, and no idea of how I was going to make things work. I knew there would be no way I could fake it. I had run away from the kitchen my whole life, and now there would be no turning back and I was petrified to tell my new husband that he would either starve or have to learn to cook for himself. Lucky for me things worked in my favor since the day after my wedding.
Our first honeymoon location was in Mazatlán, Culiacan, Mexico. We had room service and cocktails on the beach and it was wonderful. Our next stop would be the real test. My husband decided we would go to Sinaloa, Culiacan, Mexico because his father lived there and he had not made the trip to the United States for the wedding. When we arrived to his father’s house, we rang the doorbell and he yelled from somewhere in the back of the house. “I’m back here!”. We went towards the back yard and he was sitting on a chair with a table full of ingredients I recognized. Red onions, cilantro, cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh jalapeños, avocados, tostadas, shrimp and octopus. We were making ceviche, the one dish I knew very well.
I grew up with a single mother and every time she went in to the kitchen to cook, she would ask me to go help and I refused because I felt like I had no business in there. My mother was not fond of cooking either so she would typically make dishes that were quick and easy and her idea of a fancy meal was cheese enchiladas topped with cotija cheese and pickled onions, with a side of whole pinto beans and sopa de arroz (Mexican rice). Although we are Mexican, she rarely kept tortillas in the house, so the tortillas were a real treat.
But sometimes there was work to be done in the kitchen because we were going to have guests. This meant, ceviche de pescado (fish). This was her go-to meal for serving up something extra special, but it required help from everyone. My sisters and I chopped the vegetables while she cut up any type of white fish that was on sale and we all got to feast with our family guests. Now, I was a guest at my in laws’ home.
I felt a huge sense of relief because I knew my role immediately when I saw the spread of ingredients that my father in law had for us. In that afternoon, I learned that ceviche was my husband’s favorite meal and that I was already an expert at making it. Through the years, making ceviche became a family tradition in my home. Whenever there is a special occasion or at my children’s request, we sit at the table, grab a knife and chop away at the ingredients to make a delicious ceviche, as a family.
The recipe consists of 4 lbs. or medium shrimp which will need to be peeled and deveined, and finally washed thoroughly.
You will need 2 small cans of baby clams and save the juice of one of the cans:
Next you will need to dice the shrimp and place in a bowl along with the baby clams and the juice from one of cans and put to the side while you prepare your vegetables
You will need the following vegetables:
5 small diced tomatoes
4 diced fresh jalapeños
1 seeded sliced cucumber
1 diced large red onion
1 chopped, small cilantro bunch
1 tablespoon salt
Dash of pepper
5 juiced lemons
8-10 juiced limes
Mix the juice of lemons and limes. Use about ¾ the juice to pour over the shrimp and baby clams. The remainder should be placed in another bowl with all the vegetables.
The next step is to leave the shrimp and baby clams, and the mixed vegetable soaking with the lemon and lime juice mixture in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
The final step is to mix all the ingredients into one bowl and add the salt and pepper:
Enjoy as an appetizer or main dish on a tostada or with tortilla chips.
You can turn this recipe into a fun activity with family or friends by getting everyone to help chopping and preparing while talking at the table. It is a great opportunity to sit together and chat.