My hunter/fisherman buddy, Ray Ryan, called the day before my birthday. Said he had just caught some largemouth bass on one of his fishing expeditions. Would I like some? I never say no to Ray.
Within minutes he’s at the door with a Ziplock baggie filled with four of the most pristine fillets I’ve ever seen or sniffed. What to do with them?
Sharon and Tony and Maggy and Andy were coming for dinner. With David and me, that made six. How to stretch those four fillets?
It was a hot and the fish could hardly be fresher. It didn’t take long for me to think ceviche.
And I knew I had the perfect formula.
Back in 1996 I had worked with Stephanie Lyness on scallop ceviche recipe for Cook’s Illustrated. Her formula—1/2 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup lime and/or lemon juice—was spot on. Her recipe called for one pound of scallops, and I had exactly one pound of largemouth bass. Perfect.
I thin-sliced the fish fillets and added them to the cool pool of citrus. For texture, flavor, and color I added a mix of red, yellow, and green bell, along with jalapeno peppers, a little red onion, and some cilantro. And salt… lots of salt!
Thirty minutes later we were all sitting down to goblets of classy, sassy ceviche. Thanks you Ray, for your gift of fish. Along with Sharon’s Watermelon Gin Punch and Maggy’s Banoffee Pie, it made for one of the best birthday dinners I’ve had in a long time… maybe even ever.