Apple-Jicama Ceviche

Apple-Jicama Ceviche

I recently entered a cooking contest at work. We happen to have a wonderful home economics program led by two very dedicated teachers. Every year since 2011 they’ve hosted an Iron Chef cooking contest and for me this is the first year since then that I’m not either pregnant or taking care of small baby at home. My daughter is almost 3 and I decided I could somehow find the energy to participate in the 2014 Iron Chef. Four teachers with student teams participate each year. We were told the two possible ingredients could be apples or pineapples. At first, all I could think of was apple pie or pineapple teriyaki chicken. So I started brainstorming and it wasn’t easy to come up with something unique and tasty. So after sleepless nights and intense Pinterest searches, I came across an apple-jicama salsa by Sunny Anderson. I tested the salsa and it was so fresh and tangy. So I thought why not turn it into a ceviche? And OMG! It’s by far the best ceviche I’ve ever eaten. The apple and jicama with the cured fish is a perfect balance between tart, sweet, and spicy. I could eat this all day long. By the way, the Iron Chef judges loved it so much it won first place!

Apple-Jicama Ceviche

To marinate fish and shrimp:

  • ½ lb. thawed shrimp, diced
  • 2 tilapia fish fillets, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup lemon or lime juice
  • 1/3 cup apple juice
  • Salt

For apple-jicama mixture:

  • 1 small jicama (about the same size of the apple), peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into matchsticks
  • ¼ red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 4 red radishes, thinly sliced (I suggest using a mandolin if you have one)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves (add more if you love cilantro)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
      In a glass bowl or dish, mix shrimp, tilapia cubes, 1 cup of lemon juice, and 1/3 cup of apple juice. Sprinkle with salt, cover, and place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes, or until the fish looks white and the shrimp turns pink. The longer the fish cures in the lemon juice the better.

While the fish and shrimp “cook,” prepare the apple-jicama mixture ingredients. Cut the apple and jicama into matchsticks and then roughly chop.

*I used my mandolin to slice the apple and jicama into matchsticks as well as for slicing the radishes.  This creates a nice balance of flavors and it is better than biting into chunky pieces.

Once the fish and shrimp are cured, drain the lemon juice and add to apple-jicama mixture.

Season with salt and pepper and serve with tortilla chips. Sprinkle with Tajin or cayenne pepper for additional spice.

Cook’s Notes:

  1. Always strain the lemon juice when making ceviche. Seeds will make ceviche taste bitter.
  2. Place cut apples in a bowl of water with a few drops of lemon juice to prevent them from oxidizing (turning brown). Drain the water when ready to use.

En Español

Hace poco entré en un concurso de cocina en la escuela donde trabajo. Resulta que tenemos un maravilloso programa de economía doméstica dirigido por dos profesoras muy dedicadas. Cada año, desde el 2011 han organizado una concurso de cocina Iron Chef y para mí este es el primer año desde entonces que no estoy embarazada o cuidando una bebé pequeña en casa. Mi hija tiene casi 3 y decidí que de alguna manera podría encontrar la energía para participar en el Iron Chef 2014. Cada año participan cuatro maestros con equipos de estudiantes. Nos dijeron que los dos ingredientes posibles podrían ser manzanas o piña. Al principio, lo único que podía pensar era en un pastel de manzana o pollo teriyaki de piña. Así que empecé a pensar intensamente en ideas y no fue fácil formular algo único y sabroso. Así que después de noches de insomnio e intensas búsquedas en Pinterest, me encontré con una salsa de manzana y jícama por Sunny Anderson. He probado la salsa y es tan fresca y picante. Así que pensé ¿por qué no convertirla en un ceviche ? ¡Y que bueno! Es el mejor ceviche que he comido. La manzana y jícama con el pescado curado es un equilibrio perfecto entre acido , dulce y picante. Lo podría comer todo el día. Por cierto, a los jueces de Iron Chef les encantó y este aperitivo se ganó el primer lugar.

Ceviche de Manzana y Jícama

Para marinar el pescado y los camarones :

½ libra de camarones descongelados, en cubos
2 filetes de tilapia, cortados en cubos pequeños
1 taza de jugo de limón o de lima
1/3 taza de jugo de manzana
Sal

Para la mezcla de manzana y jícama :

1 jícama pequeña ( aproximadamente del mismo tamaño de la manzana ), pelada y cortada en juliana
1 manzana Granny Smith , sin corazón y cortadas en juliana
¼ de cebolla roja , picada
1 jalapeño , sin semillas y cortados en cubitos
4 rábanos rojos , rebanados finamente (sugiero utilizar una mandolina si tiene una)
3 cucharadas de hojas de cilantro picado (añadir más si te encanta el cilantro )
1 cucharada de hojas de menta picada
1/4 taza de jugo de limón
1 cucharada de jugo de manzana
2 cucharadas de aceite vegetal
1/2 cucharadita de azúcar
Sal y pimienta recién molida

En un recipiente de vidrio o un plato , mezcle los camarones, tilapia, 1 taza de jugo de limón y 1/3 taza de jugo de manzana. Espolvorear con sal, tapar y colocar en la nevera durante 20-30 minutos, o hasta que el pescado se vea blanco y el camarón se vuelva un color rosado. Cuanto más larga sea la cura del pescado en el jugo de limón, mejor.

Mientras que el pescado y el camarón se “cocinan “, prepare los ingredientes de la mezcla de manzana y jícama. Corte la manzana y la jícama en juliana y luego más o menos pique.

* Usé mi mandolina para cortar la manzana y la jícama en juliana , así como para cortar los rábanos. Esto crea un buen equilibrio de sabores y es mejor que morder trozos gruesos.

Una vez que el pescado y los camarones se curan , escurrir el jugo de limón y agregar a la mezcla de manzana y jícama .

Sazone con sal y pimienta y servir con chips. Espolvorear con Tajín o pimienta de cayena para dar mas sazón.

Notas de la cocinera:

Siempre colar el jugo de limón al hacer ceviche. Las semillas dan un sabor amargo al ceviche.

Coloque las manzanas cortadas en un recipiente de agua con unas gotas de jugo de limón para evitar que se oxiden ( se pongan cafe ). Escurra el agua cuando esté listo para usar.

Pollo a la Cerveza

Salvadorians love all kinds of stewy chicken dishes. My mom makes pollo guisado (chicken stew) about once a week. We make several variations of chicken stew dishes, but one thing these dishes have in common is they’re all part of our comfort food repertoire.

Pollo a la Cerveza
Beer Braised Chicken

1 whole chicken, cut up into pieces or about 2 lbs. thighs and/or breasts
1 onion, thinly sliced into rings
½ lb. bacon, chopped
1 poblano (pasilla) pepper or combination of red and green bell peppers, sliced
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 12 oz. can beer
½ cup pimento stuffed green olives
Salt and pepper al gusto

Begin by browning the bacon in a casserole pan over medium heat. Remove the bacon from the pan using a slotted spoon. Next, brown the chicken in the bacon fat. Season with salt and pepper. Add the onions, sliced peppers, and potatoes. Continue sautéing for about 5 minutes. Finally, pour the beer over the chicken, mix in the olives, and cover. If using boneless chicken, simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Chicken parts with bones should be simmered for 35-40 minutes.

En Español

A los Salvadoreños nos encanta todo tipo de guisados. Mi mamá hace pollo guisado casi una vez a la semana. Hacemos algunas variaciones de platos de pollo guisado, pero una cosa que todos los platos tienen en común es que son todos parte de nuestro repertorio de comida cacera.

1 pollo entero, cortado en trozos o alrededor de 2 libras de muslos y / o pechugas
1 cebolla, cortada en aros finos
½ libra de tocino, picado
1 chile poblano (pasilla) o combinación de chiles rojos y verdes, en rajas
2 papas grandes, peladas y cortadas en cubos
1 lata de cerveza de 12 oz.
½ taza aceitunas rellenas de pimiento morrón
Sal y pimienta al gusto

Comience por dorar el tocino en una cazuela a fuego medio. Retire el tocino de la cazuela con una espumadera. A continuación, dore el pollo en la grasa del tocino. Sazone con sal y pimienta. Añada la cebolla, el chile en rajas y las papas. Continúe sofriendo durante unos 5 minutos. Finalmente, vierta la cerveza sobre el pollo, añada las aceitunas, y cubra. Si se usa pollo sin hueso, cocine a fuego lento por 20 minutos o hasta que el pollo esté bien cocido. Piezas de pollo con huesos deben ser cocinadas a fuego lento durante 35-40 minutos.

Persimmons Galore

Fall is one my favorite seasons. It marks the end of summer and the beginning of the much anticipated cold season, especially here in California where sunny days can get overrated.  If you’re Michigan, then please disregard what I just said. Here in Cali we welcome those “chilly” days when it’s finally in the low 70s and we can pull out the scarves and boots. Yes! Anything below 70 is freezing.

Another thing I love about fall is the delicious bounty of fall fruits and vegetables. In our backyard, the ripening of the persimmons marks the beginning of fall. Persimmons are quite the misunderstood and strange fruit that most people will wonder about but ultimately ignore at farmers markets. They can be quite pricey and only show up in the fall. If you’re wondering, they kind of taste like honey but not as sweet. The texture of the fuyu persimmon is firm and great to eat ripe. As opposed to the hachiya persimmon, which is mushy and pulpy. Our tree is loaded with ripe fuyu persimmons by mid-November and thus begins the search of creative ways to use them.
So, my search this year was made easier with Pinterest, of course. I ran into a couple of great recipes: Persimmon Bundt Cake and Persimmon Jam. I made a few adjustments to the original recipes, only due to preference. Lately I’ve been on a coconut oil kick so I used coconut oil instead of butter for the cake. The flavor of the coconut oil is very subtle but pairs surprisingly well with persimmon. I didn’t have raisins so I used cranberries, plus I added pecans instead of walnuts. I chopped what needed to be chopped in my food processor and I didn’t even bother peeling the persimmon.  And because I’m not big on sweets, I only added 1 cup of maple syrup instead of the sugar that the original recipe called for. It was sweet enough for my taste buds. Enjoy! This cake is the bomb! That’s what we say here in Cali.

Persimmon Bundt Cake
Persimmon Bread

The next thing I tried was persimmon jam. I was a bit skeptical. I had never made any type of jam before, and to be honest with you, I find the jam-making process a bit cumbersome and time consuming. But I gave it a try. The persimmons cooked in the crock pot overnight and the next morning the sweet smell of cinnamon filled the whole house. It was amazing. The smell of fall permeated my senses.

Persimmon Jam
Persimmon Jam

The jam-making process after making the pulp takes about 1 ½ hrs. I tried to cook it down as much as possible. I cooked it over low-medium heat and sometimes on low. Only because it started bubbling like lava and I was afraid to burn myself. It doesn’t gel like a typical jam. It thickens up and spreads nicely though. It will last in your fridge for as long as 6 months if it was canned properly.  Canning isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. There are different ways of doing it but all I did was boil the jars and the tops in a large pot. Then I poured hot jam in the hot jars, sealed them, and immediately turned them upside down. They were allowed to sit on the counter overnight before putting them in the fridge.

Salvadorian Seafood Chowder

When I think of my favorite dish in the world, I think of this “soup.” It takes me back to childhood memories in El Salvador. My parents are seafood lovers and occasionally on weekends, my dad would bring home some fresh seafood and my mom would whip up this soup. It was quite the treat. I have loved seafood for as long as I can remember. Sometimes my dad would go fishing in  a river  or the ocean with a net. I know, it takes you back centuries. Then we would go home and cook up a seafood stew with all the goodies he had caught. Absolutely humble and earthy as it was, we learned the value of cooking with fresh ingredients.

Sopa Cremosa de Mariscos

Seafood Chowder

1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1 Roma tomato, chopped
2 tbsp butter or oil
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup clam juice
2 cups water or fish stock
1 tsp corn starch
1 tsp achiote powder
4 salmon or cod fillets
1/2 lb. jumbo shrimp, deveined and shelled if desired
1lb seafood blend (calamari, scallops, etc.)
Chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish
Salt and pepper- al gusto


In a pot, over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the onions, garlic, celery, bell pepper, & tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking until soft and caramelized. Remove from heat.

Next, blend together heavy cream, clam juice, water, achiote, veggie mixture, and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch as a thickener.

Place the salmon, shrimp and seafood blend in the same pot where you sautéed the veggies and pour the blended cream over the salmon. Add a little salt and pepper and cook for about 10-15 minutes over medium heat.

En Español

Cuando pienso en mi plato favorito, pienso en esta sopa. Es algo que me lleva a los recuerdos de mi infancia en El Salvador. Mis padres son amantes de los mariscos y de vez en cuando en los fines de semana, mi papá traía mariscos frescos a casa y mi mamá hacia esta sopa. Era algo exquisito. He amado los mariscos desde mi niñez. A veces mi papá iba a pescar en un río o en el mar con una red. Yo sé, te lleva a siglos atrás. Entonces nos hibamos a casa a cocinar un guiso de pescado con todos los mariscos que había pescado. Absolutamente humilde como era, aprendimos el valor de cocinar con ingredientes frescos.

1/2 cebolla, picada

2 dientes de ajo, picados

1/2 pimiento o chile verde, picado
1 tallo de apio, picado
1 tomate Roma, picado
2 cucharadas de mantequilla o aceite
1 taza de crema de leche
1 taza de jugo de almeja
2 tazas de agua o caldo de pescado
1 cucharadita de fécula de maíz
1 cucharadita de achiote en polvo
4 filetes de salmón o bacalao
1/2 libra de camarones gigantes, limpios y sin cáscara, si desea
1 libra de mariscos mixtos (calamares, vieiras, etc.)
Cilantro o perejil picado para decorar
Sal y pimienta al gusto


En una olla, a fuego medio, derrita la mantequilla y sofría la cebolla, el ajo, el apio, el chile verde, y los tomates. Sazone con sal y pimienta y continúe la cocción hasta que estén blandas y caramelizadas. Retire del fuego.

A continuación, mezcle la crema de leche, jugo de almeja, el agua, el achiote, la mezcla de verduras y 1 cucharadita de fécula de maíz como espesante.

Coloque el salmón, camarones y el resto de los mariscos en la misma olla donde fueron salteadas las verduras y vierta la crema licuada sobre el salmón. Añada un poco de sal y pimienta y cocine durante unos 10-15 minutos a fuego medio.

Torta de Berro: Watercress Fritatta

What to do with leftover veggies or greens? Make a frittata! I used watercress in this recipe, a super healthy leafy green. It reminds me of baby spinach or arugula, but with a more pronounced and robust, peppery taste, perhaps due to being closely related to radish.

Frittatas are very popular in Salvadorian cooking but we called them tortas. When it comes to Salvadorian tortas, anything goes. Left-overs usually work great in tortas. My mom used to make delicious tortas with left over spaghetti or cooked rice. It’s a delicious way to use any ingredients you have on hand, and as long as you have eggs in your fridge, you’re good to go. Tortas are like open-face omelettes that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Eat just as you would eat an omelette or put it in a sandwich. Here’s the simple recipe for watercress tortas. You will need a good non-stick pan. I prefer to use my crepe pan because it makes it easy to slide onto a plate and flip. My toddler loved this torta. She would eat this over a burger. You can introduce greens very early on and hope that your munchkin will continue to like them.

Ingredients: 

1/4 bunch of watercress (for 1 torta)
2 tablespoons good quality oil or butter (I like to use butter sometimes)
Chopped onions (as much or as little as you want)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 eggs
1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta (optional)

Heat the oil or melt a teaspoon of butter on the pan. Add the onions and let them caramelize a bit, until you hear them sizzle. Rinse watercress (or leafy greens of your choice) and trim off the stems. Add to sizzling onions and toss around to mix. Beat the eggs and add the mixture to the pan. Swirl the pan around to get an even coating. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.Cook on medium heat for a couple of minutes, scraping the edges a lit bit with a spatula. When the top of the torta is almost set, gently lift the edges with a spatula and shake the pan a little bit to loosen it. Next, slide the torta onto a plate. Carefully place the pan over the plate and flip it quickly. Cook for about 30 more seconds, and voilá! Sprinkle some cheese over the torta if you’d like and enjoy it for breakfast, lunch, or quick dinner.