If you are an Arkansan, you know that fixing fish for the dinner table means rolling it in seasoned corn meal and frying. OK, bake it for health feel-good.
There are alternatives and tasty ones.
Ever tried white bass tacos? Or bream scampi? Or ceviche?
These were some of the fish dishes recently prepared at a media outing and were done by members of the Communications Division of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The cooking was over charcoals in small grills in a Little Rock park.
If an after-eating poll had been taken, the ceviche would have won.
Ceviche? No, not everyone knows what it is nor does everyone know how to pronounce the word. It is "suh-VEECH-ee." At that recent park event, the ceviche was prepared by Trey Reid, a writer and videographer for AGFC who is an experienced hand in preparing dishes from assorted creatures from the wild.
Ceviche is raw seafood "cooked" by marinating in citrus juices, usually lime or lemon. Ceviche is not sushi.
The history of ceviche is somewhat hazy, but most sources say it evolved in South America with Peru often cited. There are some links to Spain too.
Variations are numerous in ceviche, and like many foods of ethnic origins, it often depends on what is available. Ceviche can be used as a party food, an appetizer or a main dish. Almost any type of fish or shellfish can be the main ingredient. Reid used crappie for his offering at the media event. His recipe:
1 pound crappie fillets
4-5 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves
Kosher salt to taste
1/2 small onion, diced
1 Roma tomato, diced.
1 avocado, diced
4-5 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Cut the crappie into small pieces, one-half to one-inch chunks. Place crappie chunks in a glass bowl and squeeze limes into the bowl until the fish is completely covered. Press garlic into the bowl and stir. Add salt and half of the jalapenos into the mixture and stir. Place mixture into a refrigerator, uncovered, for 8 to 12 hours.
Strain the excess lime juice from the fish mixture, and add onion, tomato, avocado and cilantro. Stir gently to combine everything. Serve immediately with tortilla chips.
The crappie was what Reid had available, and like most Arkansans, he rates crappie as highly desirable for eating. Bream fillets would do well as an alternate in his ceviche. So would several other fish species found in Arkansas.
For serving, along with Reid’s suggestion of tortilla chips, ceviche can be offered as a hearty salad by serving over shredded or chopped lettuce or over baby spinach leaves. It can be spooned over a variety of crackers for appetizers. Taco filling? Yes.
Ceviche does well as a patio food, a picnic dish or a tailgating item.
And look over those ingredients – healthy, low or no saturated fat and nutritious items all the way.
Joe Mosby is the retired news editor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas’ best known outdoor writer. His work is distributed by the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.