During my many years as a chef, I have spent much of my career and vacation time traveling to Belize, which is one of my favorite places. My wife’s family, as well as half my family, are from Belize, and we visit them often.
The recipe I have for you today is my take on a dish that is commonly served in Belize, Lobster Ceviche. In Be-lize, local spiny lobsters are readily available. The local divers will sell them live right from their boats. I have added a few subtle changes to the recipe by adding coconut. As the banquet chef at Tulalip Resort Casino, at times, I am able to incorporate some of the cooking styles and dishes that I have learned from my time working in the Caribbean.
Another nice aspect to this recipe is if lobster is too expensive or isn't readily available, you can make a simpler version of this recipe by substituting medium-sized shrimp. In Belize, habanero pepper is added to ceviche be-cause it should have some heat, but many people do not like food to be very spicy, so I used jalapeño peppers instead of habanero. If you like it spicier, just add some of your favorite hot sauce or double the jalapeños or add the seeds.
The ceviche is excellent as an appetizer, or you could also place it on top of greens to make a nice seafood salad.
Enjoy a little taste of the Caribbean.
Yields 6 to 8 - 20 ounce portions
2 6-ounce lobster tails (or approx. 12 ounces worth of lobster tails), thawed
3 cups water
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon salt
5 limes, juiced, remove seeds
2 tablespoons coconut oil
½ cup yellow onions, ¼ inch diced
½ cup tomatoes, ¼ inch diced, no seeds
2 tablespoons jalapeño peppers, minced (or 1 small seeded and minced)
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons shredded coconut, toasted
Corn tortilla chips, as desired
Preparing Frozen Lobster
Take a chef’s knife and place it at the edge of the lobster tail facing the body and firmly slit the tails by cutting through the shells until almost entirely through the shells by pulling the blade down to the cutting board.
With your hand, fold the tails in half to make them flat, which will expose the meat. This may require breaking the underside of the shell with your fingers. From the thick part of the lobster tail begin pulling up on the meat away from the shell by pulling out towards the tail fins. With a firm grip on the lobster, pull up to remove the meat from the shell. Rinse the shell and lobster meat under cold water to clean and remove any shell pieces. Also, remove the grey vein which is the lobster’s intestine and may contain sand.
Making the base
- Place water, salt, coconut milk and lobster shells into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, removing shells.
- While the stock is being made, place the lobster tails on a cutting board and cut in half lengthwise. Then, cut each side of the lobster tail in half again, followed by turning them sideways and slice the meat into 1/4 inch discs or cubes.
- Juice the limes.
- Briefly poach the lobster meat
- Have a bowl with ice water ready along with a strainer (preferably a bowl-shaped strainer).
- Place the lobster meat in the boiling coconut broth and stir. Boil for about 30-40 seconds. Dip the lobster meat in the ice water until cool, remove and drain.
- You can reserve the coconut lobster broth to make a soup at a different time or discard it.
- Place lobster meat in a clean bowl and coat with the lime juice. Take another dish to lightly press the lobster meat so it will stay submerged in the lime juice, or stir once or twice while it is soaking in the lime juice. Leaving the lobster in the lime juice for 2 hours maximum. Remove and drain thoroughly. This will denature (or cook) the lobster meat the rest of the way.
Preparing the vegetables, herbs and coconut
- While the lobster is marinating, slice the vegetables and herbs as well as, toasting the coconut in a sauté pan on low heat until golden brown and reserve.
- Place a clean sauté pan on medium heat and add the coconut oil and onions, sautéing for 1 minute. Stir mixture and immediately remove from heat to let cool. Add jalapeño peppers and tomatoes.
Combing the ingredients
- Once cooled, thoroughly toss the lobster meat with all of the vegetables and cilantro mix. Taste and season as needed. If you prefer it to be spicier add some of your favorite hot sauce or additional jalapeño peppers to the dish.
Serving the ceviche
- To serve, place on a large dish surrounded with corn tortilla chips. To garnish, top the ceviche with the toasted coconut. For an additional garnish, you can cut the tail fins away from the lobster shell with scissors and display the fanned tails with a little cilantro.
Ceviche is a dish that is prepared by soaking the seafood in citric acid as the cooking process. This breaks down the cell structure of the meat in a similar way that heat does. You can make ceviche by using many types of fish (preferably a white fish) scallops, shrimp, calamari, octopus, and even clams and mussels. You can also use a variety of citrus fruits such as oranges, limes, blood oranges and grapefruit.
This process is best done when only using fresh raw fish or shellfish. Shellfish which has been previously frozen, I recommend briefly poaching it, but not enough to cook it. This is an extra step that I like to use, making sure to kill any possible bacteria and the result is still a very nice ceviche.