Cook of the Week Recipes: Stephanie Rhea Barcia

By NEMS Daily Journal

Ceviche de Pescado
(Fish Ceviche)
2 pounds ahi tuna, swordfish or shark, finely diced
Salt to taste
20 key limes, divided
1 large red onion, diced finely
4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
2 bell peppers, finely diced
2 to 3 hot peppers (red chiles or serranos), sliced (optional)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped finely
1 (12-ounce) can V8 juice
2 to 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
Sliced avocado
Steamed white rice

Place raw fish pieces in a glass dish and cover with salt and the juice from about 10 limes. The fish should be completely covered by lime juice. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours. The fish will “cook” in the citrus juice.
Place diced red onion in a bowl and cover with warm water and salt. Let onion rest for at least 10 minutes, then drain and rinse well. Add key lime juice to coat.
Once the fish is “cooked” in the lime juice, rinse it well. In a large non-reactive bowl, combine fish with red onion, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, cilantro, V8 juice, sunflower oil and juice of remaining key limes. Refrigerate before serving.
Serve with rice, sliced avocado and chifle (recipe follows).

Chifle
(Fried Green Plantain)
Green plantains or green bananas
Canola oil
Salt

Peel the green plantains and slice into thin rounds.
Heat oil in a deep sauté pan or fryer to between 375 and 400 degrees. There should be enough oil to fully cover the plantains. Add plantains to hot oil. Do not overcrowd. Fry until chips are golden in color. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
Sprinkle with salt and serve warm or at room temperature.

Plantanos Maduros Fritos
(Fried Plantains)
2 ripe plantains (they’ll be black)
1 tablespoon canola or sunflower oil

Peel plantains and slice in half lengthwise or cut plantain in half and then slice the halves lengthwise.
Heat oil over medium heat in a large frying pan and add plantains. They’ll cook very quickly, so make sure to turn them before they burn. Cook until golden on each side. If the plantain flesh is still pink or white, that means they’re not done yet. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Serve warm.

Menestra
2 to 3 tablespoons canola oil
1 red onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup peeled, diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)

12 teaspoon achiote powder (can be purchased at Hispanic grocery store)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
8 cups water
1 pound dried lentils, soaked overnight
2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Heat oil over medium heat in a saucepan or pot. Add onions and garlic and let cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, achiote powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water and bring to a boil. Add soaked beans and simmer for about 2 hours. Add chopped cilantro.
Note: A menestra would not be a true menestra without the essential side dishes: Rice to help soak up the sauce the beans simmered in; fried ripe plantains (Maduros); avocado slices; and a small side salad made of onion and tomato and drizzled with lime juice. Your choice of fried or grilled meat rounds out the dish.