Halibut is a staple of our Northern California fishery. It’s a lean and firm whitefish that works beautifully in ceviche, a dish that uses acid—in this case lime juice—to “cook” the fish. The combination of sashimi-grade fish, lime juice, and chiles is a simple preparation that yields extraordinary flavor. At Handline, our summer season version of halibut ceviche is called Popotla Verde, Popotla being a small fishing village near Rosarito, Mexico. During the summer we have the halibut available for sale at our fish market, so you can use the exact same fresh, sustainable seafood we do.
Yield: serves 2
½ bunch mint leaves
1 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves
2 cups lime juice, divided (about 15 limes)
5 oz. halibut, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, sliced
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
½ cucumber, sliced
½-1 Tbl. olive oil
Salt, to taste
Blanche* the mint leaves and cilantro for 1-2 minutes and place in an ice bath to cool down quickly. When cold, drain from the water and place into a blender with 2 cups of fresh water. Blend well and strain out solids. Reserve in the fridge.
A note on blanching: This is a term for cooking in boiling salted water and then quickly removing to an ice bath. Blanching is great technique to parboil green vegetables or herbs to enhance their vibrant green color. The hotter the water and colder the bath, the better the color of the herbs will be.
Cover the slices of halibut with lime juice, reserving 3 tablespoons of lime juice, and let sit for 5-7 minutes. You are looking for the outside of the fish to look white and “cooked”, but for the inside of the slices to have a semi-raw appearance. When the fish is done, remove from the lime juice and place into a mixing bowl. Add jalapeño, red onion, and cucumber to the bowl. Season with the reserved 2-3 tablespoons of lime juice (do not use the juice that cooked the fish). Add olive oil and season with salt to taste. You’ll want to be aggressive with the lime juice and salt; the balance between these two ingredients will make or break the dish. When you are satisfied with the flavor, place your ceviche on a serving dish and finish with a healthy pour of agua chile over the top. Enjoy with tostadas or crispy tortilla chips.
Wrong season for cucumbers? Try our winter version, Rosarito’s Ceviche.