Watermelon tuna ceviche
Citrus juice quickly “cooks” sushi-grade tuna for this light, fresh, colorful first course.
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A short while later, we settled into a long outdoor table at the hotel’s outdoor No Worries restaurant, overlooking the marina, for a leisurely lunch featuring bonita prepared three ways. All were delicious, but the one that really caught my eye was a ceviche with cubes of watermelon that mimicked the red-fleshed fish and tiny black charnushka seeds filling in for the absent watermelon seeds.Skip to next paragraph
Terry Boyd is the author of Blue Kitchen, a Chicago-based food blog for home cooks. His simple, eclectic cooking focuses on fresh ingredients, big flavors and a cheerful willingness to borrow ideas and techniques from all over the world. A frequent contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times, his recipes have also appeared on the Bon Appétit and Saveur websites.
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Ceviche is a seafood dish in which raw seafood is marinated in citrus juice – usually lemon or lime or both. The juice “cooks” the fish and produces a fresh, clean taste. Ceviche is perfect for summertime entertaining, because you don’t heat up the kitchen.
This recipe is my take on the colorful, fresh flavored appetizer we had at the Wyndham. I substituted easier-to-find fresh tuna for the bonita. Since the fish is barely “cooked” by curing with citrus juice for a few minutes, it must be absolutely fresh. Ask for sushi-grade tuna and don’t be afraid to ask to give it a sniff test.
Tuna Watermelon Ceviche
Serves 4 to 6 as a first course
1/2 pound sushi-grade tuna
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
small seedless watermelon
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, divided
the zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon or more charnushka seeds (also called nigella seeds – see Kitchen Notes)
Before preparing ceviche, place tuna in the freezer for 45 minutes to an hour. This will make it easier to slice. So will a really sharp knife.
Meanwhile, mix lime juice, lemon juice, olive oil and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. Cut enough watermelon into a 1/3-inch dice to produce a generous 1-1/2 cups. Refrigerate. When tuna is sufficiently chilled, cut into a 1/3-inch dice. You should have about 1-1/2 cups.
Assemble the ceviche. Combine tuna, watermelon, lime zest, 1-1/2 tablespoons cilantro and about 3/4 teaspoon charnushka seeds in a mixing bowl. Whisk citrus juice mixture and pour over tuna mixture. Stir gently to combine, being careful not to crush watermelon cubes. Let rest for a scant two minutes, stir once more and plate, using a slotted spoon to drain liquids. Top with remaining cilantro and charnushka seeds. Serve immediately.
Whatever you call them, you need these seeds. Charnushka seeds are also called nigella seeds or sativa or black onion seeds. I originally sought them out just because they looked so cool, like tiny, edible watermelon seeds. Visually, I think they make the dish. But their nutty, slightly peppery, slightly licorice taste adds a wonderful fresh note to this ceviche; without them, it wouldn’t be nearly as good. You can find nigella seeds at Middle Eastern and Indian markets. You can also order them online from The Spice House.
To see more photos from Terry's Baja trip, click here.
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