March 9, 2010

The Art of Raw Fish

Let’s take a moment to really appreciate fish in its most untainted state.  Ceviche, sashimi, and other forms of thinly sliced sea food are a perfect, low sodium dining option.  If you stay away from the saltier schools, like mackarel, squid, and shellfish, and leave off the usual soy-based or salt-infused sauces, these light appetizers will generally rank low on the salt scale, hovering around 50 mg of sodium per serving (my best estimation).

As I had mentioned yesterday, I substituted a Peruvian-inspired seafood ceviche for the Puerto Rican octopus salad.  Although the recipe, and result, was different from the intended dish, the crisp flavors of the cool seafood were exactly what we had desired.  A quick bath in some blood orange juice and a tumble with some finely diced green onions, garlic, avocado, and nectarine, and we had ourselves a delicate start to our more heavily-flavored dinner.

What I love most about “cooking” with raw fish is that you can create something that is both elegant and bursting with flavor in a matter of minutes. I tend to use mostly white fish – like yellowtail, mahi-mahi, rock cod, and halibut – and if I cannot find sushi-grade cuts (check out your local Japan town or farmers market), I poach the fish first in water and citrus juice.  Most fish will be safe if you marinate it in citrus for at least three hours, as the citric acid denatures, or cooks, the fish without heat.  But since my tummy seems to be pretty sensitive, I usually give the filet a quick sear or poach just to be safe.  From there, you can keep the dish simple with chopped garlic, onions, and spicy pepper, or give it more flavor by adding chopped pineapple, avocado, corn, and even tomato sauce.

You can serve your ceviche alone or with taro/potato/plantain chips for perfect scooping action.  For our Puerto Rican feast, we made tostones (recipe below), which are crispy little plantain cakes and a fun alternative to a corn tortilla.  We dunked them in our steamy soffritto for a spicy bite and then piled them high with our blood-orange soaked rock cod for a more refreshing taste.

For your next dinner party, whip up a batch of these little plantains and top with your favorite raw fish creation.  The result is a simple, low sodium appetizer that will take minutes to make and seconds to disappear. Don’t be afraid to get your hands on a fresh piece of fish.  Just make sure it is clean and sustainable after that, let your imagination run wild.  Chow on.


Ingredients: Makes 8

  • 5 tablespoons oil for frying
  • 2 plantains, peeled and broken into chunks
  • 3 cups cold water


1. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Place the plantains in the oil and fry on both sides until soft, approximately 5 minutes per side.

2. Remove the plantains from the pan and place on paper towel-lined plates.

3. Flatten each plantain by placing a plate over the fried plantains and pressing down. Or you can do what I did and mash the plantains with a fork and then mold into small, round discs with your hands.

4. Dip the plantains in water, then return them to the hot oil and fry 1 minute on each side. Salt to taste and serve immediately.

waiwa March 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm

there are lots of types of plantains right? i’m guessing you’re using the yellow kind, but there’s black and green as well. let us know which ones you like to use best 🙂

sodium girl March 9, 2010 at 1:25 pm

That’s a great question. Plantains, like bananas, change color as they ripen from green, to yellow, to black. When they are yellow, they are much starchier and as they turn to black, they become very sweet. For this recipe, I used the yellow plantains but I’m sure both black and green ones would work as well.

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