I have never eaten ceviche before and certainly never made it. I didn't even know what it was when I picked it out of Women of Great Taste. I was pretty sure the Top Chef contestants made it on a fairly regular basis. I studied the list of ingredients and scanned the instructions and it looked easy and with out any terribly weird ingredients
Off to the store I went with my roommate, Kim. On the way she asked me what I would be making and I told her ceviche. "Oh that's with raw fish." What, wait, I only scanned the directions. Surely I would have noticed not cooking the shrimp. Later when I got home I found out to my relief that I did get to cook the shrimp. (I may draw the line at raw fish.) When we got to the store Kim stayed in the car leaving to me to my own devices. (She is a much more experienced cook than I.)
The only challenge at the store was the pepper. I know nothing about peppers except green, red, yellow and orange bell peppers which I use all the time in my cooking. I know that jalapeno is hotter than I like. I know that cayenne is hotter than I like. That's it. The recipe called for an Anaheim chili pepper of which I could not find. Nor could I find a produce guy or gal to ask. So I looked at the different peppers not that there was much of a choice and I picked one that said it is good in salsa and dips. O.K. How bad could that be. I like salsa and dips.
At home I cooked the shrimp and combined it with the onion and the tomato. Then I took one of the peppers and decided to dice it up really, really small just in case it turned out to be hotter that I wanted. I was suppose to use a whole pepper but after putting in maybe 1/2 teaspoon, I decided to taste one. The piece I put in my mouth was the size of a coarse grain of salt and the minute it hit my tongue I thought I was going to die. I couldn't get to the water fast enough which didn't seem to help at all. Several glasses of milk later my tongue was starting to feel almost normal. Needless to say I picked out each and everyone of the tiny bits of pepper and threw them in the garbage along with the unused peppers.
At that point Kim walks into the kitchen and I tell her what happened. She says "Habaneros. Those are the hottest peppers you can buy." Now she tells me. So I decided to do a little research on peppers so the next time I need a pepper I will be more informed.
Peppers are rated by the Scoville scale. Bell peppers, pimiento, and sweet banana peppers rate a 0 to 100. Anaheim (also know as the New Mexico) rate 100- 1000. Canned green chilies which I like along with chili powder rate a 500-1000. Jalapeno 2500-5000. Cayenne 30,000-50,000. Habaneros 100,000-300,000. I'm lucky I didn't die. Who in the world can eat a habanero pepper that's what I would like to know. I did find out that the reason Mexican food often comes with sour cream is that it cuts down on the heat. The same is true of yogurt in Indian dishes. And that's why the milk worked better for me than the water. Fortunately it was whole milk because it is the fat in the dairy that cuts the heat. So don't serve low fat sour creams with your Mexican dishes.
Back to the cevichi. I had a red bell pepper in the fridge and I added that to the shrimp, onions and tomatoes. For the dressing lemon juice, catchup, frozen O.J. fresh minced cilantro, sugar, salt and pepper. You marinate for at least 4 hours then add a little beer and serve over salad greens. The result was delicious though it might have benefited from a little heat.