This could be the quintessential combination, encompassing all the characteristics that make ceviche so irresistible. It's sweet, spicy, tart, crunchy, soft and cooling, all in one bite.
The unexpected sweet softness of the optional candied kumquats and the refreshing bite of watermelon with firm deep-red tuna make this a perfect recipe for a party.
Make Ahead: It can be made ahead and holds well, unlike many other, more acidic ceviches. For a dramatic presentation at your next gathering, serve it in a hollowed frozen baby watermelon shell.
- For the candied kumquats (optional)
- 8 ounces kumquats, cut into thin rounds and seeded
- 2 quarts water
- 4 cups sugar
- For the marinade
- 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 3 tablespoons sambal oelek (hot chili paste)
- 2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade lemon oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons yuzu juice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- For the ceviche
- 1 pound center-cut ahi tuna fillet (pinbones removed), cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 9 ounces cubed (1/4-inch) seedless watermelon
- 4 to 6 leaves basil, rolled and cut crosswise into ribbons (chiffonade; 1 tablespoon)
- 3 or 4 chives, snipped (1 tablespoon), plus 1 for garnish
- Leaves of a few sprigs cilantro, finely chopped (1 tablespoon)
- Leaves of a few stems tarragon, finely chopped (1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
For the (optional) candied kumquats: Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the kumquats; once the water returns to a boil, cook for 3 minutes, until they begin to soften, then drain. Repeat this process 2 more times, using clean water each time.
Bring 4 cups of the sugar and 4 cups of water to a boil, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Add the kumquats and reduce the heat to low; cook for about 30 minutes. Cool the syrup and store for up to 3 weeks.
For the marinade: Whisk together the lime juice, samba oelek, lemon oil, yuzu juice and salt in a large nonreactive bowl.
For the ceviche: Gently fold into the marinade the tuna, watermelon, basil, chives, cilantro, tarragon and red onion until well combined. Add 2 tablespoons of the candied kumquats in syrup, if using, and toss gently.
VARIATION: To make your own lemon oil, combine 2 cups of vegetable oil, 1/4 cup of finely grated lemon zest (from 4 or 5 lemons) and 2 teaspoons ground turmeric in a medium saucepan. Gently warm over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Let cool then cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. The yield is 2 cups.
Adapted from "The Great Ceviche Book Revised," by Douglas Rodriguez with Laura Zimmerman (Ten Speed Press, 2010).
Tested by Julia Beizer.
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