The Science of Ceviche – A Summer Seafood Favorite

Written by Ashley Zalta, HMNS Special Events Manager

ceviche 1Nothing is more refreshing than the cool delight of eating ceviche on a hot summer’s eve. Here at HMNS, one of our exclusive caterersMélange—are experts on this summertime staple and have a few tips (and recipes!) to share.

Why can we eat ceviche raw?
The fish is actually cooked by whatever acid (lime juice, lemon juice) you use to marinate! In a process called denaturation the structure of the protein unfolds and ceases to function as normal. With food, this is typically achieved through the application of heat, but acids, bases, and salts can also have the effect. Using an acid gives the fish its “cooked” look and feel but moist texture that we desire in food. It is important to cut the pieces in such a way that the acid can thoroughly denature the protein before it is “overcooked”.

How long does it have to sit before we can eat it?
Ideally it should sit between 10-30 minutes depending on your taste. This gives the acid time to start developing the “cooked” look and feel but isn’t so long that the fish begins to get a chalky dry texture.

How long does it stay good for? (ie should a person save left overs)
Ceviche really should be eaten right then and there for the best taste and texture. But I would say if properly cared and stored (on ice the whole time) it should be edible the next day.

What are your (Mélange) ‘must have’ ingredients in a ceviche?
Lime, cilantro, olive oil, thinly sliced red onion, and of course fish! This is ceviche in it’s simplest form, the addition of tomato, jalapeno, green onion, and avocado add a nice vegetable sweetness and balance to the acidic marinade. Corn and green olives(these two ingredients go very well together) are also common additions, of course the star of the show is the fish so be sure that is the focus and that you get a nice cut of fish to use!

If different, what is your one creative specialty touch ingredient?
A good quality Spanish smoked paprika lends a nice aroma and smokiness. Habanero with mango also makes a fine shrimp ceviche, just be sure to de-seed the habanero or you won’t soon forget that experience!

Snapper Ceviche
8 oz Fresh Snapper Filet
2 tbsp Rough Chopped Cilantro Leaves
1 tbsp Small Dice Red Onion (as small as possible)
1/2 cup Lime Juice (plus zest from 1 lime)
1/4 cup Orange Juice (plus zest from 1/2 and orange)
1 each Diced Roma Tomato
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Spanish Smoked Paprika
1 Seeded and Diced Jalapeno
Salt and Pepper to taste
Yucca Chips

Directions:

  • Slice Snapper into 1/8 inch planks. Cut those by 1 inch intervals.
  • Marinate snapper in the lime juice in the fridge for 14 minutes.
  • Drain snapper and toss with the rest of the ingredients, Serve in an ice cold glass bowl.
  • Prepare yucca chips by removing the tough brown outer layer of yucca. Using a mandolin slice yucca into 1/16 of an inch slices.
  • Fry at 350 F until golden brown and crispy, drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Serve next to the ceviche for scooping.

ceviche 2

Shrimp Ceviche (with Corn, Olives, and Avocado)
8 oz. Shrimp Peeled and Deveined
1/4 cup Roasted Corn Kernels
1/4 cup Sliced Green Olives
1 tbsp Fine Diced Red Onion
2 tbsp Rough Chopped Cilantro
1/4 cup Diced Avocado
1/8 cup Lime Juice (plus 1 tsp lime zest)
1/8 cup Orange Juice (plus 1 tsp orange zest)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Jalapeno Fine Diced (only half seeded)
tortilla chips

Directions:

  • Poach shrimp in boiling water for 60 seconds and cool in an ice bath. The shrimp should have cooked almost all the way through.
  • Toss the shrimp with the remaining ingredients and let marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes tossing every 10 minutes or so.
  • Serve in an ice cold glass bowl with your favorite tortilla or yucca chips

 

Treat yourself (or your teacher) to the science of a mocha mask!

  In honor of teacher appreciation week, we’ve got an educator how-to that will make you feel like a million bucks! It’s a great gift for the teacher in your life as they finish up the school year. If you happen to be a teacher, then treat yourself to a 15-minute facial that can revitalize you for those last few weeks of school!Mask Ingredients

  First, grab a few ingredients from your pantry or your local grocery store. For a quick one-person batch, you will need ground coffee (2.5 teaspoons), cocoa powder (2.5 teaspoons), honey (1 teaspoon) and plain yogurt (4 teaspoons).Once you have all the ingredients, combine the ground coffee, cocoa powder and honey in a small bowl. If you are giving it as a gift, seal it up into a container and make a note to add four teaspoons of yogurt before applying it to the face. Don’t add the yogurt until you are almost ready to use the mask.

  When you’ve got 15 minutes all to yourself, add the yogurt to the bowl of other ingredients. Mix it all together and apply the mask to your face and neck, avoiding the eyes. The mask will take about 15 minutes to harden. Once it is hard, rinse your face. It will leave your skin with a radiant glow, and hopefully, this pampering will leave you with a little extra energy for the month ahead.

 

KelseyDemo

It may look a little weird at first…

  Now, let’s talk about some science behind this mocha mask! Your skin is the largest organ in your body, so we need to take care of it. It is made of several layers. The innermost layer is subcutaneous fat which stores your energy and helps control your body temperature. The next layer is the dermis, where you make sweat, create oil, and grow hair. This layer is very helpful because sweat helps cool the skin when it gets too hot, and oil allows our skin to be smooth and waterproof. The outermost layer is the epidermis, the layer we are targeting with the mocha mask! At the bottom, the epidermis creates new skin cells, and throughout the course of a month those skin cells travel to the surface and flake off. The coffee grounds in our mud mask will help get rid of some of our older skin cells. This can prevent clogged pores and harmful bacteria from growing on our skin. With this mask, we say, “Out with the old and in with the new!”

  Now that we’ve cleaned off the old skin cells, we need to make sure we didn’t take out all of the moisture from our skin. With too much washing, our skin loses oil, the natural protection created by the dermis. By adding yogurt to our mask, we are replacing the oil with moisturizers to help protect and hydrate our skin. In addition to yogurt, we added honey to our mask. Although we are using only a small amount of honey in our facial mask, the beneficial properties of honey are of note! For centuries, honey has been used as part of skin care in a number of different cultures. It has been used as an antibacterial and as an anti-inflammatory often to treat wounds. For our purposes, the small percentage of honey works as an antioxidant for our skin that can protect our skin cells from UV damage. It works a little like a natural sunscreen!

KelseyMask

…but it’s actually quite refreshing!

  For those of you looking to make multiple batches as gifts, just keep the ratios for the ingredients. Also, hold off on the yogurt for now. You can make a note that tells your favorite teacher to add the yogurt when they are ready to apply the face mask!

Mocha Mask Recipe:

· Ground coffee – 2.5 parts

· Cocoa powder – 2.5 parts

· Honey – 1 part

· Plain yogurt – 4 parts

  To all of the teachers, we’d like to say a special thank you from The Houston Museum of Natural Science. Enjoy your mocha mask, and remember summer is just around the corner!

Spicy Cocktails: Anvil’s Ginger Beer [Big Bite Nite]

What makes a good scientist? Attention to detail.

habanero!
Click here for more behind-
the-scenes photos from our
video shoot at Anvil.

What makes a good cocktail? Attention to detail.

The fine folks at Anvil have attention to detail down. We went behind the scenes with Kevin, one of the co-owners, to capture those details, in the art and the chemistry that goes into making Anvil’s signature Ginger Beer, which they’ll be sharing with visitors at Big Bite Nite on April 29! (Tickets are going fast – get yours here.)

Despite its more familiar, sweet incarnations in ginger bread or gingerbread men – ginger itself is actually quite spicy. And the process of getting juice from a ginger root was both strange (when was the last time you juiced a root?) and fascinating.

Kevin kicked it up a notch by adding habanero peppers (which, you might remember from an earlier video, can just about burn your lips off if you’re not careful) just before final splash (or fizz) of CO2.

Even just a quarter of one habanero pepper was enough to make this quite a spicy spirit. It was a tad too much for me – but that’s just me. You can test your tastebuds on April 29, when Anvil samples it’s Ginger Beer-based cocktail at Big Bite Nite!

Check out the other videos in our Big Bite Nite series!
Spicy Science: The Evolution of Plants

Our resident botanist explores just what makes some plants so spicy!
Fire & Ice: Rev. Butter Turns Up the Heat

Preview Rev. Butter’s hot ice sculpting style – and check it out live before the doors open at Big Bite Nite on April 29!