February 22, 2012

Salmon Ceviche Quesadillas with Sriracha Sour Cream

We're experiencing an unusually warm Winter here in Northern California with temperatures in the mid 70s. With weather like this, I find myself in the mood for the lighter and brighter flavors of Summer. So for my first recipe here on Food Mischief, I wanted to show you how to make a perfectly crispy and tender salmon ceviche quesadilla served with a unique sriracha sour cream that gives you just enough heat before it cools you down.

Ceviche is one of the most intriguing dishes I've ever learned about. It's a Spanish/Peruvian dish where you "cold-cook" seafood with the citric acid present in fruits like lime, lemon, and grapefruit. It's typically served with chips as a great appetizer. You may be wondering why someone would wait 4 hours for  the citric acid in juice to cook salmon when you can do it in a matter of minutes in a sautee pan. Cold-cooking allows you to maintain the delicate and fresh textures of seafood. With that said, if you really need something quicker for dinner, go ahead and just cook your salmon over the heat. Texture changes, but the flavor is still awesome!
Start off with the freshest sushi-grade salmon you can get. This is very important for food safety because you aren't cooking the salmon with heat. Ask the butcher/meat clerk if you can smell the fish. If it doesn't smell fishy, its a sign that the fish really is fresh. I can understand that you may feel like you're being pretentious for asking if you can smell the fish. However, my advice is that the guy who doesn't show pride in his fish is the guy you don't want to buy your seafood from. Seriously, when I used to work at Starbucks, many of my customers specifically requested that I made their lattes because of how much pride I took in coffee. Anyways, enough pumping my own tires, let's get started!

The Play-By-Play Version
(Don't need the pics/explanation? Skip to the shorter Sportscenter highlights version below)

Dice 12oz of salmon, almost like you would a bell pepper or onion. Here's how I did it.

Cut your salmon horizontally into just under ¼" inch slices. 
Slice them lengthwise into strips
Cut them into cubes
Add the salmon into a non-metallic bowl with ⅔ cup pulp-free grapefruit (approximately 1 medium grapefruit) and ⅓ cup pulp free lemon juice (approximately 1½ medium lemons). If you prefer to juice by hand instead of using a juicer, I recommend pouring your juice through a sieve to make sure any seed and pulp bits are filtered out. 

Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 4 hours or until the salmon looks white/light pink on the outside. The cook time can change depending on the acidity of your citrus fruits.

While you're waiting, this would be a great time to make your sriracha sour cream. Whisk 1 tbsp of sriracha sauce with 1 cup of sour cream. If you don't own a bottle of sriracha, it's worth the small price. Despite it being a Thai hot sauce, it's popularity has earned it a spot in the grocery shelves of many chains. 

Drain the ceviche liquid, lay the salmon on a paper towel, and pat it dry. Do this so that you don't add unnecessary liquid that could make your quesadilla soggy. Add salmon back into a clean bowl and stir in 1 chopped jalapeno, ⅓ cup chopped red onion, 3 tbsp chopped cilantro, ½ tsp salt, ¼ cayenne pepper, and ½ tsp black pepper. Gently fold in ½ medium diced avocado without mashing it. 
When you're ready to cook your quesadillas, heat up 2 sautee pans to medium heat. Add 1 tortilla to one of the pans and another tortilla to the other pan for 45-60 seconds until some brown spots appear, then flip to heat the other side as well. This technique not only reduces the assembly time, but also ensures that your salmon isn't heated up to the point where it begins to cook off those benefits to cold cooking that we talked about earlier.

Remove tortillas and then rub surface of 1 pan with some of the butter until lightly coated. Place 1 heated tortilla back on to this pan, sprinkle ¾ cup pepper jack evenly on tortilla, spread on ⅓ of salmon mixture, and then sprinkle ¾ cup of cheddar cheese on top. You can adjust the amount of cheese depending on how cheesy you like quesadillas. I like it really cheesy. Cover pan until cheese is melted, then add 2nd heated tortilla on top. Gently press it down so it bonds with the melted cheese. 
When the bottom tortilla is well toasted (see picture below), rub butter on 2nd pan, then use a large spatula to lift the quesadilla up and flip it over on to the 2nd pan to toast the other side for another 2-4 minutes. 
When done, use spatula to lift quesadilla on to cutting board and let it rest for 4-5 minutes. Cut into slices using a pizza cutter or a heavy knife. Serve with sriracha sour cream. Garnish suggestions: scallions, sliced avocado, cilantro, or lime wedges.

And that's how to make a salmon ceviche quesadilla with sriracha sour cream! I hope you enjoyed my first of many recipes on Food Mischief. I'd love to hear what you think. If you make any modifications, be sure to share them with me in the comments box below and I'll give you credit if they help make my recipe even better.

SportsCenter Highlights Version (Minus Jeremy Lin)

Salmon Ceviche Quesadillas with Sriracha Sour Cream
Prep Time - Ceviche/Marinating: 4 hours
Cooking & Assembly: 15-30 minutes
Yield: 2-3 full quesadillas

Ingredients: 
Ceviche Marinade -
12oz fresh salmon, diced
⅔ cup pulp free grapefruit juice (approx. 1 medium grapefruit)
⅓ cup pulp free lemon juice (approx. 1½ medium lemons)

Additions to Ceviche - 
1 large jalapeno (with seeds), chopped
⅓ cup red onion, chopped
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ medium avocado, diced

Quesadillas - 
4-6 flour tortillas, gordita size
1½-2¼ cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
1½-2¼ cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (or any other melting cheese that you prefer)
1 tbsp butter (you'll want to just have a stick of butter for easy application to the pan)

Sriracha Sour Cream - 
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp sriracha (or to taste)

Instructions:
1) Combine diced salmon, grapefruit juice, and lemon juice in a non-metallic bowl. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for 4 hours

2) While you're waiting, this is a good time to make the sriracha sour cream. Whisk sriracha and sour cream together and store in refrigerator until serving time

3) When salmon is done, drain the salmon and lay it on a paper towel to pat it dry

4) Add salmon back in a clean bowl with jalapeno, red onion, cilantro, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir throughly and then gently fold in avocado without mashing it

5) Heat 2 sautee pans to medium-heat

6) Add 1 tortilla to one of the pans and another tortilla to the other pan for 45-60 seconds (until some brown spots appear), then flip to heat the other side as well.

7) Remove tortillas and then rub surface of 1 pan with some of the butter until lightly coated

8) Place 1 heated tortilla on to buttered pan, sprinkle ¾ cup pepper jack evenly on tortilla, spread on ⅓ of salmon mixture, and sprinkle ¾ cup of cheddar cheese on top. Cover pan until cheese is melted, then add 2nd heated tortilla on top. Gently press it down so it bonds with the melted cheese

9) When the bottom tortilla is well toasted, rub butter on 2nd pan, then use a large spatula to lift the quesadilla up and flip it over on to the 2nd pan to toast the other side for another 2-4 minutes

10) When done, use spatula to lift quesadilla on to cutting board and let it rest for 4-5 minutes. Cut into slices using a pizza cutter or a heavy knife