Skip to main content

Tequila-Kissed Monterey Bay Halibut Ceviche for Foodie Reads 2016

While not a foodie book, per se, I was inspired to create a dish after finishing Monterey Bay by Lindsay Hatton.* First a little background: I call the Monterey Peninsula home...and have, almost continuously, since I was ten years old. Minus five years in Berkeley for college, one year in Italy when I was working Rome (and letting my LSATs expire without telling my parents I no longer wanted to go to law school), and one year in Oklahoma (which we try not to mention). 

So when a bunch of friends from high school started a virtual reading group - to read and discuss Monterey Bay - I was in. We gathered copies and dug in.

On the Page...
Perhaps it's my familiarity with the area and the characters - the historical ones anyway -  that set my level of expectation too high. I wanted to adore this book. But Hatton's historical fiction is more fiction than history. And, unfortunately, the book did not convey a sense of the Bay, the Aquarium, or the historical figures of Cannery Row. It had potential and her prose is compelling at times, but I craved more.

Temporally, the book jumps back and forth between 1940 and 1998. While it's easy enough to follow, I found myself wondering, "What happened during those fifty-eight years in the middle?" And though Margot went from fifteen to seventy-three, I felt that she didn't emotionally progress beyond her brooding, awkward teenage self. 

I longed to enjoy the tidepools and creatures that she drew for Doc. But even those descriptions weren't mesmerizing. They lacked passion and color. Maybe that was intentional and mirrored Margot's dreary disposition. Remember: brooding, awkward teenager.

I was hoping to learn more about the history, actual events, and relationship between John Steinbeck and 'Doc' Ricketts. I wanted to be dazzled. I wanted to fall in love with the area even more deeply than I already am. None of those expectations were met. Sadly. It wasn't bad...but it wasn't great either.

On the Plate...
There were several passages that had me thinking about food - from steak and eggs to calamari rings and anything Italian for the families on Spaghetti Hill. But this passage made me think I should have peeked inside the formaldehyde jug when the kids and I took a tour of Doc Ricketts' lab several years ago!

"I changed my mind about the beer."

"Oh, It's too late, I'm afraid. The last bottle was dispensed with hours ago. But I can certainly offer you some of this."

He brandished the formaldehyde. She took it from him and put it to her lips. The liquid hissed down her throat like a snake.


"What's in there?" she sputtered, wiping her eyes.

"Very expensive tequila. I keep it in the formaldehyde jug to fool the others."

Inspired by that exchange and a bottle of very expensive tequila friends gave my husband for his 40th birthday, I decided to make a tequila-kissed ceviche with the Monterey Bay halibut from our CSF (community-supported fishery) share from Real Good Fish.

  • 1 lb halibut, cut into 1" cubes
  • 6-8 fresh lemons, juiced (I used Meyer lemons from a tree in my parents' yard)
  • 2 to 3 T fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 C fresh tomatoes, cubed
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T olive oil
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • tortilla chips, for serving
  • tequila, for serving to the adults

Place the raw seafood pieces in a glass dish and cover them with lemon juice. The seafood should be completely covered by juice.

Cover the dish and place it in the refrigerator. Let the seafood marinate or "cook" in the lemon juice for at least 2 hours. Once the seafood is "cooked" in the juices, drain the lemon juice, but reserve 2 T of the juice.

Stir in the tomatoes, cilantro, and olive oil. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Serve with chips. For the adults, add a splash of tequila!

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Here's what everyone else read in August 2016: here.


  1. Don't you just hate when you have such high expectations from a book or a movie and then it falls flat? Oh well, you got a great recipe inspiration anyway.

  2. It would be horrible if you picked up the wrong formaldehyde bottle.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Quick Pickled Red Onions and Radishes

If you've been reading my blog for even a short amount of time, you probably know how much I love to pickle things. I was just telling a friend you can pickle - with vinegar - or you can ferment - with salt - for similar delicious effect. The latter has digestive benefits and I love to do that, but when I need that pop of sour flavor quickly, I whip up quick pickles that are ready in as little as a day or two. I've Pickled Blueberries , Pickled Asparagus , Pickled Cranberries , Pickled Pumpkin , and even Pickled Chard Stems ! This I did last night for an upcoming recipe challenge that requires I include radishes. Ummmm...of course I'm pickling them! Ingredients  makes 1 quart jar radishes, trimmed and sliced organic red onions, peeled and thinly sliced (I used a mandolin slicer) 3/4 C vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar) 3/4 C water 3 T organic granulated sugar 1 T salt (I used some grey sea salt) 6 to 8 grinds of black pepper Proce

Hot Chocolate Agasajo-Style {Spice It Up!}

photo by D For my Spice It Up! kiddos this week, I was looking for an exotic drink to serve while we learned about saffron. I found a recipe from food historian Maricel Presilla that mimicked traditional Spanish hot chocolate from the 17th century where it was served at lavish receptions called agasajos . When I teach, I don't always get to shoot photos. Thankfully, D grabbed my camera and snapped a few. Ingredients serves 14-16 1 gallon organic whole milk 3 T dried rosebuds - or 2 t rosewater 2 t saffron threads, lightly crushed 3 T ground cinnamon 3 whole tepin chiles, crushed 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise 1 C organic granulated sugar 1 lb. bittersweet chocolate Procedure In a large soup pot that can hold a gallon plus, combine milk, dried rosebuds (or rosewater, if you are using that), saffron threads, ground cinnamon, chiles, vanilla beans, and sugar and warm over medium heat till it steams. Whisk to dissolve sugar, then lower heat an

Aloo Tiki {Pakistan}

To start off our Pakistani culinary adventure, I started us off with aloo tiki - potato cutlets. I'm always game for tasty street food. I found a couple of different recipes and incorporated those together for this version. Ingredients 6-8 small red potatoes, scrubbed 1 T cumin seeds 1 T fresh chopped parsley 1/2 t ground coriander 1 t minced garlic Procedure Boil the potatoes until they are tender. Drain and let cool. Mash the potatoes. Traditionally they are mashed without their skins. I left the skins on. In a small pan, toast the cumin seeds on high heat until the begin to give off an aroma and begin to darken. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate to keep them from cooking any more. Blend all of the spices into the mashed potatoes, then shape into small patties. If you wet your hands, the potato mixture won't stick to them. Heat a splash of oil in a large, flat-bottom pan. Dip each patty into beaten egg and carefully place in the oil. P