chef Shamil Velazquez embraces Peruvian tradition and Lowcountry seafood with this yellowtail snapper ceviche.
The key to excellent ceviche, Velazquez stresses, is the freshness of the seafood, which is abundantly available in South Carolina. Pair such a fish with fresh vegetables and an acidic sauce, and you’ll have a worthy course, plus plenty of crunchy, fried chicharron de harina to scoop it up. Most importantly, “just try to have fun with it,” said Velazquez.
Velazquez is fluent in fusing his Puerto Rican roots into Lowcountry dishes. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and previous sous chef at the Neighborhood Dining Group’s (NDG) Husk location in Greenville, Velazquez assisted the hospitality group with opening Delaney Oyster House. As executive chef there, he demonstrates the many utilizations of fresh seafood from Charleston’s waterways.
Despite his professional accomplishments, Velazquez’s childhood experiences led to his most recent position as the executive chef at Minero Mexican Grill and Cantina on Johns Island, South Carolina. Growing up in Puerto Rico, Velazquez learned from his vibrant surroundings and observed how his family respected ingredients and took care to cook with them in ways that highlighted the natural flavors and textures.
Now at Minero, Velazquez creates Mexican dishes with high-quality ingredients in an elevated but casual environment. The menu highlights items coming off the charcoal grill and served on housemade corn or flour tortillas, including classics, like Minero’s infamous chicken wings, and new creations, like a crispy pork tomahawk.
One of Velazquez’s favorite dishes on the menu–one close to his Puerto Rican roots–is the ceviche campechano. Piled high with bright vegetables, the michelada-brined snapper and shrimp “cook” in the refreshing, sour mix.
“I prefer yellowtail snapper because of the high intensity when it swims,”Velazquez says. The fish’s high activity level makes the flesh meatier, richer, and bouncy. A quality fish for this dish should have bright pink gills, a sweet smell, and should bounce back upon touch. If snapper isn’t available at your local fish market or grocery, Velazquez suggests flounder as a great alternative due to its similar qualities, and either fish will respond well to the marinade.
To ensure purchasing the freshest possible snapper and flounder for ceviche, buy in season (July 1 through October 31) and buy local.
Makes 12 to 16 servings
64 ounces canola oil
8 dried flour rounds (available at your local Latin market, usually in the dried foods section)
Salt and tajín, to taste
¾ cup clamato juice
¼ cup lime juice
3 tablespoons agave
3 tablespoons worcestershire
Salt, to taste
5 ounces fresh yellowtail snapper, cubed
1 cup cooked shrimp, cubed
½ cup lime juice
Salt, for seasoning
1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup mandarin segments
½ cup avocado, diced
¼ cup radish, thinly sliced
Cilantro, for garnish
For the chicharrons de harin
For the sour michelada mix
For the ceviche
- Make the chicharrons de harina: In a deep, large pot, bring canola oil to a boil, heating until a candy thermometer registers 350 degrees.
- Carefully add flour rounds to oil, taking care not to overcrowd the pot, as they will grow considerably. Fry until golden and puffy, about 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove chicharrons from oil and transfer to a sheet tray lined with paper towels. Season to taste with salt and tajín. Set aside.
- Make the sour michelada mix: In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients until fully emulsified. Set aside.
- Assemble ceviche: Place fish and shrimp in a medium bowl and marinate with lime juice and salt for 5 minutes.
- Transfer marinated fish and shrimp to a chilled serving bowl. Arrange cucumber, onion, mandarin, avocado, and radish segments over fish. Pour sour michelada mix over mixture. Garnish with cilantro and serve with chicharrons de harina.
Video by: Jonathan Boncek
Edits by: Jack McAlister
Production by: Maggie Ward
Location: Charleston Wine + Food