Raise your hand if you’ve ever left a restaurant wishing you had the recipe to one of its dishes. I feel that way many times but rarely do I have the nerve to ask the chef for a recipe. Not that I’d get it, although it has happened on occasion. This recipe however, seemed easy enough to figure out without asking anyone for it. I was inspired to make it after eating it at a restaurant in Rome when we were living there.
My Dad was visiting for three weeks and was a bundle of energy, climbing the entire staircase to the cupola of St. Peter’s and other shenanigans you don’t normally associate with 85 year olds. Four years later and I think he still can outpace us. So one Sunday afternoon I left my husband at home to recoup and headed out with just my Dad for a Sunday afternoon. After visiting the church of Santa Maria Maggiore with its spectacular mosaics, we were hunting for a place in the neighborhood to eat lunch and stumbled on a basement-level restaurant filled with Roman families enjoying a Sunday pranzo. One of the specialties of the house was this seafood salad, with its orange-flavored dressing. That’s what sets this apart from any other seafood salad.
It’s a refreshing first course or main meal for the last remaining weeks of summer.
Makes enough for six to eight first-course servings, or four main-course servings, depending on your appetite
1/2 pound swordfish, thinly sliced
1 lb. medium shrimp, with the shells on
3/4 lb. scallops (if they’re large, cut in quarters as I did)
1/2 lb. squid, cleaned and cut into rings
Make a court-bouillon by filling a large pot with four cups of water, and add one onion, one carrot, a stalk of celery with the celery tops, a bay leaf and 10 peppercorns. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for ten minutes.
You want to only barely cook the seafood so don’t be concerned about the very short cooking times in the recipe below. The seafood will continue cooking in the dressing which contains a lot of citrus. Don’t forget, when you’re making ceviche, the seafood doesn’t get any prior cooking.
If the shrimp is frozen make sure it is thoroughly defrosted before cooking or it will get mushy. Add the shrimp to the boiling water and after one minute, add the scallops. Cook the scallops only one minute and add the thinly sliced swordfish and squid for only one minute more. This means you’ve cooked the shrimp for a total of three minutes, the scallops for two minutes and the swordfish and squid only one minute. That’s all you’ll need, but I stress, the water should have been at a rolling boil when you started and the fish should be totally thawed and not ice cold. It’s best if you take it out of the refrigerator a half hour or so before cooking so it’s closer to room temperature.
Drain the seafood from the hot water and immediately plunge the seafood into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. There will be bits of celery, peppercorns, etc. floating around in the water, so pick those out and throw them away. Drain out the cold water and pat the seafood dry on paper towels.
Mix the dressing and pour over the seafood, then refrigerate. It’s best to do this at least an hour before serving so the flavors can blend well.
Dressing for Seafood Salad
1/2 cup minced celery
1/4 cup minced parsley
2 cloves crushed garlic
3 T. capers
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 c. orange juice
juice of 1 lemon
grated rind of one orange and one lemon
Put everything into a jar and shake, or mix with a whisk in a bowl.