This recipe was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, July 7, 2005.

INGREDIENTS: (serves 2)

1 to 1 1/2 pounds halibut or other fresh, sushi-quality fish
3 limes
2 lemons
1 orange
1 ripe red tomato
1 ripe yellow tomato

1/2 teaspoon Japanese wasabi powder
1/2 teaspoon Chinese or British dry mustard
1/2 fresh jalapeño pepper
Red onion
Hot sauce (optional)

1/2-inch slice fresh ginger
1 small avocado
1/4 cup coconut milk (canned is OK)
Fresh cilantro (optional)


1. Squeeze the citrus, keeping the lime juice, lemon juice and orange juice separate for now.

2. Peel and seed both tomatoes, and cut the flesh into small dice (1/2-inch or even 1/4-inch if you have the patience). Put them together in a bowl and add salt to taste.

3. Prepare the fish. Remove skin and unattractive bits, if any, and cut the fish into small dice (1/2-inch or even 1/4-inch if you have the patience).

4. Divide the diced fish into two portions and put each portion in a glass or other non-reactive bowl. Put two-thirds of the lime juice and one-third of the lemon juice in the first bowl, and the remaining lime and lemon juice and all the orange juice in the second bowl. Take care to remember which is which, although the color of the orange should be a giveaway. Drain the tomato mixture (save the "water" for later) and stir half of the tomatoes into each bowl.

5. For SEVICHE NO. 1, mince very fine enough seeded jalapeño to make about 1 tablespoon. Chop enough red onion to make about 1/4 cup. Blend the wasabi and dry mustard with enough water to make a smooth paste. Stir all this into the bowl containing the lime-lemon marinade.

6. For SEVICHE NO. 2, peel the avocado and discard the seed. Cut the flesh into dice similar in size to the fish and tomatoes. Add it to the bowl containing the lemon-lime-orange marinade. Peel the fresh ginger and, using a common garlic press, squeeze as much of its juice as you can into this bowl, discarding the solid ginger that remains in the press. (I never use a garlic press for garlic, by the way, but it's worth the nominal price to have one on hand for ginger juice, an outstanding flavor addition in lots of recipes.)

7. COMMENTS ON MARINATING TIME: Cookbooks and Internet recipes vary wildly in their instructions, with advice ranging from 2 hours to 12 hours or "overnight" (which raises the question, who eats seviche for breakfast?) Upon careful consideration and close observation of my dishes and, I believe, Chef Lamas's, less is more. The fish starts to turn firm and opaque within the first hour of marinating, and it didn't seem to change much even in the second hour. I would be concerned about the texture turning mushy and the flavor unacceptably tangy after extended marination, and it's just not necessary. Also, avoid stirring your seviche more than once or twice; you don't want to break up the fish or vegetables.

8. While the fish is marinating, peel the cucumber, scoop out the seeds with a spoon and cut the flesh into, you guessed it, dice of about the same size as the fish and vegetables. Measure out the coconut milk. At serving time, drain almost all of the marinating liquid from both marinating bowls. Add the cucumber dice to SEVICHE NO. 1, where their crisp, unmarinated texture will add a tasty crunch. Flavor with a bit of the tomato "water" reserved in Step 4, plus a dash of hot sauce if desired. Stir the coconut milk into SEVICHE NO. 2 and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves if desired.

Seviche seems to go best with crisp, dry or nearly dry whites, preferably with at least medium body. On our first restaurant visit, Lamas's seviches were brilliant with King Estate 2003 Oregon Pinot Gris. At home, a rich, dry Northern Italian white, Valdinera 2003 Roero Arneis, a John Given import from the Piemonte, was just as fine a match. On our return visit to Seviche, we went an alternate route with Red Stripe Jamaican beer in stubby brown bottles, and that was an estimable option too.

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