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April 16, 2024. Light, refreshing, substantial. The perfect meal to celebrate the first warmth of Spring. Or to banish the first snow of Spring.

Here in New York, the temperature was 61. Clear and sunny. Next morning: 6 inches of snow on the ground. So in my mind, I’m seeing turtles basking on the beach, palms swaying.

I went to the market, straight for the fish and produce sections. A beautiful piece of ahi, because I had Hawaii on my mind. Yes, here on the mainland, we say “tuna”, not “ahi”. But a papaya’s a papaya. Not so ripe as in Hawaii, but not bad. In my mind in Hawaii, I was squeezing a spicy Rangpur lime onto a papaya and I thought, yeah, I could squeeze some onto the raw tuna for instant ceviche. It was great.

Today I’ll need a little chili pepper and some ginger to heat up the lime juice. But still, five minutes and ten dollars later, this is a great meal for two. Feels like Hawaii. And feels like home. Where the snow melted pretty quickly.

Ahi Papaya Ceviche
No cooking. To serve two, just slice, squeeze, chop:

1/2 pound of raw tuna;
1/2 of a medium papaya;
1 lime;
1 tablespoon fresh ginger;
1 tablespoon fresh mint;
1/3 of a small jalapeño or other chili pepper

Finely chop the ginger, mint and pepper. Squeeze the limes and mix the juice with the chopped ingredients. Slice or cube the melon and tuna. Toss it all together and refrigerate for 15 (rare) to 30 (well done) minutes. Toss it again before serving.

The bright, tart lime juice lightens the rich, meaty flesh of the tuna and papaya. The mint’s cool. The ginger and pepper very, very warm. Eat it very, very slowly. One little piece at a time. Really. Use chopsticks.

This is a great lunch or dinner. A small portion’s a great first course. Terrific on a warm corn tortilla or with really good organic tortilla chips.

You can prepare this in advance and refrigerate for hours. Then squeeze the lime and toss. Cover and back in the fridge for fifteen minutes to let the lime’s acids “cook” the fish.

Cost-Benefit Analysis
About $5 per person. Your day’s protein and Vitamins A and C. Near-zero glycemic load.

Let’s Do The Math
160 calories per serving. That’s a 12-minute swim. A 25-minute walk on the beach. 30 minutes of deep-sea fishing.

It’s Always Something
Take small bites, chew slowly; you’ll eat less: “Greater oral sensory exposure to a product, by eating with small bite sizes … and increasing OPT [oral processing time], significantly decreases food intake” (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)

Every Thing is Everything
Do the righteous and delicious thing: use Blue Ocean Institute‘s Seafood Guide to help you choose sustainable seafood.

When you visit BOI’s web site, make a donation to this fine conservation organization.

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