Blanching the Vegetables for Striped Bass Ceviche

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 12,763
    Chef Victor Albisu demonstrates how to blanch vegetables for striped bass ceviche.

    Victor Albisu

    Victor Albisu may have been born in northern Virginia, but he seems “born” with Latin food in his blood. Victor’s mother is Peruvian, his father is Cuban; one grandfather was a baker; and two aunts owned their own restaurants in Miami – Latin food was central to his upbringing. In fact, he doesn’t have a single childhood memory that doesn’t involve some delectable Latin cooking or other. Then he went to le Cordon Bleu. But that’s getting ahead of the story. Victor spent every summer through his teens with family in Miami, pressing his first sandwiches at age five, mastering steaks a la plancha by seven, and paying close attention as his grandfather killed, gutted, and roasted whole pigs and caught, cleaned, and fried whole fish; while his grandmother made the rice and beans, empanadas and croquettes. Back at home, his mother, a great cook in her own right and owner of a Latin grocery store, reinforced his culinary bent. In high school, Victor apprenticed with the Argentine and Uruguayan butchers at his mother’s shop. “Beef in Argentina is like wine in France,” he explains, “the style of butchering is distinctive, and the trade is highly respected.” Working six days a week, often until 9 o’clock at night, he learned not only about cutting meat, but making chorizo (sausages) and matambres (stuffed meats) and just about everything else about the Argentine meat culture. Victor’s family had always promoted a lively interest in international politics, and when he went off to George Mason University, he planned to make that his career. In five years, he completed two degrees, but after graduation it took just a few years working with international contractors for USAID to learn that the theoretical side of international affairs interested him much more than the practical. So at age 24, he sold everything, moved to Paris, and enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu. He received his basic, intermediate and superior diplomas in cuisine, pastry, and wine, performing his internship at Arpège, a 3-star Michelin restaurant. “There I was living in the thick of Les Halles, keeping restaurant hours and woken at six every morning by a fishmonger yelling about scallops – I loved every minute of it.” Back in the states, Victor was hired as Executive Sous Chef under David Craig at The Tabard Inn, moving with him to La Bergerie in Alexandria, Virginia. From there, he went on to work at Washington’s 701, Ardeo, and Bardeo. He then became Chef de Cuisine at Ceiba restaurant and is currently pursuing his own ventures.

    Victor Albisu: Hi! I am Victor Albisu. Today we are making a Striped Bass ceviche. To get started with the Striped Bass Ceviche, first we need to do a little blanching. Blanching is, immersing something in hot water for anywhere from one or two minutes and more and then submerging it in ice water to halt the cooking process. Today, we are going to be using the stalk of celery and the white of one leek; this is just here for decoration. When we cut this in half, put that part out, cut the end, put it here, cut it long ways. Always when you are dealing with a leek, scallion onion, for that matter, the out side skin will always have a little bit harsh of a flavor. So, we are going to discard that, slice this down the middle and across and now we are going to look at our blanching water. Thats boiling water, but whenever cooking vegetables with water or, just about everything that you use water to boil, you are going to want to salt it, and make sure that it hits that kind of sea water -- should have a salty flavor. So, we are going to give it a couple of generous pinches, make sure it clouds up a little bit, looks like the ocean. At that point, that they are rolling, we are going to add this, one stalk of celery, cut in half and trimmed and one stalk of leek quartered to blanch.

    Now, with the perforated spoon or a spider or different utensils that you can find in the kitchen, you will be able to remove them, without removing that much water. Here, I have my ice bath prepared, which is basically just ice and water, and thats been cooking for about a minute, minute and a half now. Slew and pull that out add it right to the ice water.

    Now, we are doing this process because this is part of the dressing for the ceviche. Ceviche is, in and of itself, is just a marinated fish in citrus or marinated almost anything can be a ceviche. So, when you are talking about ceviche, you are talking generally about marinated fish. Although, theres mushroom ceviches or shellfish, some people even eat ceviche of meat, but they call it something else.

    So, when we are talking about this specific ceviche, we are moving right to Striped Bass or the Rockfish, but in our area, it comes with a great quality. So, in our next step, we will be finishing our dressing, pour over top of the ceviche and slicing our Rockfish.