Ceviche a good food choice on Cinco de Mayo

May 3, 2013 (CHICAGO)

But unlike Mexican Independence Day, there really isn't a traditional food associated with Cinco de Mayo.

One restaurant in Oak Park will celebrate with quite a few varieties of ceviche.

Rhea Brown will be elbow-deep in fresh citrus juice. That's because at Maya del Sol, one of the few mexican restaurants in Oak Park that doesn't rely exclusively on taqueria fare, they crank out lively cocktails and lots of ceviche.

"Ceviche is pretty much a fish cured with citrus juice. You can use anywhere from orange juice, lemon juice or lime juice," said Brown, Maya del Sol's chef. "I recommend 45 minutes to an hour."

For their signature ceviche, fresh tilapia is sliced and cubed, added to a mixing bowl with fresh-squeezed lime juice. The citrus literally "cooks" the fish. He adds bits of finely-chopped red onion, tomatoes, and green olives, also slicing and chopping up fiery serrano chiles. A mound of fresh cilantro is also chopped and added to the bowl, lending that traditional aroma.

The kitchen makes several types of ceviche; some with scallops and sweet corn, others with corvina, topped with crispy yucca chips.

"It's the texture of the fish. You're looking for a nice, white, firm fish with less blood vein," Brown said. "Halibut, tilapia, Lake Superior whitefish, any white fish of that nature."

Brown says if you make it at home, don't let the fish sit in the citrus too long. As for his tilapia version - served with fresh slices of seedless cucumber and wedges of jicama - it's become one of their signature dishes.

"Our traditional ceviche is one of the better ceviche that we have here and it's been on the menu for quite awhile and i don't think it's going anywhere," he said.

So this Cinco de Mayo, while your friends are out drinking coronas and eating guacamole, go for the ceviche. It's versatile, it's fresh and it's a true taste of Mexico.

The restaurant shifts into party mode this weekend, with three bands performing on Cinco de Mayo.

Maya del Sol
144 S. Oak Park Ave.
Oak Park, Illinois

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