Sara Deseran is a longtime San Francisco-based food writer and the editor-at-large for San Francisco magazine. Her work is regularly selected for the annual Best Food Writing anthology and she’s worked as a James Beard Foundation cookbook judge. While contributing to magazines such as Saveur, Women’s Health, and C magazine, Sara has published four cookbooks, most recently Tacolicious (Ten Speed Press). The latter is no coincidence. Today, on top of writing, Sara works as the Director of Marketing and Branding for Tacolicious, the growing, SF-based restaurant group she co-owns with her husband Joe Hargrave. Below is her favorite recipe to pair with our Sonoma Brut.
Ceviche Tostadas with Nectarines and Thai Basil
Recipe created by 2016 Glorious Bites Partner: Sara Deseran
SARA DESERAN: You’d be surprised at how many people hire Tacolicious, the San Francisco-based restaurant group I own with my husband Joe, for weddings and other celebratory occasions. Blinis and caviar are nice, but there’s something soul satisfying about pretty much anything served up on a corn tortilla. However, maybe this sentiment is more pervasive in California where good Mexican food is considered almost a birthright. Whatever the reason, around this neck of the woods, the decline of white tablecloths and other formal trappings has liberated people to proudly hold a taco in one hand and a cold glass of bubbly in the other.
While tacos are great, a more elegant choice for a fiesta is a tostada. A crispy little tortilla round acts as the perfect vessel for just about anything you might want to pile on it. At Tacolicious, we top tostadas with turkey pibil with black bean puree and pickled red onions; raw tuna swiped in soy with chipotle mayo, avocado and crispy fried leeks (aka “Contramar-style”); roasted butternut squash and housemade queso fresco; and, of course—one of our favorites—ceviche, for which there are endless varieties.
For the Gloria Ferrer Glorious Bites contest coming up in October, contestants will be drumming up appetizers to pair with Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut. Since I’ll be acting as the final judge, I thought I should place myself in the mindset of a contestant. So on a sweltering summer day while hanging out at my parents’ house (in Sonoma, nonetheless), I came up with a newfangled take on a ceviche tostada which I think pairs perfectly with the refined and effervescent, but versatile, wine. Fresh snapper “cooked” in tart fresh lime juice is balanced with tiny bits of sweet, ripe summer nectarines, a bit of heat from the jalapenos, and the haunting flavor of licorice-y Thai basil. The crunch of a salty tostada brings it all together (though if you’d prefer to serve it up on an endive leaf, it would make a nice no-carb option).
The best appetizers should require no more effort from your guests than a couple of bites and a contented sigh. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find tiny, two-bite-sized premade tostadas (regular round corn tortilla chips can often the wrong size and too salty to boot). Luckily, tostadas are easy enough to customize by making them yourself. For the ceviche, make sure to take the time to chop everything into dice (which is technically 1/8-inch square but just do the best you can), which not only makes for a pretty presentation that fits neat and tidy on the little tostada, but also allows the flavors to truly meld together for a balance of crunchy, tart and sweet. Makes 24
24 good-quality corn tortillas
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
3/4 pounds very fresh snapper or other firm, mild white fish, diced
1/2 cup diced Persian cucumbers (about 1)
1/2 cup diced red radish (about 3)
1/3 cup diced red onion (about ½ small)
2 tablespoons diced jalapeno or to taste
3/4 cup diced ripe nectarine
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped Thai or regular basil, plus tiny leaves for garnishing
kosher salt to taste
To make the tostadas, use a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter to cut the tortillas. (If you can find a cutter with fluted edges, it makes it extra pretty.) In pot or deep skillet, add 2 inches of corn oil. Heat the oil to 375 degrees. Add the tortillas in batches, taking care not to crowd. Fry for 30 seconds on one side and use tongs to turn. Fry for another 60 seconds or until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with kosher salt while still hot.
In a medium-sized non-reactive bowl, combine the lime juice and fish. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 45 minutes. Remove and combine with the cucumbers, radish, red onion, and jalapeno. Add the nectarine, cilantro, and Thai basil and toss very gently. Salt to taste. Serve or cover and chill. (The ceviche will keep for a couple hours but is best and brightest served immediately.)
Use a slotted spoon to place 2 tablespoons on a tostada and garnish with a basil leaf. Repeat. Serve. Alternatively, and more casually, allow guests to serve themselves by placing out the tostadas and a bowl full of the ceviche with a spoon. Click here for printable PDF.