Hot town summer in the City
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the City
All around people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk hotter than a match head
I love this song, and this version especially. Something about it manages to convey the sweaty, humid fatigue of deep summer days and the throbbing aliveness of the nights.
At times like these I crave cool, refreshing foods. Recently I've been living off of practically nothing but prickly pears, mangoes and water, with the occasional slice of industrial pastrami snuck at night straight from the fridge, but the fact that we've finally received our city parking permit and are able to park the car close to our apartment makes it harder to find an excuse not to leave the house and get some quality ingredients.
One of the cool things about Israel is that it is both very small and very geographically and climatically diverse, which means we can get excellent fresh produce of all kinds easily.
I let my mind wander for a bit, thinking about what I'd like to eat, and kept on returning to the tastes of Vietnam. The bright, fresh, acidic and spicy flavors and textures were exactly what I needed to cut through the heat, and so I headed out to the market to buy some coriander, basil, ginger and cucumbers, with the intent of making a simple cucumber salad with sugar, sesame oil, rice vinegar, red onions and garlic.
But when I arrived at the market the produce practically cried out to me. Mouth-watering, bright red Italian plum tomatoes, deep orange mangoes and ripe avocados all winked and beckoned. Of course I bought some. And then I bought a fish (a Meagre). And then I realized what I was going to make was no longer even remotely Vietnamese - it was South-American with East-Asian influences, at best.
No matter! It's still delicious.
You can easily switch out the raw fish in this recipe with cooked, (I'd recommend pan seared or deep-fried), with other animals such as shrimp or chicken, or even leave out the animal protein altogether. It won't be a ceviche anymore but it will still make a great, refreshing summer salad.
For the Salad
- 1 Italian plum tomato (or any other tomato you like), diced
- 3 medium-smallish cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise and then halved again lengthwise, then sliced as thinly as possible
- A generous handful of coriander leaves and another of basil. Use Thai basil if you can get it.
- 1 Mango, diced (I used the Maya variety but any will do.)
- 1 mediumish avocado, diced.
- One small red onion, sliced into fine slivers.
- 1 fresh fish fillet, cut into bite sized pieces.
For the dressing:
- Juice of 1 small lemon, or two limes if you can get them (I couldn't).
- One large clove of garlic, minced or crushed to a pulp in mortar and pistil.
- About three cm of ginger root, minced finely.
- About a spoonful of sriracha sauce
- About 3/4ths of a spoonful of sesame oil
- About 3 spoonfuls of canola or other neutral tasting oil
- About a spoonful of white sugar
- About a third of a cup of distilled vinegar
- About a spoonful of white rice vinegar
I suggest cutting and adding in the fish and avocado last, just before adding the dressing, so that they don't oxidize too much.
Serve in a tortilla, in rice paper rolls, or as a salad, and enjoy!