Five Senses Reviews


Mexipanese Fest: Cevicherashi with Nori-crusted Tostadas
washed down with Shiso Tequila Mojitos

Mexipanese Fest

Cevicherashi Tostada

Cevichirashi Tostadas

I've been neglecting the gustatory and olfactory senses in these 5¢ense reviews lately. Not that we've been neglecting our taste buds lately, to the contrary. Though since we moved into our new apartment, that actually has a kitchen, go figure, we've been cooking more. That, compounded with the fact that we live down the street from Fairway, which is so mind-blowing it doesn't deserve to be called a market, but a museum or gallery of fine food, akin to fine art. And admittedly, the restaurants on the upper west side are for the most part inferior, and more expensive, than lower and easter. I'm also inspired by my new boss at Heavy, who has this other secret identity as Betty Rocker, the foodie blogger (hey boss!).

Being that my better half was leaving yesterday to Kenya for two weeks, I wanted to make her something special for her last meal, something that she wouldn't be getting a lot of in Africa (and she has already arrived, and we just skyped which is like the coolest thing since sliced bread, and it's fucking free! She already posted some pictures from her first day in Nairobi on her site).

I've always thought that if I opened a restaurant, it would be a Mexican-Japanese restaurant. Normally I don't like fusion food, and think it's always best to stick to the cuisines as they are true to the country. If you want Mexican food, eat at a Mexican restaurant run by Mexicans. If you want Japanese, eat at a Japanese-run place. Problem is I love both Mexican and Japanese, for different reasons, and something about them makes them seem like the perfect marriage. In some ways they are polar opposites, in other ways they have a lot in common.

Anyway, a dish I've been meaning to test out, is a marriage between ceviche and chirashi or sushi. Though technically, ceviche is Peruvian. I'm more familiar with the Mexican brand of ceviche, heavy with lime and chiles and eaten on tostadas, and usually with your feet in the sand whilst drinking cold beer (Tecate with lemon and salt). And if I mistakenly say "lemon" I really mean lime, the green ones, as that is a lemon to most Mexicans. I don't bother with those big yellow things. Limes ('limas") are something different there, big things sweet enough to eat on their own, kind of like a grapefruit. And speaking of limes, the following recipes are pretty heavy on lime (as well as chiles) so adjust to your tastes. One thing I learned in Mexico, is that lemon, salt and chile is the cure for anything bland. Take a cucumber or jicama or corn or potato chips, douse it with lemon and salt and chile powder or sauce, and presto, you've got something delicious.

I decided to experiment with two types of "cevicherashi," one salmon-based and the other tuna-based. Choosing the fish is the most important part. We got ours at Fairway, the salmon was organic, though they didn't have organic tuna. The shiso, shishitos, wasabi, nori and other Japanese stuff we got at Sunrise market. I also made guacamole, which even though it is a Mexican dish, has always struck me as something that is right at home on a Japanese plate. I also roasted up some green onions and shishitos and we washed it all down with tequila-shiso mojitos. Oh, and in lieu of rice, and regular tostadas, I decided to encrust tostadas with seaweed. More on that below...


Tuna Lime Cucumber Serrano Cevicherashi

  • 1/2 lb. of fresh tuna
  • about 1/4 of a cucumber
  • 2-4 limes (the green ones!)
  • 1-2 serranos
  • generous handful of fresh cilantro
  • green onions
  • a generous dose of tequila
  • garlic
  • sea salt and other spices to taste

I realized afterwards, that everything was very green. So throwing some diced tomatoes into the mix is probably a good idea especially for color. I thought to do that, but just forgot. Also, if you don't like it spicy, then use jalapenos instead, or if you are really adverse to spice then shishitos will work nicely. Dice everything up. The tuna I diced up less than you would normally do for ceviche. Enough so the outside is seared in the tequila and lime, but the inside is still raw. Use enough lime and tequila that everything gets nice and soaking wet. It's best to use tupperware with a lid so you can shake it all up real good. Let it sit for like an hour. Normal ceviche you'd probably let soak for longer, especially if the fish isn't fresh, but again, I wanted this to be somewhat raw like chirashi or sushi.


Salmon Shiso Ponzu Gingko Jicama Cevicherashi a la Fujimoro

  • 1/2 lb. of fresh salmon
  • fresh jicama
  • 2-4 limes
  • handful of shiso leaves
  • roasted gingko nuts
  • a dose of ponzu sauce
  • fresh grated ginger
  • wasabi
  • garlic
  • sea salt and other spices to taste

Gingkos aren't in season, at least we couldn't find fresh ones, so we settled for canned. They weren't bad once I roasted them up. The crunch of the gingko and jicama is a nice contrast. Again, don't dice the salmon in too small of chunks, so the inner part stays nice and buttery raw. I might have put some other stuff in there, I forget. Dice it all up and mix together and let it sit for about an hour.


Nori-crusted Tostadas

  • corn tortillas
  • nori

This was the hard part. And honestly, I can't say it was a success. You should do this before anything else as it doesn't hurt to let the tostadas sit out for a while and cool and harden. First I tried slapping the nori on a wet tortilla and frying them but that didn't really work as the seaweed wasn't sticking. Then I tried coating the tortilla in egg, and the nori stuck to it better. I fried up and few, and then baked a few. Then I tried dousing the nori in water first and it stuck to the tortilla just fine without the egg, though frying them didn't work too well. In summary, I think soaking the nori in water, slapping it on the tortilla, and then baking it worked best. This is after cutting the nori in the shape of a tortilla. The leftover bits you get when you subtract a circle from a square you can rip and throw in something else. Oh yah, that was the other thing I put in the Salmon Cevicherashi. Bake the tostadas for like ten minutes or until golden brown but not burnt. Thing is, I don't know if it was because of the water, but the nori-crusted tostadas were a bit on the chewy side. But the combination of nori and corn was nice if you can figure out how to get it to be more crispy. I'm thinking next time I'll mix the nori straight into the masa and fry up the tortillas ourselves, maybe even in a chalupa boat so the cevicherashi has something to sit in. Thankfully, I also baked up some plain tortillas which were nice and crispy. And we also used rice crackers, which went pretty well with the cevicherashi.



  • soft avocados
  • limes
  • cilantro
  • serranos or jalapenos
  • garlic
  • green onions
  • salt and spices to taste

Not exactly rocket science, and nothing Japanese about it except that it resembles wasabi. Everyone's got their own guac recipe, but my preference is lots of lime (not the yellow ones!), cilantro and serranos. Mushing up an avocado is not guacamole until these things are added. Call it an avocado salad if you have to, but please. Purple onions instead of green ones work just fine, especially for color, and again, tomatoes are good for color, but too much diffuses the holy guacamoleness.

We also fried up some green onions and shishito peppers, which don't really need a recipe. Grilled would have been even better, but we don't have a grill. You could even do it yakitori style and then you'd really have a Mexipanese fest going on.


Tequila Shiso Mojitos

  • Tequila (in our case, Patron, though this might be even better with a good mezcal)
  • Shiso leaves
  • soda or seltzer water, hell, maybe even quinine
  • limes
  • (lychees as an afterthought)

Okay, so not exactly Mexican and not even really a mojito since I don't have the patience to crush the leaves, so more like shiso infused tequila. This was actually inspired by our favorite bar, Angel's Share, that has a shiso-infused vodka drink that is to die for. Like Angel's Share, a good mixed drink is all about the ice, especially in the summer. The picture below was taken at Angel's Share, as I marveled at the cellular qualities of the ice. I don't know how they do it, but I put New York City tap water in a tupperware container and froze it overnight and then broke it into big chunks, though they didn't look nearly as pleasing as this:

ice cube, shiso-infused vodka

Jess thought to add lychees, which was a nice touch. Regardless, a bowl of fresh lychees was a good way to cap off the meal. Bone ape-tit.