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Ceviche de Aguja with Ginger and Mezcal Recipe

The earthy, smoky flavor of the mezcal sets up both the sharpness of the citrus in the marinade and the fattiness of the avocado.
Ceviche de Aguja with Ginger and Mezcal Recipe
Photo by Matt Zuras

Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 35 minutes
Total time: 1 hour


for the pickled white onions:
1 white onion, thinly sliced on a mandoline or with a sharp knife
1 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons kosher salt

for the ginger mezcal agua:
½ cup thinly sliced ginger
½ cup fresh lime juice (from 5 to 6 limes)
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons mezcal
½ teaspoon honey
1 serrano chile, coarsely chopped
⅓ cup dried chamomile or organic chamomile tea
kosher salt


for the ceviche:
1 pound sea bass fillets, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices (see Note)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup pickled white onions
4 radishes, julienned
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
⅓ cup ½-inch cubes seeded cucumber
¼ cup hoja santa leaves, cut into ½-inch squares (optional)
1 Hass avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and cubed
½ teaspoon dried chamomile or organic chamomile tea for garnish
radish sprouts for garnish (optional)
sea salt for garnish


1. Make the pickled white onions: We make most of our pickles with a simple cold brine solution because we're not preserving these ingredients so much as focusing their flavors. Most of our pickles are best refrigerated for at least 4 hours before using, or overnight, in order to allow the flavors to develop, but you can use them sooner if you must. They will keep in the refrigerator for a week. Almost all our pickles work the same way: slice up what you're going to pickle and put it into a jar, mix the brine solution, and pour it in. These recipes are designed to work for a 1-pint Mason jar, but the yield from the produce you use might be different from what we get in the Yucatán. If you have too much solution, don't use it all; if you have too little, give the jar a shake every so often to distribute the liquid.

2. Make the ginger mezcal agua: Combine the ginger, lime juice, cucumber, mezcal, honey, serrano, and chamomile in a blender and blend on high for about 30 seconds, until well blended. Pass through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl and add salt to taste.

3. Make the ceviche: Put the bass in a bowl, add the ginger mezcal agua and salt, and gently mix to combine. Add the pickled white onions, radishes, serrano, cucumber, and hoja santa, if using, and mix gently. Let stand for 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Using a slotted spoon, divide the ceviche among individual serving bowls. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the ginger mezcal agua over each serving. Garnish with the avocado, chamomile, radish sprouts, if using, and sea salt.

Author's Note: How to Slice for Ceviche When you cut fish for ceviche, angle your knife at 45 degrees and make thin cuts against the grain so that each piece is about ¼-inch thick. Make sure that you are slicing in one fluid movement—it's like slicing through an apple, not sawing though a loaf of bread. Be mindful that the grain might change as you move along the fish, so be sure to adjust the angle of your cut accordingly. Take your time. You're making ceviche for you and your friends, not trying to beat the clock. At Hartwood, we slice tuna loin into lengths and sprinkle with salt and chamomile for a quick cure before cutting into thin slices for ceviche.

Excerpted from Hartwood by Eric Werner and Mya Henry with Christine Mulke and Oliver Strand (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015.