Originally published May 6, 2013
'The Chef' is more than a mythical figment of my imagination. While becoming a regular at 'The Chef's Corner' in Naperville, we became good friends. The friendship started on our love for the game of basketball spilling over to ethnic culinary arts. We stay in touch by having him pass on the recipes that I became accustomed to eating while visiting his restaurant.
Did you know that not everyone is considered equal at Farmer's Markets? Vegetables are easy to spoil if you shop at a Whole Foods that does not get a ton of turnover...and the stuff at Jewel/Dominicks isn't that great. My answer to that problem was visiting local Farmer's Markets. During one of my visits with the Chef, he told me that not everyone that shows up there are actual farmers. Outside of Chicago, it is perfectly legal to buy strawberries by the truckload and resell them. Inside Chicago, the rules are different but you catch the drift.
People play games and it is up to you to ask the right questions. It also helps to get to know your farmer anyway to ask questions about what you are buying. The farmer that I support here locally routinely keeps me posted on what he has coming up for harvest.
Having moved to LA, I called up the Chef regarding the local farmer market. My last call was centered around a 'reseller' peddling seafood. The quality is good, the variety is nice but the prices are in line if not more than the local Whole Foods. After exchanging angry adjectives and nouns the Chef responded...."stop buying from that ^&*^#@, here is how to make Shrimp Ceviche Tacos. You will like"
CHEF'S SHRIMP CEVICHE TACOS
- 1LB SHRIMP
- 1 AVOCADO
- HALF SEEDLESS CUCUMBER
- HALF RED ONION
- 1 ROMA TOMATO
- 1 1/2 CUP OF DICED PINEAPPLE
- JUICE FROM 3 LIMES
- JUICE FROM 2 LEMONS
- TWO OR THREE SERANO PEPPERS
- 1 SMALL CAN OF PINEAPPLE JUICE
- SALT AND FRESH BLACK PEPPER
Boil shrimp in salted water for 2 minutes. Cool them in ice water, then set them on the side. Dice onions,avocados,cucumbers,put them in a bowl mixed with pineapple and juices. chopped cilantro, reserve some cilantro for garnish. Add diced shrimp,salt and pepper, let them stand for 1 hour room temperature. Meanwhile, make guacamole from another avocado. Heat the tortillas spoon some guacamole , add drained ceviche and garnish with reserved cilantro.
Notes: The shrimp that I used just had the tails on, making the food prep easy for this. If you need a reminder for how to make Chef's guacamole. I used the small corn tortillas reheated in the microwave wrapped in a damp towel. Try to serve this with a citrus drink, my choice for this photo shoot was a Corpse Reviver #2. Pineapples are tough to find ripe, look for the ones that are not green at the bottom with the leaves on top somewhat 'loose'. Most grocery stores will have pre-cut halved pineapples, use that. For my white readers, Serrano peppers are hot...you might just want to use one or two.
Vedad Vrselj calls Travnik home despite being forced out during the Bosnian War. His former restaurant in Naperville remains one of the most respected and highly reviewed eateries in the area winning awards for best burger and infuriated competition with better ingredients for less money (His yelp reviews). His cult following continues with catering to the Chicagoland area and stays in touch with his Facebook page.