Blue Corn Ceviche with Charred Grapefruit and Mezcal Vinaigrette

Blue Corn Ceviche with Charred Grapefruit and Mezcal Vinaigrette
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About This Recipe

Napa Valley, the heart and soul of California's wine country, is not just a region famed for its vines but also for its rich tapestry of cultural influences and cuisines. Amid the rolling hills and scenic vineyards, you'll find an array of dishes that tell tales from across the globe. Today, we journey south of the border, inspired by the vibrancy of Central American flavors, with a recipe that brings together tradition and innovation – the Blue Corn Ceviche with Charred Grapefruit and Mezcal Vinaigrette.

Blue corn, or as the indigenous tribes call it, hopi blue corn, is not your average grain. It carries deep-rooted cultural significance for the Pueblo tribes and is considered a staple of the Native American diet. With a slightly nuttier taste than its yellow or white counterparts, blue maize has found its way into an assortment of dishes, from tortillas to tamales. This recipe, however, uses it in a way that might be a delightful surprise for many.

Ceviche, traditionally a dish where fresh fish is "cooked" in citrus juices, is uplifted by the crunch of the blue corn, the smokiness of charred grapefruit, and the punch of the mezcal vinaigrette. The blue corn gives it not only a delightful texture but a visual pop that is sure to wow diners.

Let's talk wine – because what's a meal in the heart of wine country without the perfect pairing? The zesty and citrus-heavy nature of this ceviche finds a soulmate in Sauvignon Blanc. With its zesty lime, green apple, and sometimes herbaceous tones, it's a match made in culinary heaven. If you find yourself touring the Valley, don't forget to make a pitstop at Frog's Leap Winery or St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery, both of which offer stellar versions of this varietal.

On the other hand, if you're seeking an aromatic experience, look no further than Albariño. With its salinity and fruit-forward profile, it accentuates the seafood elements of the ceviche flawlessly. While slightly off the beaten Napa path, Lodi's Bokisch Vineyards and Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards have made a mark with this varietal and are worth the detour.

Now, for the recipe. Start with the freshest fish you can find – perhaps from one of Sonoma's local fishmongers. Marinate it in a combination of lime and charred grapefruit juice until it turns opaque. Meanwhile, prepare your mezcal vinaigrette – a mix of mezcal, olive oil, a touch of honey, and some finely chopped chilies for heat. Fold in toasted blue corn kernels, diced avocado, red onions, and fresh cilantro. Once your fish is ready, mix it all together and serve it chilled, garnished with extra charred grapefruit segments and a generous drizzle of your vinaigrette.

If you're planning a multi-course meal, consider serving the ceviche as a refreshing appetizer. Follow it up with a hearty California-style grilled vegetable salad or a smoky barbecued meat dish – both of which would still pair beautifully with your chosen wines.

To anyone visiting or interested in Napa, this ceviche is not just a dish; it's an experience. It tells a story of the region's ability to blend the old with the new, the local with the global. And as you sit back, with a glass of perfectly paired wine in hand, and savor each bite, you'll be transported – not just to Central America but to the very heart of California's wine country, where culinary dreams come alive every day.

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Blue Corn

The Magic of Blue Corn

Blue corn, also known as Hopi maize, is not just a striking hue in a dish but a testament to centuries of agricultural and culinary tradition. Originating from the Pueblo Native tribes, this unique grain is more than just its color. Rich in anthocyanins, which give it its distinctive blue-purple shade, blue corn has been associated with a host of health benefits, from anti-inflammatory properties to improved digestion.

But beyond its health attributes, blue corn stands out in taste and texture. Its slightly nuttier flavor profile, compared to the more common yellow or white corn, makes it a gastronomic delight, offering a depth of flavor that can elevate any dish. In the context of this ceviche, the blue corn not only introduces an earthy crunch but also a visual contrast, making the dish a feast for both the palate and the eyes.

Helpful 'How to': Char the Grapefruit to Perfection

Getting the Perfect Char on Your Grapefruit

  1. Preheat: Ensure your grill or grill pan is searing hot. This ensures quick caramelization without cooking the grapefruit through.
  2. Slice it Right: Halve the grapefruit along its equator rather than from the stem. This provides a broader surface area for charring.
  3. Oil it Up: Lightly brush the flesh of the grapefruit with a touch of olive oil. This will prevent sticking and enhance the caramelization.
  4. Time Matters: Grill the grapefruit halves flesh side down for about 3-4 minutes. Watch for the edges to begin curling and the surface to attain a deep caramel hue.
  5. Cooling is Crucial: Once charred, allow the grapefruit to cool. This makes it easier to juice and integrates the smoky flavor more deeply.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Answering Your Ceviche Curiosities

  1. Can I use another fish if I don’t have sea bass or halibut? Absolutely! The key is to use fresh, firm white fish. Varieties like snapper, grouper, or mahi-mahi would also work well.
  2. How long can I store the ceviche? For optimal freshness, consume within 24 hours. If stored in an airtight container in the fridge, it can last up to 2 days. Always ensure it smells fresh before consuming.
  3. Any alternatives to mezcal for the vinaigrette? Tequila is a close relative and can be a substitute. However, mezcal's smoky profile gives the vinaigrette its distinctive taste. If avoiding alcohol, a dash of liquid smoke can mimic some of that smokiness.
  4. I'm allergic to cilantro. Can I skip it or replace it? Definitely! If you're not a fan or are allergic to cilantro, parsley or chives can be a good alternative, providing freshness without the distinctive cilantro flavor.
  5. Can I use frozen corn instead of fresh blue corn? While fresh blue corn kernels are ideal for their crunch and flavor, frozen blue corn can also be used. Ensure you thaw and drain them to prevent excess moisture.

Tips for Success

Ensuring Ceviche Perfection

  1. Freshness is Key: Always use the freshest fish available. The fish is "cooked" by the acid from the citrus, so quality is paramount.
  2. Balance the Heat: Adjust the amount of jalapeño to your heat preference. Remember, you can always add more, but you can't take it away!
  3. Serve Cold: Ceviche is best served chilled. After mixing with the vinaigrette, consider placing it back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes for optimal taste and texture.

Recipe Overview

Blue Corn Ceviche with Charred Grapefruit and Mezcal Vinaigrette
Lily Anderson
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 1 lb fresh white fish (like sea bass or halibut), diced into small cubes
  • 1 cup fresh blue corn, removed from the cob
  • 1 grapefruit, halved
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons mezcal
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Blue corn tortilla chips, for serving

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Preheat a grill or grill pan on high heat. Once hot, place the grapefruit halves flesh side down and grill until charred, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the diced fish, blue corn, cilantro, lime juice, red onion, and jalapeño. Mix well and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. For the mezcal vinaigrette: Squeeze the juice from the charred grapefruit into a small bowl. Add mezcal, olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper. Whisk together until well combined.
  4. After the fish has marinated, drain off any excess liquid from the bowl. Pour the mezcal vinaigrette over the fish mixture and toss gently to coat.
  5. Serve the ceviche with blue corn tortilla chips.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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