By Jeanne Winnick Brennan
Photography by Dave Brooks
Acapulco native Arturo Vargas grew up eating the traditional cuisine of his coastal hometown.
“My mother and grandmother used some great rustic methods typical of their area: wrapping tamales and seafood in banana leaves, carefully preparing the masa (corn dough), grinding the peppers and spices, and cooking some dishes in the ground,” says Vargas. “I decided to attend culinary school so that I could bring attention to a new, healthy way of eating authentic Mexican food.”
Vargas honed his skills at a cooking school not far from the ocean in Pinotepa Nacional in the state of Oaxaca, a region known for its intriguing, complex food. He then went to work at San Francisco’s famed Fog City Diner before moving to Sacramento. Today, he and several partners operate a catering business called Taste for the Senses.
“I’ll cater for any size group, from a small dinner party to 600 people,” says Vargas. “The greatest thing for me is to see people’s happy reactions when they taste something like this seviche and learn about Acapulco-style cuisine.”
Acapulco Style Seviche
To make shrimp broth, place two cups of water, three cloves of chopped garlic and salt in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the fresh whole shrimp and cook for three minutes. Remove shrimp and discard or save for another use. Set aside the cooking broth.
Remove seeds and veins from pasilla chiles. Place the chiles, the remaining two cloves of chopped garlic and the orange juice in a blender and purée. Add the reserved shrimp broth and tomato juice and blend briefly.
Place the tiger prawns, scallops and tuna in a large glass bowl and add the lime juice. Cover and let marinate for two hours. (The lime juice will “cook” the raw seafood.)
Add the shrimp broth-tomato juice mixture to the “cooked” seafood, then add the chopped tomato, onion, avocado, cucumber, cilantro, salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Chill for at least three hours. Spoon seviche into margarita glasses and garnish with lime wedges. Serve with tortilla chips or saltines to enjoy alongside. Serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer.
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice