Delicious Dishes: Dissected

Some of the St. Croix Valley’s best restaurants share recipes for crowd-pleasing dishes you can make at home.

The St. Croix Valley is full of amazing restaurants, but you don’t always need to dine out for a dinner to remember. This month, some of the Valley’s best restaurants share recipes for their most popular menu item, so you can make restaurant-quality dishes in your  kitchen. From the appetizer to the dessert, we’ve got you covered.   

{ Appetizer }
Grilled Ahi Ceviche from Pedro’s del Este | Serves 4

Popular in the coastal regions of South America, ceviche is light and refreshing, and surprisingly easy to make. It’s the perfect way to whet your appetite before delving into your evening’s main course. You’ll have leftover ancho-tomatillo sauce when done, which will make the perfect addition to a pot of chili or a marinade for chicken, beef or pork.

4 3 oz. sushi-grade ahi tuna steaks
1 Tbsp. canola oil
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup marinated onions (recipe below)
1 lime, juice only
4 mint leaves, hand-torn
¼ cup grapefruit, seeded and diced
¼ cup jicama, peeled and diced
½ cup ancho-tomatillo sauce (recipe online)
¼ cup avocado puree (recipe below)
8–10 radish slices, thinly sliced
Spritz of mescal (optional)
Yellow corn tortilla chips

If you have a grill, fire it up, but if not, heat a nonstick sauté pan to medium-high heat. Season the tuna with oil, salt and pepper. Sear heavily for 30 seconds a side, making sure not to overcook the tuna—it should still be cool and pink in the center. Small dice the tuna.

In a small bowl, combine the tuna, marinated onions, lime juice, mint leaves, grapefruit and jicama. Season with salt to taste. It should be acidic, spicy and crunchy. Set aside.
In four small bowls, evenly distribute the ½ cup of ancho-tomatillo sauce. Top with the ceviche, draining out some of the excess juice. Top with a dollop of the avocado puree and a few radishes. Spritz with mezcal, and serve with corn tortilla chips.
Marinated Onions

1½ red onion, diced small
1 small jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
½ lime, juice only
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients, and let stand for 30 minutes to marinate. Check for seasoning.

Avocado Puree

1 avocado
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients into a small food processor and blend until smooth, scraping avocado off the side from time to time. Check for seasoning.

{ Entrée }
Pepita-crusted Snapper with Green Curry Coconut Sauce from San Pedro Café | Serves 4

San Pedro Café’s pepita-crusted snapper is a crowd-pleaser. Follow this recipe for a unique fusion of flavors sure to leave you and your dinner guests both satisfied and impressed.

4 pepita-crusted snapper (recipe below)
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 Tbsp. butter
3 cups coconut mango broth (recipe below)
4 Tbsp. green curry (recipe online)
4 portions jasmine or basmati rice

After making the crust, broth and curry, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large nonstick sauté pan, heat the canola oil and butter until frothy. Add the snapper (cook in batches if fillets won’t fit all at once), and cook until golden brown. Flip fillets, and transfer to a baking tray. Bake until heated through or until internal thermometer reaches 145 degrees.

While the snapper is baking, combine coconut mango broth and green curry in a small sauce pot. Bring to a simmer.
When the snapper is finished, distribute the rice evenly at the bottom of four bowls, and top with a fillet of snapper. Evenly distribute the curry broth into each bowl over the snapper.

Pepita-crusted Snapper

½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 serrano chili, seeded and sliced
5–6 sprigs cilantro, roughly chopped
1¼ cup flour (divided)
¾ cup bread crumbs (Panko works well)
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
½ cup water
4 6–8 oz. skinless snapper fillets

Combine pumpkin seeds, serrano, cilantro, ¼ cup of the flour, bread crumbs, chili and salt into a food processor. Blend until smooth and uniform, forming the pepita crust.

Set the remaining flour into a dish large enough to hold the snapper. Combine the eggs and water, and whisk to combine. Put the egg wash into another container large enough to hold the snapper. Do the same with the pepita crust. Drench each snapper in the flour, followed by the egg wash and finally the pepita crust, pressing the breading into the snapper to help it adhere. Set aside.

Coconut Mango Broth

½ red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 thumbnail-size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 Tbsp. lemongrass, minced
1 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup mango puree
12 oz. coconut milk
¼ cup lime juice
3 fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp. cilantro

Sauté red onion, garlic, ginger and lemongrass until soft. Add remaining ingredients, and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Season to taste, and strain through a fine mesh strainer.

San Pedro Green Curry
1 tsp. lemongrass, minced
1 small serrano chili (optional, seeded and minced)
1 tsp. jalapeno chili, seeded and minced
1 Tbsp. ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup basil leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup cilantro, lightly packed
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. lime juice, fresh squeezed
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. coconut milk
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients into a blender, and blend until very smooth.

{ Dessert }
Apple Dumplings from the Afton House Inn | Serves 4
Don’t forget dessert! The Afton House Inn’s apple dumplings are a sweet, flaky treat—especially when drizzled with caramel syrup and served with vanilla ice cream.

4 green apples
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
4 8-by-8-inch puff pastry squares
Egg wash
Vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Peel then core each apple. Mix the brown and white sugar together, and stuff inside the core, then use it to dust the outside of each apple. Place each apple on its own puff pastry square and wrap them. Egg wash the puff pastries. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on the top of each pastry. Bake for 30–40 at 300 degrees or until golden brown. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and top with caramel.