When I took my first sip of Ghost Tequila, I immediately thought that it would be just the thing to upgrade my grilled shrimp ceviche.
Ceviche almost always has minced chiles in it, but because they can be really spicy, you add a small amount to a larger dish. Once the ceviche is made, if you get a bite without any chiles, the sweet heat is missed. I have long added a splash of tequila to my ceviche, but adding the Ghost Tequila to my ceviche adds both the agave spirit and the spicy flavor of ghost peppers. And, most importantly, there is the flavor of the chile in every bite. That consistency was one of the motivations for creating Ghost, although the founders were thinking about making spicy margaritas.
Ghost Tequila was introduced to the market in 2016. It was created by Chris Moran, a former bartender who was looking for a better and more consistent way to make a spicy margarita. After experimenting with all different kinds of chiles, he discovered that the Bhut Jolokia pepper, a.k.a. Ghost pepper, gave him exactly what he was looking for. The small 2-to-3-inch red pepper is one of the world’s hottest chile peppers with a clean, sweet, hot spice.
The base tequila is made from 100% Weber blue agave and is twice-distilled in Jalisco, Mexico. A small amount of ghost pepper extract is added to make the tequila spicy without losing the characteristics of a great blanco tequila—and without adding any vegetal flavor. Moran explains, “… from the beginning, my goal was first and foremost to make a great tequila, and then make it spicy.”
When I asked for his favorite spicy margarita, he sent me a recipe for a spicy pineapple margarita. That inspired me to incorporate pineapple chunks in my grilled shrimp ceviche. I love the twist of adding the sweet acidic pineapple which goes perfectly with grilled shrimp.
Most people I know eat ceviche at restaurants or on beach vacations to Mexico—even though it is thought to originate in Peru. But it is one of those dishes, like sushi, that folks shy away from making at home. I think that is because it is generally made with raw fish, which necessitates having really fresh fish—often hard to find when you live hundreds of miles away from the beach.
This recipe doesn’t require you to leave near the ocean. Most of the time, I make this grilled version with the frozen IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) shrimp that I thaw just before cooking. With my grilled version of ceviche—using shrimp—you can make it anywhere, anytime.
The shrimp is grilled before being marinated in a puree of lime, tomatillos, tequila and cilantro. You could also add or substitute lump crabmeat, baby squid, scallops, and rock…