Chef Elia Herrera is a culinary force. Hailing from Cordoba, Mexico, she has two notable restaurants in Toronto and has been a contestant on Top Chef Canada. Herrera is now executive chef and co-owner at Milpa in Calgary. The contemporary Mexican restaurant is a passion project rooted in her family recipes. Here, Herrera breaks down one of Milpa’s most talked-about dishes, the coconut ceviche.
Coconut milk and water, ginger, lime and Maggi seasoning come together to make a creamy-yet-light, savoury-yet-sweet base for the rest of the dish. “I love coconut,” Herrera says. “I think it goes with everything.”
Shaved young coconut and crisp fresh jicama are at the hub of the dish, and add contrasting textures to every bite. “The original recipe is my mom’s, but I adapted it to be vegan,” Herrera says. “She does it with shrimp.”
Chef Herrera tops the ceviche with diced red onion, cilantro microgreens, basil jalapeño oil and sliced serrano peppers for a bit of heat. The final touch is pomegranate seeds to add sweetness and what Hererra calls “a pop of juice.” She adds, “The flavour is not that prominent, but it’s still refreshing.”
A side of fried plantains, taro and corn chips deliver the ceviche from bowl to mouth. Each chip has its own slightly different flavour profile, so no two bites are exactly alike.
Milpa’s bar manager John Fairholm suggests matching the ceviche with the Mexican Firing Squad, a play on a traditional margarita with flavours of pomegranate.