What to bring to Mrs. T’s for the 4th of July…

Ceviche with Artificial Crab Meat
Ceviche with Artificial Crab Meat

In my (almost) 30 years of life, I have spent the fourth of July mostly with my family at the beach, eating bbq, building sand castles, crashing with the waves, watching fireworks, and overall, having fun.  There have been only 2 instances when I missed this holiday with my family.  The first time, I was turning 16.

In early June that year, I asked my dad if I could have a party with a DJ for my Sweet 16.  I was surprised that he said “Yes” but more stunned by the words following, “Yes, you can have a party with a DJ.  Get a job and pay for it.”  So there I was, a 15 year old, at Subway Sandwiches on the fourth of July, making sandwiches with extra avocado, listening to K-Earth 101, the oldies music station, and wishing I’d be crashing waves in the ocean and rolling around in the sandy beach.  I didn’t think my life would ever be the same – I had a sandwich, not even a barbecue sandwich.  I had cold cuts and it was the fourth of July!  When my birthday rolled around though, all the bread and cookie baking, sandwich and salad creating paid off.  I had a party, paid for the DJ, the food, and the sparkling cider that some mistook for champagne.

The second time I missed a 4th of July with the family was 2 years ago when I decided to spend the day at Hermosa Beach with Peyman.  It was jam-packed with all types of folks- from your rowdy and belligerent, to your cheerful and patriotic.  We had sandwiches with cold cuts as we watched crowds of friends and families play and have good times at the beach. For me, a holiday I enjoy most and prefer is one spent with good friends and family.

This year’s a little different.  Instead of going to the beach or park, we’re going to Montebello, California.  We’re going to Mrs. T’s, Riva’s mother-in-law’s.  Mrs. T is a great cook; I’ve enjoyed everything that’s been prepared in her kitchen.  Born and raised in Hawaii to a Japanese mother and a Chinese father, then moving to California in high school, she’s been exposed to all sorts people and food.  I wonder what she’s preparing on the 4th.  Since it’s a national barbecuing day, I’m thinking she’ll be having some sort of grilled food.

I’m not one to attend a party empty-handed and I’m still deciding on what to bring.  Should I bring something sweet or something to snack on, or a side dish..how about something refreshing and somewhat healthy. We’re going to Montebello, an area that’s about a 45 minute drive to the ocean…I know, why not bring the ocean to Montebello?

Maybe I’ll make ceviche!  The other night, I made ceviche with artificial crab.  Ceviche is traditionally made with raw, sushi grade fish.  In fact, my sister, Mimi, used to make a delicious ceviche in junior/high school with yellowtail.  She learned the recipe through one of her friends.  It was so good, but we stopped eating it when we learned that the fish was raw, cooked using vinegar and/or citrus.  Since we lived very close to Mexico, and there were a lot of sewage breaks in Tijuana, Mexico (about a 5 minute freeway drive away), we didn’t want to mess around.  I still don’t want to mess around with raw fish until I’m professionally trained to do so.  For now I’ll stick with the fully-cooked fish that we call, artificial crab. If you didn’t already know, artificial crab is usually made of Alaskan Pollack fish.

I love ceviche with tostadas or chips.  For a healthier chip or tostada, I leftover corn tortillas to make tostadas or chips.  I bake the tortilla at 400 degrees in the oven for about 7 minutes or until brown and crispy.  You can add oil if you want to, but it’s not neccesary.

My favorite tostada brand, Los Pericos
My favorite tostada brand, Los Pericos

I always eat my ceviche tostadas with a few dashes of Tapatio sauce – salsa picante hot .  It is so good!

Here’s the recipe below.

Ceviche with Artificial Crab Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes     Serves: 4 to 5


1 pound artificial crab, shredded

3 to 4 tomatoes, diced

3/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup white onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup green onion, chopped

2 limes, juiced

1/2 cup crushed pineapple or diced orange segments (optional)

1 tablespoon of good extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons of jalapeno or serrano pepper, finely chopped (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Tapatio sauce -salsa picante hot , as needed


In a large bowl, add the crab meat, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, peppers, fruit, lime juice, oil, salt, pepper.  Toss well, add salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Serve on tostada shell or in a bowl with a side of chips.  I like Tostito chips, or Mexican Restaurant-style chips.  I highly recommend adding a few dashes of Tapatio sauce to top it off.

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