Cooking with Citrus at Novato’s Beso Bistro

PALM TREES AND sunlit patios are generally hallmarks of Southern California, but here in Marin they also encapsulate Beso Bistro. Located in Novato’s Hamilton Field, the restaurant highlights locally sourced organic produce, fresh sustainable seafood and pasture-raised, free-range meat. Wine lovers can embrace their inner Dionysus, with more than 20 selections by the glass and more than 50 by the bottle. Most California appellations are carried here, along with some imports and wines on tap. Guests can enjoy said wines and the restaurant’s coastal Californian fare either inside, with local artwork from the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art on the walls, or on the expansive patio. One of Beso Bistro’s signature dishes is ceviche — which might seem an adventurous recipe for home cooks to replicate, concedes restaurant founder Michelle Berlin: “The concept of ‘cooking’ raw shrimp and fish simply in citrus may sound like something better left to professionals,” she says. “But give it a try.” The acid in the lemon or lime will turn the seafood from translucent and gray to opaque, white and pink. “[The dish] is a delightful gift from our neighbors to the south and the surrounding islands,” says Berlin. “Recipes vary from region to region, depending on what is available, and this recipe is fairly basic, yet customized to what we have here in Marin: locally caught wild Pacific snapper and organic Meyer lemons.”

Wild Pacific Snapper and Shrimp Ceviche


1  pound wild Pacific snapper (or rock cod) fillets, cut into ½-inch pieces

1  pound large (16/20 per pound) shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon or lime juice, or more as needed
½ medium red onion, finely chopped
1 to 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded, finely chopped (taste and adjust amount to your heat preference)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped seeded tomatoes with excess juice drained
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Avocado slices
Tortilla chips, homemade or store-bought

To Prepare

1 In a large nonreactive baking dish, such as Pyrex or ceramic, combine the snapper, shrimp, lemon juice, onion, jalapeños, salt and pepper. Stir to blend and spread evenly in the dish. The snapper and shrimp should be just covered with lemon juice. If needed, add more juice to cover.

2 Refrigerate the ceviche for 1 hour, then stir to redistribute the marinade. Spread the ceviche again and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight until opaque.

3 Before serving, add the tomatoes and cilantro and stir to combine. Top with the avocado and serve with the tortilla chips.

Kasia Pawlowska

Kasia Pawlowska loves words. A native of Poland, Kasia moved to the States when she was seven. The San Francisco State University creative writing graduate went on to write for publications like the San Francisco Bay Guardian and KQED Arts among others prior to joining the Marin Magazine staff. Topics Kasia has covered include travel, trends, mushroom hunting, an award-winning series on social media addiction and loads of other random things. When she’s not busy blogging or researching and writing articles, she’s either at home writing postcards and reading or going to shows. Recently, Kasia has been trying to branch out and diversify, ie: use different emojis. Her quest for the perfect chip is never-ending.