A Look Inside Heidi Krahling’s Famed Marinitas and Insalata’s

MARIN COUNTY IS a unique community with honed tastes, and no one knows this better than Heidi Krahling. The longtime chef is the owner of two San Anselmo restaurants — Mediterranean-inspired Insalata’s and Latin fusion hot spot Marinitas — both award winners, both favorites of hungry locals and both spotlighted in Insalata’s and Marinitas: The Story of Two Restaurants. Krahling’s latest cookbook offered the chef a chance to showcase her penchant for Latin American–inspired recipes, an affinity that has only heightened through her collaborative work with Marinitas chef Frank Villa. Born and raised in Mexico, Villa tested the waters at Sushi Ran and Insalata’s before taking over a kitchen more representative of his culinary heritage. The salmon ceviche presented here features full-bodied flavors brought to life by Marinitas’ signature chile water. “All chefs strive to achieve dishes that aren’t only balanced, but also have flavor peaks and valleys,” says Krahling. “At Marinitas, our go-to flavor accent is chile water. As the heat of chiles de árbol is tamed by agave nectar and oil, the chile water lends complexity to the dish, giving the fish an addictive kick.”

Peruvian Salmon Ceviche

Serves 6

Peruvian Salmon Ceviche


  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ teaspoon ground chiles de árbol
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt (half for chile water, half for ceviche)
  • 1 aji amarillo chile
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces salmon fillet, sliced
  • ½ inch thick (preferably from the belly)
  • 1 large navel orange, segmented and cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • ¼ cup minced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced serrano chiles
  • Diced avocado
  • Tortilla chips

To Prepare

For Chile Water

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small sauté pan.
  2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 30 seconds.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chiles de árbol.
  4. Cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the agave nectar, lemon juice and ½ teaspoon salt.

For Ceviche

  1. Remove stems and seeds from the aji amarillo chile.
  2. Soak the chile in hot water until soft and pliable and then transfer to a blender with a splash of the soaking water.
  3. Puree the chile until it forms a paste, adding more water if needed to aid the pureeing process.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together cumin, coriander, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper.
  5. Season the salmon evenly with the spice mix.
  6. Heat a thin film of oil in a sauté pan over high heat.
  7. Sear the salmon briefly, about 10 seconds each side. Each fillet should have a golden sear on the outside but be completely rare inside.
  8. Transfer the salmon to a plate and let cool to room temperature.
  9. Cut salmon into a ½-inch dice. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled.

To serve

  1. In a chilled bowl, combine salmon with orange pieces, cilantro, red onions, green onions and serrano chiles.
  2. Stir in 2 tablespoons of aji amarillo puree and about ¼ cup of the chile water.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste, mixing carefully to avoid breaking up the salmon.
  4. Spoon into individual glasses or serve in a large bowl. 5 Garnish with avocado and serve with tortilla chips on the side.

This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition under the headline: “Something in the Water.”