Ceviche – A Fancy, Expensive Seafood Dish Made Easy at Home?

By 5 m read

Ceviche (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Yes, that’s right! The “made easy at home” part. The other part, not so much. Ceviche is neither fancy nor expensive. It’s all about the quality of the ingredients. Be mindful of what you cook with. 

 

A couple weeks ago, a friend and terrific trivia host – he hosts every Tuesday at the Riegelsville Inn, go check him out – and reader of maplewoodroad.com, asked me about ceviche and how to make it at home. So, John, here we go: 

 

What is Ceviche?

Ceviche is a seafood dish in which the seafood is cooked (technically called “cured”) in citrus juices such as lemon and/or lime. Ceviche is the perfect dish on a hot summer day. You don’t have to turn on a stove or light a grill and create even more heat. The acid from the citrus fruit will do the cooking (curing) for you. Hot chilies are used for heat and the most common other additions to a ceviche dish are chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and sea salt. It sounds so easy because it is so easy!

 

Where did Ceviche originate?

This question is much harder to answer than the precious one. It’s generally accepted that ceviche originated in Peru. After all, it’s considered their national dish. Archeologists found some evidence of a similar dish that may have been consumed in Peru 2,000 years ago. Some historians believe that a predecessor of ceviche was brought by a Moorish woman from Granada, Spain, who accompanied the Spanish conquistadors to Peru. Either way, today it’s an international dish with many local and distinctive varieties, mostly found in South and Central America, with Peru still being the name that pops in my head when someone mentions ceviche.  

 

The Do’s and Don’ts of making ceviche

  • Buy only the freshest ocean fish (see paragraph below). Fish don’t smell fishy, they smell like the ocean. The flesh is glossy, not opaque.
  • And please keep it cold. Put some ice on top of the bag before putting it in the fridge. Your goal is to use the fish the same day you buy it.
  • Don’t over-marinate the fish. Twenty minutes should be enough. Marinate for over an hour and your fish will fall apart; under 20 minutes and your fish might still taste raw.
  • Buy firm, white ocean fish, such as grouper, sole, flounder, and striped bass. Stay away from oily fish, such as mackerel, bluefish, tuna, sardines, etc.
  • Use the right ratio of acid-to-fish: 1/2 cup of lime/lemon juice for 1 lb of fish works perfectly.
  • De-seed and “de-juice” tomatoes. Otherwise, you’ll have a watery mess on the bottom of your plate.
  • Dice your veggies evenly, except for the onions. Slice onions as thin as possible for less harsh flavor and for presentation.
  • Only mix your marinated fish with your vegetables just before serving. This will keep the fish and vegetables from becoming mushy.

 

Make friends with your fishmonger 

It’s hard to find a fish store if you live outside a big town. There are certainly farmers markets that have fish sellers, but you’re not always able to coordinate your schedule with their schedule. But there’s a solution for that: I regularly shop at our local ShopRite. Our store has a wonderful seafood department. After years of buying seafood at their counter, I’ve become friends with the fishmonger there. Ever since, I can just walk up to the counter, and if he’s there, he’ll point me to his best “catch of the day” or ask me what I’m planning to cook and will give me advice on what fish or other seafood he would recommend. Thank you James!

 

A simple starter recipe

  • 1 lb firm white ocean fish, cut into small strips
  • 1/2 cup of lemon/lime juice (about 3 limes & 1 lemon)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small tomato, de-seeded and cubed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, de-seeded and cubed
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 habanero, de-seeded and cut into very tiny pieces (or use a milder pepper)
  • 1 tsp Maldon sea salt 
Ceviche (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Ceviche (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Put the fish in a bowl and marinate with the lime/lemon juice for 20 minutes in the fridge.  The flesh will turn opaque. 

Ceviche (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Toss with the rest of the ingredients and add the sea salt. 

Ceviche (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Serve in your favorite dish (you could use a martini glass to be fancy) and top with cilantro. Serve immediately.

 

My favorite drink with ceviche is an ice cold Dos Equis, a smooth Pilsner-style lager, which complements this dish beautifully. 

 

If you’re not comfortable with the whole “raw fish cooked in lime/lemon juice thing,” you could use cooked shrimp, cut into small pieces, and use the same cooking instructions as outlined above. And yes, it also works with raw shrimp, scallops, octopus, etc. The curing times will have to be adjusted (longer). I’d like to start here with a simple fish ceviche recipe that will turn out perfect every time, before going into more complex variations. 

 

A plug:  (I have no affiliation with this restaurant, but whenever I’m in Miami, my rental car automatically drives right down to this place without even letting me check-in to the hotel first).

So, if you happen to be in Miami, you absolutely have to go to Jaguar Latin-American Kitchen in Coconut Grove and try a Ceviche Spoon Sampler. Theoretically, you could share this as an appetizer. But don’t even think about it. You won’t. It’s that good.

 

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Ceviche (Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Ceviche - a Fancy, Expensive Seafood Dish Made Easy at Home?

Yes, that’s right!  The “made easy at home” part.  The other part, not so much. Ceviche is neither fancy nor expensive.  It’s all about the quality of the ingredients. Ceviche is a seafood dish in which the seafood is cooked (technically called “cured”) in citrus juices such as lemon and/or lime.  Ceviche is the perfect dish on a hot summer day.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Servings 4 as an appetizer, but in the ville it’s for two!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb firm white ocean fish, cut into small strips
  • 1/2 c lemon/lime juice (about 3 limes & 1 lemon)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small tomato, de-seeded and cubed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, de-seeded and cubed
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 c chopped cilantro
  • 1 habanero, de-seeded and cut into very tiny pieces (or use a milder pepper)
  • 1 tsp Maldon sea salt

Instructions
 

  • Put the fish in a bowl and marinate with the lime/lemon juice for 20 minutes in the fridge.  The flesh will turn opaque.
  • Toss with the rest of the ingredients and add the sea salt.
  • Serve in your favorite dish (you could use a martini glass to be fancy) and top with cilantro.
  • Serve immediately.

Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.

 

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1 Comment
  • Carlos Cuneo
    August 9, 2019

    Peruvian ceviche doesn’t have tomato, I also add to my ceviche some garlic and celery.