In honor of International Ceviche Day on June 28, FultonFishMarket.com would like to celebrate ceviche as the raw fish phenomenon it is. A Latin American dish steeped in tradition, traditional ceviche recipes feature raw fish or shellfish marinated in citrus -- typically lime or lemon juice. The dish has achieved worldwide popularity, giving rise to a vast plethora of ceviche recipes reflecting regional variations (and modern adaptations) of this time-honored delicacy. How did ceviche originate, and how does one go about preparing ceviche at home? Discover the origins of the ceviche dish and how it gained its romantic allure. We’ve also included three ceviche recipes expressing this dish’s versatility. Enjoy!
The precise geographic origins of ceviche are both mysterious and hotly debated. Mythology runs rampant, with Incan emperors, Polynesian voyagers, and North African Moors all laying claim to the dish's invention, as legend has it. Whatever ceviche’s origin, modern Latin America prepares the dish with the full force of regional flair. (Ceviche is even modern-day Peru’s national dish!) Broadly speaking, Peruvian ceviche features citrus-chilli-marinated fish served with yam; Ecuadorian ceviche features lime-tomato marinated shrimp served with corn; Costa Rican ceviche features lime-vinegar marinated sea bass; and Mexican ceviche features a puree-style marinade with shrimp or tilapia served with tortillas.
In the US and internationally, seafood lovers enjoy ceviche and celebrate its unique characteristics: a unique flavor profile featuring fresh seafood, herbs, and vegetables, with flexible recipe options arising from regional differences in how ceviche is prepared. Moreover, for raw fish lovers, ceviche’s citrus-based flavor profile makes it an excellent alternative to the flavor profiles present in sushi recipes, for example. You’ll find options to experiment with in the recipes provided below.
Part of ceviche’s appeal is its versatility. You can tweak the marinade ingredients, toppings, and the type of fish itself to achieve the flavor effect you’re looking for. We’ve pulled together some pro tips to help you prepare ceviche without a hitch.
Selecting Your Fish: Oily vs. Flaky
Ceviche recipes often call for fish that is either “oily” or “flaky.” Here is your cheat sheet to tell the difference:
- Black Sea Bass
- Wild Striped Bass
- Blackfish (Tautog)
- Pink Snapper
- Golden Tilefish
Selecting Your Flavor Profile: a Word on Ceviche vs. Poke
A word on semantics (in case you need to label your fish dish for a summer potluck): Although ceviche and a dish called poke have many similarities -- both feature raw, marinated fish served with toppings -- they are not identical dishes. Unlike ceviche, which has its roots in Latin America, poke finds its roots in the Hawaiian coast. Unlike ceviche, which features citrus flavors, poke typically features Asian-influenced flavors and ingredients. Poke and ceviche also differ in their preparation. In its traditional form, poke is chopped raw fish served with soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onions. Meanwhile, since ceviche features a citrus base, the citrus denatures the fish proteins, creating an acid-cooked effect that transforms the texture and taste of the fish.
Once you’ve selected your flavor profile, select the type of fish or shellfish that will maximize the flavors. If it’s your first time making ceviche, you might stick to following a recipe until you get a feel for making the dish. The following guidelines will keep your fish fresh and flavorful:
- Storing raw seafood. Once your seafood delivery arrives, store it properly by keeping it refrigerated (at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower), preferably on ice. When refrigerated properly, seafood can keep for up to two days in the fridge.
- Cleaning raw seafood. When you are ready to begin marinating the ceviche, remove the seafood from the refrigerator and clean it thoroughly under running water. Keep your hands, preparation area, and utensils clean, and avoid cross-contaminating other surfaces.
- Marinating raw seafood. Marinate seafood in the fridge in a covered dish. Do not save the ceviche marinade for future use, since it is contaminated with raw seafood juices. Be sure to thoroughly wash the marinade containers, utensils, and all surfaces before reuse.
- Storing leftovers properly. Since seafood deteriorates more quickly than other foods, refrigerate leftovers within two hours of your meal. Seafood will keep for about two days in the fridge.
Ceviche is served chilled or at room temperature. When it comes to toppings, the world is your oyster. Top ceviche with fresh ingredients like citrus juice, avocado, red onion, tomato, or chillies to compliment your recipe.