Ceviche is a famous Latin American dish of fresh fish or other seafood “cooked” in lime juice and mixed with flavors such as chili, coriander/coriander, and onion. Also called ceviche, ceviche, or ceviche, this quick and easy recipe is perfect for a quick snack on a hot summer’s day or an elegant appetizer.
The only thing that sets this ceviche recipe apart is that it’s not too sour. South American limes are not as sour as here!
Originally from the west coast of South America, ceviche is now served in a variety of forms, from Mexico to Peru. It is also a dish that has been adopted by fine dining restaurants around the world. A light seafood appetizer that is ideal before a more elegantly presented main course.
In addition, restaurants can easily charge a small fee for this kind of dish, which is not so easy to make at home.
I’m here to dispel this myth! Ceviche is very easy to make as long as you can get your hands on some shiny, fresh fish.
Raw fish + lime juice + 5 minutes = Ceviche!
The essence of ceviche is simple: raw fish mixed with lime juice and then left for five minutes to ‘cook’ the fish in acid, leaving it white on the outside and raw on the inside.
Here’s a comparison after flipping the fish in lime (the fish is still translucent). After 5 minutes it will be cooked and white.
It MUST be sashimi-grade fish
The only fish used in ceviche is sashimi-grade fish, which is safe to eat raw. That usually means it’s been frozen and not thawed. Not fresh enough to be eaten raw. You should check with your fishmonger to make sure it is “sashimi grade” (usually conveniently labeled) and that it can be eaten raw. The thought of eating this kind of fish may make some people uneasy, but recent Australian food safety standards are such that there is nothing to worry about. I’ve been eating raw fish at the store since raw fish became available in the late 90’s and have never had a problem. Any freshly caught fish can be used. All sashimi quality. When I was a kid, before sashimi became mainstream in Australia, my parents took me fishing every weekend to catch fresh fish for sushi.
Best fish for ceviche
There is no one way to prepare ceviche and no one “best fish” for ceviche. This is because it depends on the type of seafood available in different regions. There are many options, so I’ll list the most common ones.
- Kingfish (pictured above) – prized for it’s soft white flesh, very popular in Japanese sashimi (shows how good this fish is!). This is one of 3 common sashimi-grade fish sold at Australian fish shops (along with salmon and tuna) and a popular choice of fine dining establishments;
- Sea bass – traditionally used for Peruvian Ceviche and easily found in the UK/US;
- Tuna – popular in Mexico (along with prawn/shrimp);
- Mackerel – also popular in Mexico;
- Prawns / shrimp – traditional in Ecuador and popular in Mexico, often with a dash of tomato juice;
- Halibut or Patagonian tooth fish – Chile;
- Salmon – though not traditional (because white fish is traditional), salmon is excellent made into ceviche. Easy to find in Australia;
- Bream – many species, depending where in the world and widely used;
- Swordfish – if you are lucky enough to get it(!), this is used in some Latin American countries.
- Trevally – Although we haven’t seen it mentioned, raw trevally is beautifully soft-textured and would make a fine ceviche. Available at some good fishmongers here in Australia; and
- Cod and mahi mahi – Popular options in America.
FISH THAT IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CEVICHE
- Limes – the essential ingredient that “cooks” the fish;
- Extra virgin olive oil – just a touch will take the sharp, sour edge off the otherwise totally sour dish. It’s not strictly traditional to include this, but it’s important to know that limes in Latin America – certainly in Mexico – are often not as sour as those in most Western countries, including Australia and the US. Without oil, I find Ceviche is too sour. Even in Mexico, I found most Ceviches there to be too sour! (*She ducks as Mexicans throw rotten tomatoes at her!*)
- Avocado and jalapeño – these add ins are traditional in some versions of Ceviche found in Mexico. Creamy pieces of avocado are a sensational pairing with the delicate pieces of fish!
- Coriander/cilantro – essential fresh herb flavouring for ceviche. Coriander haters – sub with chives;
- Red onion – very finely sliced so it flops and melds with the fish;
- Garlic – crushed using a garlic press so it’s minced finely and “juicy”. We just use 1 small clove – it shouldn’t be overly garlicky; and
- Tomato – included in some traditional versions, I really love just adding a bit (not too much) for beautiful pops of colour and fresh juiciness.
How to make Ceviche
The making part is very simple, but I’ve found the key is the order in which ingredients are added – ie what is marinated with the fish, and what is best added later.
- Fish – shred the fish.
- Cubes – Then cut into small cubes.
- Mix fish with tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, paprika and lime juice. Do not add salt (this will draw moisture out of the fish), avocado (these will splatter if you flip), or olive oil (this will dilute the sourness of the lime juice and slow it down too much).
- “Cook” 5 minutes – mix gently and let stand 5 minutes for lime to “cook” fish.
- Add olive oil, avocado, fresh herbs and salt and mix well.
- Get it out now.
Despite what other recipes say, don’t rush to have the ceviche on the table in 10 seconds. Otherwise the lime will overcook the fish. Ceviche is best eaten raw, but it’s still delicious after 20 minutes. After about 30 minutes the fish will be a little too hard for my liking (literally fully cooked, but not the best texture as it’s not oven cooked).
Note: In some countries (such as Peru), ceviche is traditionally ‘cooked’ in lime for several hours, but larger pieces of fish are used. I like to use small pieces – for better texture and easier eating.
There is more than one way to make ceviche.
In Mexico and other parts of Central America, it is often served in small “cups” or cocktail-style bowls with scoops of corn chips or crunchy tortillas/tostadas, as pictured above. Yes, use this idea to make an appetizer platter to pass around the gathering, as shown in the photo below right.
In Peru, corn is placed on a stalk and sliced boiled sweet potatoes are sometimes eaten with rice. In other countries it is served with plantain chips or rice. An easy way is to serve one at a time in small bowls with crostini (small toasted breads) like the one pictured below.
How to serve Ceviche
Just like there’s more than one way to make ceviche, there are many ways to serve it.
In Mexico and other parts of Central America, it’s often served in small “cups” or dishes , cocktail style, with corn chips or crispy tortillas/tostadas for scooping, as pictured above. I like using this idea to make platters of canapés to pass around at gatherings, as pictured on the below right.
In Peru it’s served as a meal with corn on the cob, slices of cooked sweet potato and sometimes with rice. In other countries it comes with plantain chips or rice.
In fine dining restaurants, it’s served in all sorts of fancy ways. One easy way is to spoon individual portions into a small dish with a side of crostini on the side (toasted small bread),
Of course, you can just by-pass all of that and just devour it straight out of the bowl with a spoon, which is exactly what I did.
I really hope you give this a go one day. Especially those of you who have previously been turned off by overly sour ceviche in the past.