Ceviche, What is Ceviche?

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 What is Ceviche?

 
In case you have ever asked what is ceviche the answer is a seafood salad where  the seafood has been cooked in citrus acid instead of by heat.  

Ceviche
An elegant preparation

Lemon and lime juices are the most common citric acid juices used in making ceviche, but some sweet orange juice is a nice addition as well.

In traveling through Latin America my wife and I have discovered there is no one preparation of ceviche, rather it is a catch all term for many different preparations.   Ceviche is normally some sort of raw seafood that is cooked with lime juice.  We have had conch, fish (several types), shrimp, octopus and off theme, cheese ceviches.

As mentioned earlier lime, lemon and orange juices are used in various combinations as the cooking agent and an important warning is to bathe the raw seafood completely submerged in the juices while being cooled in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.  In addition to the seafood the combinations of vegetables and

a shrimp ceviche
a shrimp ceviche

herbs are endless but onion seems to be always be included and cilantro is often a part of the salad as well.

What else have we seen and you may encounter in the varios ceviches.  Picante?  Habaneros, Jalapeños, and birdseye hot peppers are often included and for those who can stand food that burns a bit it is a really nice offset to the strong sour base provided by the citrus juices.

Savory?  Fresh corn, olives, green beans, sweet pepper, celery and tomato are often included but it is easy to imagine cauliflower and broccoli being a part of the salad.  The important thing to focus on is the sour base of the salad, the key to making it an exceptional salad is to determine what you like to combine with sour to make it exceptional.  Some like salt, think margarita, some like sweet, does sweet and sour appeal to you?  Think picante, think ceviche!

 

 





If you have any suggestions, ideas and or questions please leave a comment below.

11 thoughts on “Ceviche, What is Ceviche?”

  1. In China there is something similar to that. We have cooking methods that doesn’t involve heat. However, instead of using citric acid, we use strong alcohol. We usually use that to soak the chicken and shrimp. We call the dish “drunken” like drunken chicken for example. Ceviche is so similar in terms of preparation methods. It sounds more delicious too because I always the alcoholic taste was too strong for me. I also can’t have my baby daughter try it. She might be I her diapers now but she’s already one year old. She can probably try the food you mentioned soon. For me, I personally like my food to be spicy. What kind of spicy ingredients do you think I can add to the soak?

    1. Hi Win, I also like Drunken chicken  but ceviche is more acidic in flavor.  I have seen many preparations of ceviche so it is like a salad each cook adds their own touches to it.  We use lime juice and a bit of orange juice sometimes too.  For  heat use your hot chili pepper of choice, but if you start with dried  peppers you should rehydrate them first.  Very hot peppers, onion, tomato and corn are the common ingredients in ceviche we prepare at home.   Make sure the seafood is covered by the citrus juice t least 3 hours and 4 is better,  The longer it is in the juice the richer the flavor.  To be clear you mix all the ingredients together in the juice and let their flavors intermingle the whole time.

  2. I spent a couple years in Brazil, and in Portuguese the word sorvete means ice cream. It’s pronunciation is really similar to ceviche. So when my wife and I were on vacation and the waiter offered us cervich, my mind automatically went to ice cream. You can imagine my disappointment when a cup fool of raw fish arrived.

    1. Funny comment!  I can imagine your initial disappointment, but in my case at least, it would have rapidly turned into the joy of a new found delicious salad!  Thanks for your comment!

  3. Very cool. I do like civiche, typically mexican style as a dip with tortilla chips… but hey, it’s a start, right? I had no idea that no heat was used in the cooking process and that this was the key differentiation. I always assumed the shrimp was grilled or boiled. I’ve never cooked this way before and I look forward to trying it!

  4. Great introduction to Ceviche. I did not know some of the history behind it which always makes a dish more interesting.

    In case I moved from the MidWest to California and that is where I first had it. Love it.

    You article has stirred my taste buds to have some more and although on the coast in Oregon have not seen it anywhere. Now, I will find it. Never give up!

    How long have you been an expert at this? Where is the best you’ve had? Where is the best in the States?

    1. Hi thank you for the nice comments.  I first tried ceviche in Chile and like you, fell in love with it immediately.  I have been fortunate enough to have traveled all over Latin America and have found many variations of the same dish. but I do not recall ever eating it in the USA.  I dated a woman from Peru and she taught me how to make her version about 20 years ago and I later taught my wife and we have been making it ever since.  It really is quite easy and being in Oregon you have access to a lot of fresh seafood.  I would not recommend using salmon as the fish or scallop or shrimp needs to be light in flavor so the acidity of the citrus juices shines through.    

  5. Robert,
    Thanks for this great piece on Ceviche, What is Ceviche?
    I 1st encountered Ceviche when I was living in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. I was at a beach bar and saw it on the menu with a short description.
    I already enjoyed sushi but Ceviche is really quite something different altogether.
    The wonderful combinations of the sweet/heat and tart citrus are like a perfect marriage.
    We were recently in Jamaica and they offered Ceviche with the Habanero’s and some other peppers mixed in as well. It was spicy hot but we both loved it!
    Thanks for the nice read, my best,
    CannaGary

    1. CannaGary, I could not agree more, it it the marriage of different flavors that makes ceviche great.  We love it with habaneros but for those who avoid heat use bell peppers instead   Robert

  6. Robert,
    Thanks for this great piece on Ceviche, What is Ceviche?
    I 1st encountered Ceviche when I was living in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. I was at a beach bar and saw it on the menu with a short description.
    I already enjoyed sushi but Ceviche is really quite something different altogether.
    The wonderful combinations of the sweet/heat and tart citrus are like a perfect marriage.
    We were recently in Jamaica and they offered Ceviche with the Habanero’s and some other peppers mixed in as well. It was spicy hot but we both loved it!
    Thanks for the nice read, my best,
    CannaGary

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