It has been said, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and it didn’t take South America’s earliest Peruvians and Ecuadorians long to realize if their abundance of fish was combined with a good amount of nearby lime juice, it changed the character of the fish flesh entirely. Over the years, they would add other flavoring accents as they experimented. Basically, ceviche, also spelled cebiche, or seviche, is a seafood salad or a marination of fish or seafood in citrus juice with some salad-type ingredients added, then the mixture is marinated for a short time.
Most any fish filet or seafood makes good ceviche. ONLY make ceviche from the freshest fish, not even supermarket fish. Catch it yourself, or know the fisherman who did.
WARNING: People enjoy ceviche, because it’s a spicy-tasting “salad” of almost raw seafood and other accenting items. HOWEVER, though marinating in lime makes the fish look cooked, this process does not kill bacteria or parasites. Only heat and real cooking can do this. Thus, it is important to serve the ceviche after a short marination and consume all of it that day. No leftovers!
Early ceviche versions country-to-country:
Fish, key lime or bitter orange, onions, chilis, salt and pepper.
Shrimp with tomato sauce, lime juice
Fish, lime, grapefruit, garlic, chili peppers, mint, cilantro
Fish and seafood, lime, onion, chili peppers, avocado, cilantro, olives, tomato, salt and pepper
Fish, seafood, lime, onion, yerba buena, Worcestershire Sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper
Fish, lime, onion, cilantro, chili peppers, salt and pepper
Fish and seafood, lemon juice, onion, celery, habanero pepper, sea salt
Fish, lime juice, onion, green pepper, habanero pepper, allspice, salt and pepper
Bahamas and South Florida
Fish, seafood or conch, lime juice, onion, celery, bell pepper, Scotch bonnet pepper, salt and pepper
SELECTION & STORAGE
Use only fresh lime juice, though part of this can be mixed with bitter orange or lemon. Marinate, in the refrigerator, with other ingredients (see list below) no longer than 3 hours. Consume the whole batch the day it is made.
SEARCH AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
We looked at how different cultures south of us first made their ceviches. Here, in the U.S. and over the years, ceviche cooks, everywhere, are apt to add any of the following to fresh fish or seafpood and lime juice:
- Bell pepper
- Chili pepper
- Coconut milk
- Ginger root
- Green onion
- Hearts of palm
- Hot sauce
- Lemon balm
- Purple sorrel leaf
- Sesame seed/oil
- Sorrel flower
- Tiger milk *
Below are foodsites with ceviche recipes:
* includes recipe for Tiger Milk.