Our own Cevicheria

2016-08-27 05.50.56

More Mexican food in our house tonight. Ceviche (pronounced Say-be’-chae). So what exactly is Ceviche? It is fish “cooked” in citrus. Traditionally it is made with a firm white fish, halibut, turbot, cod, for example. You can also use fresh sushi grade tuna, mackeral, red snapper or sea bass. If these fish are used, they are not cooked first as they will cook in the citrus juice. However, it can also be made with shrimp, scallops, lobster, octopus, or squid . These fish and crustaceans are a little too dense to cook in citrus alone. For these I would recommend using pre-cooked peeled shrimp (salad size, 51-100) or blanch the fish first by just dipping it briefly in boiling water.

The dish on the left is Traditional Mexican Ceviche and on the right is Traditional Peruvian Ceviche.

Ceviche is very much a regional dish. Today I will give you two recipes with my adaptations, though depending where you are in the Latin Americas, from Mexico to the tip of South America, you will find some variation; some use more vegetables, some use different chilis, different fish, etc.

Paula’s Traditional (almost) Mexican Ceviche:

  • 1 1/2# white fish (today I used halibut) cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1C total freshly squeezed lime & lemon juice, approx. 1/2 and 1/2 is best
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and dice the fleshy part
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1/4C red onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced or pressed
  • 1 serrano chili, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 handful Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped.

Optional: 1/2 mango, finely diced and/or 6 -10 green, pimento stuffed olives, sliced. If the mango is added, then add the juice of 1 navel orange or 2 clementines as well. It will highlight the sweetness of the mango without lessening the intensity of the other spices.

Squeeze the lemons and limes and put the juice into a sealable plastic container. Add onions, tomatoes, chili pepper and fish and diced mango if using. Make sure the fish is pushed down into the liquid and is covered. If you leave it on the counter, it will “cook” in about a 1/2 hour-it will take 2 to 3 hours in the fridge.

Drain the liquid from the fish and now squeeze one (1) fresh lemon, one (1) fresh lime, and the juice of either one navel orange or 2 clementines (if using) and pour over the fish. Dice up one avocado and add it as well and finely chop the cilantro. Mix it all together. It might need a little salt to temper the citrus. If so, add just 1/2 tsp. of salt, and stir. If you want it even spicer, you can add 1/2 tsp. of dried chili flakes at this point. The citrus will bring out the heat though, so be careful.

NOTE: The avocado can be added initially with the fish, but the acid from the juices will soften it quite a bit. It will taste just as good, but the marinade will get a little cloudy.

Serve with tortilla chips (we prefer  Scoops) or tortilla strips.

Paula’s Traditional (almost) Peruvian Ceviche

  • 1 1/2# firm white fish
  • 1/4C red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4-1/2C diced yellow sweet pepper (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 serrano chili, seeds removed and finely diced
  • 2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated (I use a hasp and also grate the garlic on it)
  • 1 serrano chili, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 to 2 tbsp. Aji Amarillo (Peruvian yellow chili paste – available at Latin stores, or on Amazon.com) This pepper paste is very spicy. Start with 1 rounded tbsp. and add to your own taste.
  • 1 C mixed fresh lime and lemon juice
  • 1 Handful of fresh Cilantro, finely chopped.

In a plastic sealable container mix together the citrus juice, red onion, garlic, ginger, chili and Aji Amarillo Chili Paste. Stir until the paste is blended fully. Add the fish and make sure it is fully covered by the liquid. Again, on the counter, it will take about 30 minutes to cook and about 3 hours in the fridge. Add the fresh cilantro and stir right before serving.

Traditionally the Peruvian Ceviche is served with roasted sweet potato slices, thin strips of red sweet pepper, and white steamed rice (I prefer Jasmine rice), or, you can serve it as we are, with tortilla scoops or strips. Make sure though to include a fair amount of the marinade which is known as Leche de Tigre, or Milk of the Tiger.

The recipe for Mexican Ceviche is again, one my mother learned from watching our maids cook. The Peruvian Ceviche is one I “stole” from the menu at the Cevicheria at the Mayan Palace in Riviera Maya, Mexico. It was right by the pool and Mike and I ate there for lunch, 3 times in one week, trying at least 1 different Ceviche each day. I then, with my mediocre Spanish, spoke and played charades to get ingredient lists for the different types they made. Getting the name of the Aji Amarillo was the best part of the charades as the chef spoke to the waiter who attempted to translate for me. Aji is nothing more than a specific type of chili pepper, yellow in color and very flavorful but they didn’t know how to explain it. Eventually the chef went and got a jar and handed it to me. Ahi esta! (There it is!)

NOTE #2: After years of squeezing the limes and lemons by hand, I broke down and bought an electric juicer. We have a Cuisinart ($29.95 at Amazon) though I believe we purchased ours at Bed, Bath and Beyond with a 20% coupon.  It is so worth having a juicer – it gets all the juice and leaves the pulp and seeds behind. It comes apart for easy clean up as well.

NOTE #3:  You can impress your friends by serving bite-sized portions on self-standing Asian soup spoons as an appetizer for any dinner. Light, refreshing and great flavors. And if your company are not adventurous eaters, this is the perfect time to make it with the salad sized pre-cooked shrimp. It becomes 1 shrimp per spoonful.


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