I had the great fortune during my career to work with several cooks from Peru. Ceviche is considered a national dish and passion among Peruvians and there were weeks when we ate ceviche nearly every day. It makes a wonderful summer dish because you don’t cook the fish and therefore don’t heat up the kitchen. I have been thinking a lot about it lately because limes seem to be everywhere and there is an abundance of great quality fish too. One of the things I love about ceviche is that nearly any impeccably fresh seafood can be used and some of the best ceviche I have had has been made with a wonderful medley of seafood providing great flavor, colors and different textures. The short definition of ceviche is seafood marinated in lime juice, but that is only the beginning.
Naturally, almost any fresh seafood can be marinated successfully this way. The Peruvians that I knew usually seasoned it with lime juice, fresh grated ginger, jalapeño a little salt and pepper. They always served it with sliced red onion marinated in much the same way and some cilantro always found its way in there too. This was always served with boiled sweet potatoes, corn and copious amounts of salsa picante. Man those were good times…unbelievable hard work and great food…
- Juice of 10 limes (½ for the seafood and ½ for the onions)
- 1 lb seafood (scallops, shrimp, white fish of any kind, mahi mahi, tuna, almost anything goes…fresh, fresh, fresh)
- 1 jalapeño seeded and diced (more if you like, or another kind of pepper…try thai chili peppers or habañeros)
- 1Tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 ripe mango diced
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 large red onion thinly sliced
- More salt and pepper to taste
Juice the limes. You will need at least 4 ounces for the fish to marinate properly and about the same amount for the onion. Dice the fish into ½ inch pieces (more or less) and mix the lime juice, seafood, chili pepper of your choice, ginger, salt, and mango in a glass or ceramic bowl and let marinate for about ½ an hour tossing several times during that period. At the same time toss the onions with the remaining lime juice and season with salt and pepper as you desire. The fish should be opaque and pleasantly firm with a delightfully refreshing flavor. Just before you serve it toss in the cilantro leaves and serve in a cocktail glass as an appetizer or over lettuce leaves for a cool lunch or dinner. As I mentioned, the traditional accompaniments are boiled sweet potato and sweet corn, simply a great summer meal.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with other herbs, peppers, different combinations of seafood, a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil or fruits (the mango is not a Peruvian tradition, but is very good). Most of all try this great dish. Enjoy!