Ceviche is a very popular Latin and Caribbean dish. It comes in a thousand variations and every country or region in Latin America has their own version. It is typically made with raw fish cured in citrus juice and salt and mixed with spicy peppers. Some versions are made with shrimp, octupus or other seafood. I’ve had at least a dozen different kinds and it’s always delicious. Now that I’m here in Costa Rica, it was the perfect time to work out my own recipe, much like I did with this Al Pastor recipe.
History of Ceviche
Ceviche probably originated in Peru, perhaps as long as two thousand years ago. Similar dishes were made by marinading fish in acidic fruit juice or chicha, a fermented beverage popular among the Incas. The Spanish brought citrus fruit with them from Europe that thrived here and it is believed the natives just switched to using citrus at that time. The exact origin is unknown. No matter where it started, it has now found a home in every coastal community in Latin America. It even made it’s way to the United States in the 1980’s and has been growing in popularity ever since.
Eating Raw Fish
The unique thing about ceviche is that the fish is technically served raw. The citrus, chili, and salt marinade denatures the fish and makes it appear cooked. However, the acid marinade won’t kill parasites so it is important to use the right fish. If you are going to use raw fish, like I did, there are a few precautions that you need to take to make sure it is safe to eat. It is best to use fish that has been previously frozen as this will kill any parasites. The acid bath should kill off any other microorganisms. Don’t use fish that is covered in ice crystals or if the package is loose, these are signs that it could have been stored at unsafe temperatures.
You want to use a good white fish such as corvina (white sea bass), halibut, sole, or tilapia. Make sure you have a sharp knife when preparing the fish. You want to cut it into very small cubes and if your knife isn’t sharp it will just mangle the fish. Make sure to remove any skin and bones as well. Check here for more information on food safety and fish.
Fresh is Best!
Whatever you choose to add to your ceviche, make sure it is fresh. This dish is supposed to be made with simple and fresh ingredients. When it’s made right, it’s bright, spicy and delicious. For my recipe, I used fresh mandarin limes from our own tree, spicy aji amarillo chilies, and garlic for the marinade. I also mixed in some roma tomato, cilantro, onion and bell pepper. Ceviche can be served as an appetizer or a main dish and is often accompanied by tortillas chips or crackers. The salty, crunch is a perfect complement to the dish. I served mine with tostadas, black beans, radish, and mango to make it a satisfying main course.
For this recipe you will need…