All You Need To Know About Ceviche
Ceviche has been declared a part of Peru’s national heritage but nowadays you can find many versions of it across the world.
What is it really about?
Ceviche, which is often spelled ceviche or cebiche, depending on which part of South America it comes from, is basically raw fish and seafood marinated in citrus juice, mainly lime and lemon juice. The acid in the citrus juice coagulates the proteins in the fish, effectively cooking it, so it’s not heated, and it’s served cold or at room temperature.
Many different fish and shellfish can be used in preparing it. Snapper, sea bass, halibut, mah-mahi and tilapia are popular fish for making ceviche. Other seafood components can include shrimp, scallops, squid and octopus.
It can be eaten as a first course or main dish, depending on what is served with it. It seems as though there are as many varieties of ceviche as people who eat it.
Where does it come from?
Ceviche might have originated among the Moche, a coastal civilisation that began to flourish in the area of current-day northern Peru nearly 2000 years ago. The Moche apparently used the fermented juice from the local banana passionfruit. Recent investigations further show, during the Inca Empire, fish were marinated with the use of chicha, an Andean fermented beverage.
Different chronicles also report, along the Peruvian coast prior to the arrival of Europeans, fish was consumed with salt and “ají” Furthermore, this theory proposes the natives simply switched to the citrus fruits brought by the Spanish colonists, but the main concepts of the plate remain essentially the same.
How to make it:
Related: 5 Peruvian Dishes You Need To Try
- ½ red onion, finely chopped
- 250g skinless and boneless sea bass or sea bream fillets
- ½ tsp salt, plus extra to season
- Juice of 4 limes
- Juice of ½ orange
- 1 red chilli, shredded, or 1tsp aji amarillo paste
- Small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
*Ají amarillo is a fruity pepper really popular in Peruvian cooking. They’re difficult to track down in other countries, but you can order them dried online, or find them frozen in South American shops
- Put the chopped onion into iced water and soak for 5 minutes, then drain well.
- Cut the fish into 1½ – 2cm cubes (dicing, rather than slicing, will ensure a good distribution of raw fish and fish cooked on the outside), rub with the ½ tsp salt. Leave for a minute. Add the citrus juices and the chilli and leave to marinate for 10 minutes. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. After marinating for 10 to 15 minutes, the fish’s exterior will start to firm up, while the center will remain tender and moist—this is medium-rare. Let it sit for 15 to 25 minutes for medium, and 25 minutes for medium-well.
- Divide the fish and marinade between 2 bowls, scatter with coriander, and serve immediately.