Ceviche is a South American specialty of marinated, raw seafood or fish. It is also spelled as cebiche, seviche, or sebiche. Its origin traces back around 2000 years ago when the Moche civilization flourished in northern Peru. They ferment their local banana passionfruit and use its juice as a marinade for fish. Fast forward in the 1980s, ceviche was brought to the United States. And although it has countless variations around the world, including the distinctive style in Mexico and Texas, it has become a popular dish in the Pacific coastal regions of Latin America. As a matter of fact, it is the national dish of Peru. Nevertheless, ceviche is traditionally an appetizer that provides a refreshing acidic flavor with a hint of brine and heat.
- Mexico is home to the world’s largest ceviche; the dish weighed 4.5 tons.
- The National Ceviche Day is celebrated every June 28th.
- Tiger’s milk or Leche de Tigre, a common ingredient of ceviche found on restaurant menus, is not the milk of a tiger. Rather, it is the Peruvian term which describes the citrus-based marinade of the fish.
Ceviche Buying Guide
The best ceviche starts with the best-quality fish. This is the only thing you need to focus on when buying the main ingredient for your ceviche. And, while you can check out our “fish” and “shrimp” page here at our Texas Real Food Promptuary to go over the details of each, below are also some additional tips to get started with:
- If you consider yourself a ceviche-beginner, opt for fluke, flounder, striped bass, or any other mild-flavored fish or shellfish.
- Find a reputable source and make friends with the fishmonger. Let them know that you’re making ceviche and listen to what they will offer.
- When you’re offered a fish, smell it. The fish should smell briny (ocean-like) but not fishy. You’ll also notice that it has a cleaner aroma.
- If you’re buying whole fish, choose the ones with clear and shiny eyes, along with bright red gills.
- Above all, be flexible. Your recipe will work just as well if you replace the fish with another that looks better.
Ceviche Production & Farming in Texas
While ceviches can be easily done at home, some Texans just like to get this treat as fast as possible. Thus, the state of Texas offers a lot of taverns, Peruvian, and Mexican restaurants that produce and serve wonderful ceviches. Not to mention that they offer ceviches that are made with combinations of different fish and shellfish. And, they have vegetarian and vegan ceviches too! Nevertheless, every city in the state offers unique varieties of ceviche. We highly suggest you check them out here at our Texas Real Food website.
Pesticides, additives, and chemicals:
Since store-bought ceviches are all sold fresh, it follows that they must be consumed right away. Thus, this product can be extremely expensive because it is highly perishable. But, it doesn’t need a lot of additives as its acidic marinade and salt already stands as a natural preservative. Nevertheless, as we scrutinized each brand, we only found one additive:
- Lactic Acid – This additive is found mainly in sour milk products like ceviches, yogurts, cottage cheese, etc. Thus, it is the one responsible for the sour flavor and the fermentative effects. Secondarily, it also acts as a mild preservative in foods.
Store-bought ceviches can only be purchased fresh. There are two packaging styles used for this dish. The one that looks like a salad is packaged in black plastic trays. The other one is a “stir & go” style that looks like cup noodles. It is packaged in a microwavable, BPA-free cup.
Ceviche is traditionally consumed as an appetizer that is prepared within the same day. It is mostly served cold, but non-traditional warm ceviche is also a must-try. Cold ceviche is the perfect dish during summer – think of getting an air conditioner for your mouth! It’s super easy to prepare, and you don’t even need to use the stovetop. Thus, since this dish is served raw, the quality and freshness of the fish is the key factor here. Always use sushi-grade fish if you don’t want to be disappointed. Moreover, ceviche pairs well on something crunchy – think of tostadas, plantain chips, tortilla chips, or even saltine crackers. It is even more perfect to be enjoyed alongside plenty of margaritas, while you’re sitting there on the patio! Plus, it also makes a light and balanced starter if you are grilling a steak. Another popular way to eat it is by wrapping it in fresh and crispy lettuce and serving it with rice and jicama slaw.
Since ceviche is marinated in acid, it should be kept in a non-reactive, airtight container. Then, it should be stored in the fridge, where it could last up to 2-3 days. It doesn’t freeze very well so it’s better to consume it as early as possible.
Make your own Ceviche, Texas-style!
While this recipe calls for fish, feel free to use shellfish and crustaceans as well. With the Texas Gulf Coast nearby, you’ll be sure to create so many ceviches using different proteins yet the same recipe. Enjoy!
- 3 lbs fresh Pacific whitefish, speckled trout, or snapper
- 3 ea limes, juiced
- 3 tomatoes, chopped
- 3-4 jalapeño peppers, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Kosher salt, as needed to taste
- Ground black pepper, as needed to taste
- 3 ea limes
- Slice the fish into ½-inch cubes. Toss them into a bowl with the juice of 3 limes, and marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours.
- Then, remove the liquid. Add in the remaining ingredients except the limes. Gently mix it, making sure that the fish isn’t breaking apart.
- Transfer it into a serving plate, and squeeze fresh limes on top. If desired, serve with chilled avocados or fresh tostadas.