Who among us doesn’t crave something cool and citrusy when the thermometer starts going crazy? Now how about something cool and citrusy that can be made in the AC and doesn’t even require a stove or grill?
For these reasons, as well as being delicioso, ceviche is the perfect summer dish. Unlike the burgers and hot dogs we pound all summer long, this is a dish you can eat by the pool…and still look good in your bathing suit the next day.
Ceviche is not a specific recipe, although there are some basic guidelines: fresh raw fish “cooked” in citrus juice, mixed with vegetables and spices. Combine and let sit a few hours or even over night.
Weirded out by eating fish that you didn’t put in a hot oven? Don’t be. If the fish is fresh the dish is safe. (Shop at an award-winning fishmonger hint hint.)
As we Texans tend to do with many Latin American dishes, many gabachos think ceviche is a Mexican dish. While ceviche is popular in Mexico, it was probably invented in Peru.
Ceviche recipes differ in ingredients and flavors throughout the different regions of Latin America.
Before we give you world tour of Ceviche, credit must be give to Chef Stephan Pyles for highlighting modern ceviche culture in Dallas. The Stephan Pyles Ceviche Bar is world class: exciting, exotic and fresh.
If the fish is fresh the dish is safe.
Ceviches of the Latin America:
Peru – The original! Key limes and bitter orange flavor this dish, and sweet potatoes and corn on the cob add some heft. Sorry to use the “F word”, but a popular Peruvian/Japanese fusion dish features sashimi cut fish marinated ceviche style for mere minutes.
Ecuador – Shrimp and a soupier tomato base. When making at home, remember for any shellfish, cook lightly 1-2 minutes before curing. For real authenticity, serve with…popcorn!
Chile – The addition of grapefruit, mint and cilantro makes this ceviche unique. Of course Chilean sea bass is the preferred fish.
Mexico – The variety we are most familiar with here in Texas, with lime, cilantro, tomato and avocado, serverd in a tostada bowl.
Guatemala – Often features black clams, Worcestershire sauce and hot peppers. Top of my list of ceviche dishes I’ve never tried.
Caribbean/Florida – Conch replaces fish with pequin or scotch bonnet peppers.
Even with all of these varieties, ceviches lend themselves to creativity. Add cucumber or avocado to cool it down. Mayo or sour cream to make it creamier. Use any white fish, or try tuna or salmon for a radically different flavor. Sub lobster or scallop for a modern twist. Serve over greens for a great salad. In martini glass for a standing cocktail party…in a big bowl with tortilla chips for a family-style casual dinner.
Jon Alexis is co-owner and fishmonger at TJ’s Seafood Market on Preston Road in North Dallas, and appreciates a good ceviche when he tastes one.