No stove, please. I’ll have ceviche.

Bah! Cooking… Who needs it? With the temps the 80s and high humidity all week, I just can’t get excited about turning on the oven when I come home from work. Raw-food diets suddenly begin to seem more attractive.

J and I try to maintain a Fish n' Film Friday dinner (it’s a great mnemonic device to keep fish in our diets), but the thought of turning on the stove last week was just… too… much. So then, our thoughts turned to tangy, spicy bits of ceviche .

Ceviche (sometimes spelled seviche) is simply thin-sliced (or cubed) raw fish that’s marinated in a strong acid, usually citrus-based, such as lemon, lime or grapefruit juice. The acid pickles or “cooks” the fish, turning its appearance from translucent to opaque.

Ceviche can be made with salmon or mackerel, of course, but those are fattier, more fully-flavored fish. I prefer the white fishes or ceviches made with shell-off shrimp and scallops. My recommendation? Go with snapper, grouper, sea bass, flounder, halibut, sole or mahi-mahi and doll it up with whatever tasty things you have in the fridge.

Chopped herbs or minced onions are a natural. Peruvian ceviche is very minimalist (and usually served with onions, sweet potatoes and corn), while Mexican ceviche is often mixed with a sort of pico de gallo of chilies, tomatoes and onions. I recently discovered it’s also delightful when mixed with chopped-up pickled onions or pickled ramps.

Basic Ceviche
1 pound white fish (sliced uniformly thin), shelled shrimp or scallops
1 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp olive oil

Optional extras
1 Tbsp chopped pickled ramps 1 small red onion, sliced very thin and rinsed in cold water
1 handful cherry tomatoes, halved
3-4 radishes, sliced very thin
1/4 red pepper, diced
1/4-1/2 jalapeño pepper, sliced very thin

  1. Combine the lime juice, salt and cilantro.
  2. Put the fish in a glass/pyrex dish or another non-reactive container.
  3. Pour the lime juice mixture over the fish for at least 10 minutes and up to two hours, stirring once or twice during this time to make sure all the surfaces are covered.
  4. After a while, the fish should look white and opaque. Drain off the lime juice and toss the fish with olive oil to stop the “cooking.” Season to taste. (You may wish to mix in the tiniest pinch of sugar if the mixture seems too tart.)
  5. Toss in your choice of optional extras, or simply serve as-is, over fresh greens or piled in a cocktail glass.

For my own personal tastes, I find that ceviche cries out for some tortillas (fresh or fried), a crisp salad of fresh greens or even avocados and a cold beer. Wheat beers like Hefeweizen seem to work very well, as do classic Mexican beers like Sol, Corona or Negra Modelo.


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