Few things are know to satisfy the tummy in such a unique manner as ceviche. Some might call it an acquired taste, but I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t enjoy this refreshing & tangy preparation of fish fillets with such a wide range of additions I can guarantee you’ll never get bored of trying new combinations every. single. time.
This delicious seafood dish is popular in the coastal regions of Latin American & the Caribbean…which basically translates into it being the ultimate beachside delicacy. Typically made from fresh raw fish fillets cured in lemon (or lime) juices, there are a number of other colorful additions that make each different kind unique. Most often associated as being from Peru, ceviche nowadays is a popular international dish prepared in a variety of ways throughout the Americas: Peruvian ceviche with onions & chili peppers, Ecuadorian ceviche made of shrimp, lemon, & tomato sauce, and Mexican ceviche with its corn tortilla nachos. In most parts of Central America, however, it’s served in a glass cup in cocktail form with soda crackers and often garnished with Worchestershire sauce & hot sauce!
It’s actually so hard to describe ceviche to someone who has no concept of what it is…mainly because there’s seriously no single one way to prepare it. The key element is always the lemon-cured fish (or for that matter any other seafood that can be used: shrimp, octopus, calamari, conch…) and the additions can range from the basic onion, tomato, & chili pepper trio to the more exotic choice like mango, jalapenos, corn or avocado…yum!
I was delighted to entertain German friends this weekend and present them with my own version of our Honduran ceviche cocktail. Ideally very healthy, I was a bit scared of what my dear German pals might think of the seemingly untrustworthy preparation. Aside from contaminants, raw seafood can be the vector for many a bacterial bunch! But to my surprise, they were completely delighted by the refreshing Sunday afternoon cocktail I served with toasties and they even took the recipe back home for their own experimental purposes!
For the Ceviche
- 4 medium-sized tilapia fillets (or 500g of any other white fish variety)
- 2 large white onions, finely chopped
- 3 large bell peppers (orange, green, red or yellow), finely chopped
- 3 large tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- Juice of 4 large limes, or lemons
- 1 cup (180ml) of white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1/2 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
- Salt & pepper
Start by washing the fish fillets and patting them dry. Dice into small cubes of about 1 cm, trying to keep them uniform in size, for both aesthetic purposes and curing time purposes. Set in a clean, dry airtight container and add enough lemon juice to cover entirely – usually four large limes do the trick. I like to microwave my lemons/limes for 20 seconds as it’s believed to help when juicing! Pat the fish bits down with the lemon juice and seal the container. Refrigerate for a minimum of 8 hours, maximum unknown as we never ever wait so long! Shake the container ever so often, making sure the lemon juices get through to all the fish bits, guaranteeing the complete curing of the fish fillets and leaving no room for contaminants!
The other part of the recipe calls for the marinated additions that can also be prepared beforehand, but I recommend chopping the additions closer to the serving time so the vegetables can remain as crunchy as can be! Of course, the marination works best two to three hours before serving time, so try to plan accordingly.
In a large bowl that you can also seal shut afterwards, add the finely (and evenly, please!) chopped vegetables. Here you can add the extra additions you wish! I’ve even seen sweet potatoes added at this point…like I said, the sky’s the limit if you wanna believe so!
Add the vinegar, olive oil, parsley, cumin, and salt & pepper to taste (without overdoing it as this is only the first phase of marination). Combine well and let rest for about two hours in the fridge.
“The time has come!” the walrus said! And so we gather our two bowls and join them into the magical union we have been waiting for. Combine the cured fish bits into the marinated vegetables and give the mix a great stir to merge them evenly. Add salt & pepper to taste. Serve in small cocktail cups with soda crackers, and be sure to set your table with hot sauce, extra lime wedges, ketchup, and Worchesterchire sauce!