“Sashimi and crudo may be the John and Paul of the raw seafood band—but ceviche is the George.” – Kenji Lopez, The Food Lab
If you don’t understand what that quote is conveying, then you have some research to do about at least one of two very popular things.
If you are aware of the wondrous fish dish called ceviche, then you may know that it is ubiquitous in South America, with its deepest roots in Perú, where it is eaten everywhere—from crappy street carts to luxury restaurants—with the same insane devotion as burgers in the States. There, quality and freshness are paramount: it must be same-day caught and served only for lunch, because by dinner the fish wouldn’t be fresh enough. It’s crazy good. And since the South Pacific is crazy far away, Stock & Barrel offers our own recipe for making the traditional dish—as fresh as you can manage—right in your own backyard.
Try it as soon as the warm days arrive, under the sun, accompanied by a very cold pilsner or a citrusy Sauvignon blanc, and you’ll be hooked—just like me.
Experiment with the proportions depending on the intensity of the ingredients and your own taste, and use this recipe just as a guide. You can do infinite versions of ceviche. Play and be creative! First, learn the basic structure of the five components:
raw fish + citrus and spice marinade + oniony veggies + add-on ingredients + sides
• 1 pound skinless fish fillets, diced in cubes or strips .5 to 1.5 inches. You can use yellowtail, sole, flounder, tilapia, mahi-mahi, halibut, sea bass, snapper, sea bream, stone bass, rock bass, tuna, trout or salmon.
• 1 tablespoon approximately of each desired marinade seasoning, finely chopped or grated. Example: garlic, hot peppers, ginger, chives.
• 1/2 cup of citrus juice. Example: limes, lemons, sour oranges.
Oranges, mandarins, and grapefruits have a lower acidity, so if using, combine with limes or lemons.
• 1 cup oniony veggies (onions, shallots, or scallions), finely chopped in thin strips or little cubes.
• 1/2 to 1/4 cup of each desired add-on ingredient, chopped in small and regular pieces. Example: cilantro, mint, red bell pepper, avocado, cucumber, mango, pineapple.
• Salt and pepper to taste.
• 4 servings of each desired side. Example: corn on the cob, toast, tortillas, slices of boiled sweet potatoes, plantain chips.
• In a bowl, gently stir the fish with the citrus juice, marinade seasonings, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
• Here comes the magic: wait for as little as one minute to 15 minutes, or even several hours to overnight (longer than 15-minutes marinades should be done in the fridge). The wait time depends on the initial texture of the fish, the desired texture, and the style of ceviche you like. Firm-fleshed fish like salmon needs longer marinades (more than 10 minutes), while tilapia or sole is perfect with less than five. Peruvian-style ceviche, my favorite (pictured left) is served after a very brief marinade (just a couple minutes), while some Mexican- and Chilean-style ceviche requires several hours.
• Just before serving, stir in the oniony ingredients and add-ons.
• To serve, form a little mountain of ceviche in a bowl, pouring in some of the juices. Garnish with some pieces or slices of the same ingredients you used.
• Put the side (or sides) in the same bowl, or in separates bowls on the table, to share.
*To eat raw fish safely: work with strict hygiene, and don’t give raw fish to kids, pregnant woman, elderly, or immune-depressed people.