With the first week of summer now under our belts it seems like a good time to loosen up and get to cooking up some light and easy to prepare summertime eats. And wouldn’t you know, today just happens to be National Ceviche Day! But before we march ourselves to our local fishmonger and select a glisteningly fresh filet of snapper, bass, haddock, yellowtail, mackerel; or even shrimp, let’s take a deep dive into the vast world of this dish so vibrant, fresh, cool and zesty, with such endless preparation variations that it takes on its own expression of summertime.
This ancient seafood salad dish, said to be of Peruvian origin, checks off all the contemporary food focus boxes of low carb, gluten free and paleo. Ceviche; one of Latin America’s food staples for centuries, has become sophisticated for 21st century tastes. The concept is fresh fish cured in citrus and then gilded with myriad fresh vegetables and garnishes. Mexico and the Southern Hemisphere countries of South and Central America have adopted their own regional preparations using tropical, indigenous ingredients. In Peru, ceviche is served with a disc of corn on the cob and chilled sweet potatoes. In Mexico, sliced onions, diced tomatoes and crisp tortillas are the accompaniment. Ecuador’s ceviche tradition includes serving a side of corn nuts or popcorn with the dish. Ceviche is not only made with fin fish, but shrimp, octopus and squid often take a turn in the citrus bath, giving the broth a decidedly different shellfish flavor. The liquid remaining in the serving bowl after ceviche has been enjoyed is known as “Tiger Milk” and is said to be a tonic for a variety of ailments.
Creating a ceviche dish builds on several basic components: fresh,FRESH fish, usually a mild white fish, citrus, a crunchy vegetable, a hint of herb, and a bit of heat. From there the possibilities are limitless as the simplicity of ceviche becomes more intricate with the addition of extra vegetables and spices. An “adult” ceviche experience can be had by adding a finishing splash of a spirit such as tequila, mezcal or pisco just before serving.
Photo Credit: Kits Coastal
Here’s a favorite ceviche recipe from the RCS kitchen:
2 pounds white fish (red snapper, grouper, halibut or any fresh white fish)
¼ cup diced red onion
½ cup seeded and diced cucumber
¼ cup diced jicama
¼ cup seeded diced tomato
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons lime zest
1 jalapeno pepper, cut in half, seeded
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the fish in medium dice and place in a mixing bowl. Add fresh lime juice, zest and jalapeno pepper; marinate 30-40minutes. Slice the jalapeno and add it back into the fish marinade.
Add cucumber, onion, jicama, tomato and cilantro, mix well. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with sliced avocado, shaved radishes and sea salt sweet potato chips or plantain chips.
Buen provecho and happy National Ceviche Day!
Chef Mary Howley is the culinary consultant to the RCS Hospitality Group and a former Executive Chef of her own catering company, several country clubs, and fine dining restaurants. She studied throughout Europe and honed her skills on the East Coast working with a myriad of culinary styles. She had the honor to serve as research and development chef for Food Unlimited, and held the position of Pastry Chef in two James Beard Dinner Events.