By Marnely Rodriguez-Murray
If you’ve ever had Ceviche, you know that the variations are so many that you could try one ever day of the month and not repeat the same recipe. Most Latin American countries have their unique creations, but where did this dish originate? Historians agree that there are many varieties, and that it originated in Peru.
Accepted by the Royal Spanish Academy, it can be spelled cebiche, ceviche, or seviche. This also relates to how different countries make ceviche, as well as spell it. Predominantly found in Peru, Ecuador, Chile and even the Philippines, Ceviche has become a staple in Central American Cuisine and slowly has seeped into North American culture. Below we’ll discover the variations normally used in this three Central American countries.
Peru: Known for their tart and spicy ceviche preparations, Peruvians normally accompany the raw fish with a side of pickled vegetables, onions for example are a good side. The crunch added by the pickled side bring a much needed texture to the dish, allowing the fish to still shine with it’s freshness.
Ecuador: One of the most notable additions in this version, is choclo or Andes corn kernels. Fresh corn is a welcome ingredient that brings added sweetness to the raw fish, as well as texture.
Chile: The one added ingredient that distinguishes this ceviche from any other is the use of a signature Chilean spice blend. It’ called Merken and is made from smoked goat’s horn peppers, coriander seeds, cumin, and other spice. This added spice adds heat and smoky flavor to the fish, without needing to cook it!
Tips for making Ceviche:
• Use the freshest fish available and remember you can also use fresh octopus, scallop and shrimp as variations in your ceviche. Talk to your fishmonger and see what he recommends.
• Buy seasonal citrus to add that acid that will help to slowly cook your raw fish. Limes are traditional, but you can use Meyer Lemons, Grapefruit, Cara Cara Oranges, or Tangerines. Each brings a different level of acidity, so you will have to adjust accordingly.
• Toss together only a few hours ahead of time, and on occasion, even a few minutes before is fine. Depending on the cut of the fish, as well as the fish itself, the preparation time varies.
• Watch the salt! Salt will only draw moisture out of your fish and render it rubbery, so add the salt tableside or allow the guests to season to their liking.
Sea Scallop Ceviche Recipe
Recipe by Chef Ric Orlando at the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
1 pound raw sea scallops, sliced into coins
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced super fine
1 fresh jalapeno chile, sliced thinly
1 medium each: red, yellow or green pepper, de-ribbed and finely diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 ripe tomato, diced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ bunch cilantro with stems, chopped
1. Place the sliced scallops in a cool bowl and add lime juice and a little salt.
2. Allow to marinate for 30 to 40 minutes.
3. Add everything else to the bowl and toss well.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for as little as 4 hours and as long as 24 hours before serving.
5. Serve over greens with lime wedges.
Whether you’re visiting Peru, Ecuador, Chile or even in your hometown, order the ceviche and ask what makes it local to the area. You might be surprised with a visit around the kitchen, a special taste of their spices, or more! And since Peru is the country of origin, below are a few cevicherias that you must visit while in Lima:
Pez Amigo (Av. La Paz 1640, Miraflores; 445-9783)
Punto Azul (Calle San Martin 595, Miraflores; 445-8078)
La Mar (Av. La Mar 770, Miraflores; 421-3365)
Pescados Capitales (La Mar 1337, Miraflores; 421-8808)
The consumption of raw or undercooked seafood or shellfish may increase your risk of food borne illness. Be sure to obtain your fresh fish from a trusted source.