I must admit that before moving to the US, I didn’t really know much about ceviche! I clearly remember the first time that I tried it though. I was having lunch at a little Peruvian restaurant in Miami with some work colleagues. I had no idea about Peruvian cuisine, nor could I decipher the menu, which was all in Spanish! So I asked my friends to recommend something, and they suggested the ceviche.
From that moment on I was hooked. It’s the perfect dish for warm, sunny days… light, refreshing and zesty. Not to mention healthy too!
What I later discovered, is that ceviche (which is essentially fish marinated in citrus juice) is quite easy to prepare at home.
Our version has been adapted from a Bobby Flay recipe (see original here) with a few tweaks by my husband.
Total time required:
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 2 hours
What you’ll need:
- 1 pound fresh flaky white fish (grouper, pink snapper, tilapia, halibut) skinned and cut in half lengthwise, then cut into small dice
- 12 large cooked shrimp, shelled, de-veined and halved
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 – 1/3 (to taste) cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
- 1 or 2 serrano chiles, finely diced depending on how spicy you like
- Cold-smoked grape tomatoes (recipe follows)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- Lime zest, for garnish
- 1/4 cup pickled red onions (recipe follows) for garnish
- Homemade tortilla chips (recipe follows) for garnish
- Avocado, for garnish
Cold-Smoked Grape Tomatoes:
Pickled Red Onions:
Place the fish and cooked shrimp in a large bowl. Toss with the lime and orange juice and let stand in the fridge for at least 45 minutes. When ready to serve, use a slotted spoon to transfer fish/shrimp into a separate, clean airtight container. Transfer over enough citrus to keep the fish/shrimp in some of the juice.
Add the cold-smoked grape tomatoes, cilantro, onions, chilies, salt and pepper and toss gently to combine. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss.
Place the ceviche on a serving platter or on individual plates. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Garnish with pickled red onions and lime zest. Add a couple of avocado slices and homemade tortilla chips on the side.
Cold-Smoked Grape Tomatoes:
Halve the tomatoes and toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Place tomatoes in a mesh grill pan and place on a hot grill. Let the oil drip to create flame and smoke.
Let the tomatoes “baste” in the smoke long enough to impart smokiness but not so long that they cook and get mushy (about 2 – 3 minutes).
Pickled Red Onions:
Bring the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil in a small saucepan and cook until the sugar and salt dissolves, about 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool for 10 minutes. Add the onions and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
They keep well in an airtight container and are great paired with many other dishes, salads, and sandwiches.
Homemade Tortilla Chips:
- Peanut, corn, or vegetable oil for frying
- 1 package corn tortillas
- Kosher salt
- Cajun (or other) spice blend
Fill a high-sided sauté pan, or other pot, with about 2 inches of oil. Just be sure not to fill up the pan more than half way or the oil could boil over and catch fire.
Cut the tortillas into the desired shape (triangles, strips, circles, etc.).
Over high heat, bring the oil temperature to 375 degrees. Use a deep-fry thermometer to monitor and ensure correct temperature. If the oil is not hot enough, the chips will be soggy, if it’s too hot they will burn. It may take a few attempts to get it perfect.
When the oil comes up to temperature, drop the cut tortillas by small batches into the hot oil. Using a spider strainer, or other slotted utensil, flip the chips as they cook or submerge in the oil to ensure both sides cook evenly. Cook chips until they’re golden brown and crispy (2 – 3 minutes). Remove to paper towels and turn off the heat while chips are processed. Immediately sprinkle with kosher salt to taste, and seasoning blend if using, and transfer to a clean bowl.
Turn the heat back on high and bring oil back up to 375 degrees. Repeat in small batches with remaining chips.
If you have a deep fryer, drop the whole lot into the heated oil, cook until crispy, drain on paper towels, season, and transfer to airtight container.
Feel free to vary the citrus to your tastes, use all lime, all orange, add lemon, etc. The blend of lime and orange juices in this recipe deliver a good balance of tartness and sweetness. Regardless of your choice of juices, never use packaged juices for ceviche, only fresh-squeezed.
Buy the fish from a quality market or fish monger. The fresher the better. Really fresh fish tastes better and is healthier. Scallops also work really well in ceviche.
Regardless of how it’s to be prepared, raw seafood should never smell “fishy.” It should smell fresh, slightly sweet, and ocean-like. If there is a hint of ammonia or fishiness, do not use it. To be sure of freshness, ask your fish monger to let you give it a good smell before it’s wrapped up!
The shrimp have to be poached first because they’re too dense for the citrus to penetrate and cook the shrimp. Poach the shrimp in salted water with bay leaves, lemons, and peppercorns until just cooked through.
The pickled red onions, homemade tortilla chips, and smoky tomatoes add additional depth of flavor, texture, and are worth the extra steps.