Ceviche: A Centerpiece of Peruvian Heritage

Ceviche. Source:  James .

Ceviche. Source: James.

CEVICHE TIME. It's hard not to love ceviche just like how it's hard not to love me. It's refreshing. It's tropical. It makes you feel like you're in one of those beautiful countries like Ecuador or Costa Rica. It's awesome. If you haven't tried it before, you're missing out. Ceviche, also spelled as "Seviche" or "Cebiche", is pronounced like "SE-VEE-CHAY". Yay, you can feel sophisticated in front of your friends because you know how to pronounce "ceviche". Now, let's actually learn about the dish. Ceviche is a popular, cold seafood dish in Central and South America. It's made from raw fish cured in lemon or lime juice and spiced with chili peppers. Ceviche is usually seasoned with salt, onions, and cilantro.

The dish's origins can be traced to current-day northern Peru about 2,000 years ago. Like you know this is good food when people have been eating it for that long. Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the fish was cured with fermented banana passion fruit juice or fermented corn-derivatives (chicha). Once the Spanish colonists arrived, the natives switched to the citrus fruits that the Spanish had brought with them. Ceviche is now part of Peru's national heritage. Each year, on June 28, Peru celebrates National Ceviche Day. Today, ceviche is now an international dish prepared in a ton of different ways. You can find different versions of ceviche in Panama, the United States, Ecuador, Colombia, and Mexico.

The original Peruvian ceviche is traditionally made with raw sea bass, sliced onions, fresh key lime juice, chili peppers, pepper, and salt. It is also normal to see tilapia, octopus, or scallops in the dish. The ceviche is marinated in lime or lemon juice. The citric acid denatures the proteins in the seafood, which causes the fish to appear cooked. The denaturation also makes digestion more efficient. Wow. So Science. Note: denaturation does not necessarily kill bacteria and pathogens. That is why fresh fish must be used for ceviche. This method was developed in the 1970's by Dario Matsufuji and Humberto Sato, two Peruvian-Japanese chefs. As you can imagine, the dish goes well with cool, refreshing vegetables. Typically, you'll see ceviche come with foods like corn, avocado, or tomatoes with a side of chips. YUM. 

Below are some cool recipes for ceviche. Try them out and tell me how it goes!

  1. Scallop Ceviche

  2. Tilapia Ceviche

  3. Halibut/Sea Bass Ceviche

NYC recommendations if you want to try ceviche:

  1. La Pulperia: They have a tasting and a ceviche mixto (mixed ceviche). 

  2. Pio Pio: 6 different types of ceviche. They have mixto, traditional Peruvian, nikkei (tuna and asian flavors), mussels, saltado (shrimp, octopus, squid), escabeche. 

  3. Desnuda: East Village or Brooklyn. 7 different types of ceviche. The flavors seem more complex. They also serve tiger prawn, Maine lobster, scallop ceviche. 

  4. Yerba Buena: 4 types of ceviche. Again, interesting flavors. They use ingredients like black truffle vinaigrette, leche de tigre, peanut butter aioli, or avocado puree.