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Quick and Easy Fish Ceviche Recipe

My husband and I both enjoy cooking. We like sampling and discovering new and different foods from all areas of the world.

As a child growing up and watching my mother make nearly all of our meals from scratch, both of my brothers and I developed a fondness for cooking and baking. As soon as we were tall enough, my mother let each of us help her in safe ways for a child to master. As we matured, we could each do more to get the many different meals on our kitchen table, where the five of us gathered to dine. Our dining room table was a place for special occasions. Our kitchen was the place of action and fond memory-making.

At dinner each night, it was a time to talk about what we had experienced each day. One subject almost always mentioned was food. Once or twice each week, my mother made the homemade bread we consumed during the week. If the garden was producing, canning projects became the topic of discussion. The magnificent scents coming from her kitchen were mouthwatering.

My husband also loves to cook, and one of our pastimes is watching the food network on television. Together, we are always trying new recipes, and we love to entertain.

When a good friend of ours told us about his upcoming fishing trip to Alaska, we were excited for him. We got even more excited to hear that he would be sharing some of the fresh-caught fish with us if he was successful. When his wife shared a smiling photo of him holding a 48-inch halibut via a text message, we began to dream of the many preparations we might be making, and ceviche came to mind. Our friend was fishing south of Juneau in the area around Glacier Bay. I have his permission to use this photo of him holding this picture-worthy whopper of a catch.

Our friend holding up his catch in Glacier Bay, Alaska

Our friend holding up his catch in Glacier Bay, Alaska

What Is Ceviche?

Ceviche (pronounced “seh-vee-chay”) is a dish consisting of fresh seafood that is generally raw or lightly blanched or parboiled. The quick curing of the fish occurs using citrus juices, most often lime or lemon. There are various seasonings and items such as peppers, onions, and salt that flavor the dish. Accompaniments vary.

People from different parts of the world put their own spin on how to prepare and serve ceviche. Numerous recipes for this dish are easy to find online.

Most people credit the origin of ceviche to Peru, where it is honored as a national dish. Spellings of the word ceviche also include the following: sebiche, seviche, and cebiche.

Is Ceviche Safe to Eat?

On the occasions my husband and I have eaten ceviche in restaurants, I am sure that it was properly handled and prepared. Chefs would use fish caught that same day, and the locales where we had eaten this delicious dish were all adjacent to sea waters where delivery of the fresh-caught fish took place daily. One example I recall was on the island of Majorca off the coast of Spain, where we enjoyed beautifully served chilled glass filled with delicious ceviche.

In the case of vessels going out to deep-sea fish for many days in a row, the fish is typically quickly frozen at -31 degrees Fahrenheit and kept in cold storage at that temperature for a minimum of 15 hours. Alternately after being quickly frozen at that or even lower temperatures, it is then stored at -4 degrees for a minimum of seven days. The majority of the fish for sale in supermarkets today coming from those ships are previously frozen. This information is good to know for the following reason.

By flash freezing the seafood and holding it in prescribed cold temperatures for those minimum time requirements, any bacteria or parasites are killed and no longer present a threat to health. The supermarkets then thaw the fish and keep it on ice for purchase and use however we wish. Thus, the risk of becoming infected with pathogens is not a significant threat if we handle the seafood with caution on our end.

Should Pregnant Women Eat Ceviche?

Women who are pregnant, or other immunocompromised individuals, should always avoid eating any uncooked proteins. This includes undercooked or raw meats as well as seafood. The risk to your or your baby’s health is not worth it.

Larger fish like tuna and swordfish, among others, can accumulate significant levels of mercury that can affect the health of all individuals if consumed daily. It is best to limit one’s intake of those fish to once, or not more than twice a week, even if cooked.

So for all the ladies who are pregnant, or considering getting pregnant, skip the ceviche for now. Your health and that of your baby are the most important considerations at this time.

How to Make Ceviche

Here is a recipe that I recently made, and my husband and I enjoyed it immensely. The poaching liquid was simple. It was two quarts of water and a quarter cup of kosher salt.

We almost always keep a package of frozen shrimp in our freezer, so it was easy to whip up this summertime taste treat using shrimp for the ceviche. As soon as the avocado had ripened sufficiently, we were ready to go! The rest of the ingredients we already had on hand.

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup celery, finely sliced
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large jalapeño, seeded and finely minced
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 oranges, juiced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 cup tomato, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 large avocado, chopped into ½-inch pieces
  • Fresh cilantro, to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • Hot sauce, optional
quick-and-easy-fish-ceviche-recipe

Instructions

  1. In a pot, bring 2 quarts water and a quarter cup of kosher salt to a boil. Add the shrimp, cover, and turn off the heat. After 3 minutes, remove the shrimp. When cool enough to handle, cut the shrimp into 1/2-inch slices.
  2. In a glass or stainless steel bowl, add the sliced shrimp, sliced celery, finely chopped red onion, minced jalapeño, plus lemon, orange, and lime juice. Refrigerate this mixture for 40 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato, avocado, cilantro, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Let this mixture stand at room temperature for 25 to 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
  4. Serve and garnish with some hot sauce, if desired, and your choice of accompaniments such as tortilla chips.
Shrimp ceviche with tortilla chips

Shrimp ceviche with tortilla chips

What Fish Is Best for Ceviche?

Considering all of the fish and other sea creatures in the oceans, I am sure that many of them have, at one time or another, been of use in the making of ceviche. However, the majority of people seem to agree that fish like halibut, mahi-mahi, seabass, snapper, grouper, flounder, tilapia, and other saltwater white fish are the best to use.

As you can see from the recipe above, I used shrimp. Squid, octopus, scallops, and more, can be put to use in place of white fish. Once you read a few recipes, let your imagination soar, and feel free to create your recipe to suit your taste or ingredients that are readily available.

Some chefs and home cooks pre-cook the seafood for ceviche before the marinating process takes place. If considering safety factors, this is the safest way to eat ceviche. I like the idea of using cooked shrimp and used recipe inspiration from Emeril Lagasse and Martha Stewart regarding the cooking of the shrimp.

Their recipe uses the juice of lemons, limes, and oranges. It calls for serrano chilis, among other ingredients. However, because my husband does not like eating cucumber, I made several substitutions, as you can see in the written recipe above. You can read their entire recipe in the links at the bottom of this page if you wish to see all the differences.

Does Lime Juice Really “Cook” the Fish?

Acidic juices such as lime, lemon, grapefruit, orange, or bitter orange, when combined with raw proteins like fish, change the consistency and color of the fish. After some contact with the acid, the fish changes in appearance and looks cooked. The scientific word for this is denaturation. Heating and cooking foods also denature the product. It is a chemical reaction that takes place.

Just as a cooked egg white turns from a liquidy and translucent color to a firm consistency and white coloration, fish will also become more opaque and more firm when combined with acidic juices.

How Long Should Ceviche Be Marinated?

Concerning making ceviche, opinions vary as to how long the citrus juices should marinate (or "cook") the seafood. Some recipes suggest a few minutes, while others suggest several hours. A medium rule of thumb is around 15 minutes. As with the ingredients, you will learn what tastes best to you by experimenting with the timing of the acidic marinade. If the seafood becomes too crumbly or rubbery, you will know to marinate it with less contact of the acidic juices the next time you make ceviche.

Does Lime Juice Kill Bacteria in Ceviche?

Some people assume that lime juice, as an example, will kill bacteria in the marination process of making ceviche. While it may kill some bacteria, it is safer to assume that not all will be eliminated, as in other cooking methods. The same is true for parasites when eating raw fish.

The only sure way of knowing that all pathogens are no longer viable is to eat fully cooked seafood or seafood that is flash-frozen and stored at those subzero temperatures aboard the deep seafaring vessels before being sold in our grocery stores.

What to Serve With Ceviche?

We like eating ceviche with a few tortilla chips or even with no other accompaniments other than a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc or a glass of good rose wine. Others choose to serve ceviche piled on top of saltine crackers, tostadas, plantain chips, or thin slices of toasted bread. Drinks in addition to wine include sparkling water, iced tea, beer, or a libation of your choice. Let your taste preferences be your guide.

Sources

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Peggy Woods

Comments

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 26, 2021:

Hi Peg,

I like that photo also! I plan to make more of that shrimp ceviche soon. It is delicious! I am glad you enjoyed reading about it.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on June 26, 2021:

I enjoyed reading how you make this dish. I have tried it at a restaurant, but it was a long, long time ago. Thanks for sharing this interesting detailed recipe and the photo of your friend was awesome.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 25, 2021:

Hi EK Jadoon,

I am happy to know that you enjoyed reading this article about ceviche. Wishing you good health and happiness!

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on June 25, 2021:

You have written a detailed and well-researched article, Peggy. I think you are lucky that your brother and husband both love to cook. Thanks for sharing your beautiful memories and recipe with us.

Stay safe and healthy...

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 24, 2021:

Hi Rachel,

He really caught a big one, didn't he! After learning about the flash freezing at those low temperatures, it makes me feel better about eating deep-sea fishes. To be extra safe, you can parboil it first. It will still taste delicious when made as ceviche. Thanks for your comment.

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on June 24, 2021:

Hi Peggy. Although I don't like raw fish but your pictures makes it look so refreshing and tasty. I think I would have to cook it some first. Also I love that picture of your friend holding up that huge fish he caught. Thanks for your recipes.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 24, 2021:

Hi Bill,

This is the same article. I made a mistake with the title not matching the URL, so with help got it corrected. You might like the recipe that I made using the shrimp, as it is not raw. It is so flavorful!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 23, 2021:

Two articles about Ceviche in one week, and I don't think I've ever seen one in the ten years prior. lol It's weird how that happens sometimes.

I'm not a big raw fish fan, and I'm not terribly adventurous when eating, so this probably isn't for me. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 23, 2021:

Hi Eric,

I am glad you enjoy eating ceviche and also happy to share that information about the caution of eating it for pregnant women.

Eric Caunca from Philippines on June 23, 2021:

Thanks for information. I didn't know that ceviche and other uncooked food are not good for pregnant women. Thank you.

Eric Caunca from Philippines on June 23, 2021:

I love Ceviche. The Philippines has its own version of ceviche. It was introduced here since PH was a former colony of both Spain and the USA. It usually serves when there's an occasion or party as beer food. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2021:

Hi Bill,

After reading how deep-sea fish are frozen at those sub-zero temperatures, it assures one of safety. Alternately, as I did with the shrimp, you can parboil it to assure safety in eating. I am glad this brought back some good fishing memories for you.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2021:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

Yes, our friend caught a large one! He looks so happy in that photo. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2021:

Hi John,

If you cook the shrimp as I did, you should be safe. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2021:

Hi Chitrangada,

Those of us who learned to cook alongside our mothers are fortunate. I am so glad you liked reading this. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2021:

Hi Rozlin,

Enjoy the recipe! Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2021:

Hi Linda,

It was fascinating for me to learn about how those deep-sea vessels prepare and freeze the fish. I am glad you enjoyed learning about it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2021:

Hi Rosina,

I am so pleased that you enjoyed reading this article about ceviche. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2021:

Hi Dora,

The way that fish is flash-frozen on board those deep-sea fishing vessels is amazing and adds a safety factor to eating it. Thanks for your comment.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 22, 2021:

I never knew how to pronounce that word, probably because I knew I would never eat it. lol Me and raw fish don't mix. But I have caught some rather large fish, so I could relate to that part of the story. :) Enjoy your fish, my friend.

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 22, 2021:

That is one enormous fish your friend snagged! I'm glad you knew what to do with it. You certainly do have a flair for cooking (and for proper pronunciation as none of us would probably know how to say this one). It looks like quite the delicacy, like a sushi cousin. I bet my husband would like it.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on June 22, 2021:

Pegg, I bet your friend was thrilled with his fine catch. I have never eaten ceviche and am wary of uncooked seafood, but I would certainly be willing to try this. I am sure the citrus, salt, chilli etc would ensure this was close enough to being cooked for me.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 21, 2021:

Hi Peggy!

I enjoyed reading your article, with all the interesting information and narration. Learning small, but significant details about cooking, through our mothers, is such a cherished memory. I also have very sweet memories of the same.

This is more than a recipe article. You obviously know how to make a recipe article interesting. Loved the recipe and the pictures.

Thank you for sharing this. Have a great week ahead.

Rozlin from UAE on June 21, 2021:

Hi, Peggy. Your recipe sounds delicious. I will try it someday. Thank you sharing the recipe.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 21, 2021:

Hi MIsbah,

It would be such a fun experience to catch such a giant fish for anyone who loves fishing. I hope you surprise your mum with this shrimp ceviche recipe someday. Please let me know if she likes it. Thanks!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 21, 2021:

Hi Pamela,

You can still enjoy ceviche if the right precautions are taken. It is best to take safety considerations into decisions made about eating any food. Thanks for being the first to comment.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 21, 2021:

Thank you for not only sharing an interesting recipe but also for including all the safety information, Peggy. This is a very educational article. I appreciate the recipe and the information.

Rosina S Khan on June 21, 2021:

I love fish more than chicken or beef. I found the recipe in this article about preparing Fish Ceviche amazing. It's so easy to prepare and certainly looks delicious. I would like to try the Ceviche with cooked shrimp for safety reasons and have an accompanying coco-cola drink. Thank you, Peggy, for this wonderful recipe.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 21, 2021:

Ceviche sounds like an adventure for the brave, but perhaps it's just trying something new for most people. I find it interesting and wouldn't mind trying it with a fish like snapper or mahi-mahi. You did a great job explaining the process. Thank you.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on June 21, 2021:

Wow!! Peggy, I love it. I enjoyed reading your hub. Hats Off to your friend, it's too big fish to handle. If, someone were coming to me with this size of fish. I would have gone crazy thinking where I will keep it... Lol! But you are smart. You managed it nicely. Well-Done, my friend. I truly appreciate that. My mum loves eating seafood. Maybe someday I can surprise her with the Shrimp Ceviche. I am sure she will love it.

Thank you for sharing. Stay happy and healthy.

Blessings and Love

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 21, 2021:

This is a very interesting article and ceviche sounds delicious, no matter which fish you choose. I am immunocompromised, so I always have be careful, but this sure sounds delicious. Thank you for sharing all of this fascinating information, Peggy.

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