The Great Chemistry of Ceviche
what is Ceviche and from where does it comes from?
Don’t be scared because of the Word chemistry, there will be no quizzes here, I promise, but there is an undeniable thing that happens with ceviche, a great dish made with fish or shellfish marinated in citric acids, it is a very common dish in many Latin American countries, mostly on the west coast of the continent with the Pacific Ocean and its biological diversity and it is also part of the cultural patrimony of Peru.
Now, why chemistry you may ask, well, unlike sushi the fish or shellfish of the ceviche is not raw, and you might think that that is crazy but cooking is not only about frying or baking something, it is transforming something and making it an amazing edible experience, strictly talking there is no heat application here whatsoever so we cannot really talk about cooking, so if you are wondering how is the fish “cooked” it is mainly because of the acids that are involved.
The usual way to add the acids is with lemon or lime juice on the fish or shellfish and to let it marinate for a while, what happens here is magical, the acids just like the heat, start coagulating the proteins of the meat, and come on, isn’t fish and lime the best combination of the sea? So even that there is no “cooking” involved the acids have a similar effect to the meat than the heat.
The most common ingredients of ceviche include hake, tilapia and Marlin fish, shrimps and a variety of mussels and clams with the essential lemon or lime juice, and spices like salt, black pepper, garlic, onion and cilantro and even jalapeño for that extra spicy flavor, of course, the ingredients may vary depending on the location, so people may add avocados vinegar or even ginger ale instead of the fruits.
So if you want to impress a special someone with a different dinner experience or with a nice beach meal or just to make with some friends here we have some recipes for you, it is advised that days prior to making ceviche that you freeze the fish at a temperature of -20ºC for 7 days or -36ºC for 24 hours to reduce the chance of any possible sign of bacteria or parasite.
1. One of the most basic recipes we can offer you is our very own Moby Ceviche, it is simple, delicious, and everybody loves it, it is a guaranteed success and super easy to make and it makes a great pair with white wine especially with a Sauvignon Blanc.
- Chopped Jumbo Black Tiger shrimp
- Lime juice
- Pico de gallo & avocado
- Served with tortilla chips
2. This shrimp ceviche recipe is really good but takes a little bit more of preparation, in this one the shrimps are actually cooked for a little while.
2 quarts water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 pound raw shrimp (21-25 per pound), peeled and deveined
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 limes
Juice of 2 oranges
1 cup diced seeded peeled cucumber (1/4 - inch dice)
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 serrano chiles, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup diced seeded tomato
1 avocado, chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 tablespoon roughly chopped cilantro leaves, plus more leaves for garnish
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Start by heating the water and the salt until it boils, and then add the shrimps, turn off the heat and let sit for 3 minutes, take them out and in a bowl add the shrimps and the lime, lemon and orange juices, the cucumber and the chiles, refrigerate for an hour and then add the tomatoes, the avocado and the cilantro along with some extra virgin oil, add some salt as well and let it stand for 30 minutes and that’s it, serve it with tortilla chips
3. Tilapia ceviche recipe
2 pounds tilapia fillets, finely diced
1 cup lime juice
1/2 cup seeded of chopped tomato
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup clam-tomato juice (optional)
1 tablespoon of hot Sauce (optional)
1 serrano chile, optional
1 avocado thinly sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges
To make this happen just take the tilapia in a medium bowl then pour the lime juice over the fish and mix gently to combine, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until the fish is white throughout about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove from the refrigerator and drain off the lime juice, gently squeezing the fish with your hands, discard the lime juice and Add the tomato, cucumber, onion, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, add the clam-tomato juice and the hot sauce if using.
Spread the tostadas generously with mayonnaise and top with the ceviche. Arrange the avocado slices on top of the ceviche and serve immediately with the lime wedges alongside.
To make the grilled tostadas just Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat, put the tortillas on the grill or grill pan, and let them dry out until they are crunchy or you can just buy some.
4. Peruvian Ceviche, a classic take on this dish that has influenced the Peruvian culinary culture for centuries.
1 Red or yellow pepper
2 spring onions
400g of skinless sea bass, lemon sole or snapper.
Juice of 3 lemons
1 or 2 red chiles
8 sprigs of fresh mint
8 sprigs of fresh coriander
1 punnet of mustard cress
Extra virgin olive oil
Deseed and finely chop the pepper and finely slice the onions, slice the fish into little cubes and add them to a bowl, fridge until needed, squeeze the lemon juice into a jar and add 1 teaspoon of sea salt along with the chile already chopped and deseeded and pour it on the bowl, put the remaining herbs, serve and drizzle a little oil and grind some black pepper.
And there you have it, a dish from a legendary culture, we hope you enjoy this dish with your loved ones at home and become a culinary alchemist or even better to enjoy it at our restaurant from the hand of our culinary masters.