Homemade Ceviche Couldn't Be Easier—Here's How to Do it Right
Traditional ceviche recipes consist of raw seafood “cooked” in an acidic marinade such as citrus juice or vinegar. Ceviche recipes take just minutes to assemble and make a delicious and impressive party appetizer either served with tortilla chips for dipping, in a small glass, or served as a tostada or taco topping.
There are many variations of the dish, from Mexican ceviche recipes that use a lime marinade to infinitely complex Peruvian ceviche recipes. Peru takes its ceviche seriously—it’s been officially declared as part of their national heritage and has a holiday to honor it. There, ceviche (or cebiche) is marinated in a spicy-tart aji-chili-lime sauce called “leche de tigre” or “tiger’s milk." It’s also served with a wide variety of accompaniments, from diced cooked sweet potato to kernels of toasted corn, corn on the cob and more, making it an entire meal and flavor experience.
Here, we cover how to make ceviche at home in just a few simple steps.
The best ceviche starts with top-quality fish. You can use any mild white ocean seafood such as shrimp, snapper, sea bass, halibut, calamari, or tilapia. You’ll also need a citrus base for marinating the fish. Lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice, bitter orange juice, vinegar, or a combination of these works well. According to Chef Ryley Eckersley of Quaintrelle in Portland, these are the other necessary components to a making top-notch ceviche:
Salt – to get flavor into the fish, salt it first and let it sit for a few minutes. You can also add salty components like fish sauce or smoked salt depending on the desired flavor profile.
Herbs – fish and dill are best friends, but cilantro, basil, chives all deliver their own unique qualities. Experiment with whatever you have on hand.
Sweet – Fruit often comes into play here. Stone fruits, melons and citrus all work well. If it’s a juicier fruit, feel free to add some of the juice to the mixture.
Heat – A variety of chilis are available in the summertime, from jalapenos to habaneros. If you’re more heat averse, raw onion or scallions may suit you just fine.
Richness – Even an oilier fish often requires a touch more richness. Avocado, olive oil, or sesame oil do the trick nicely.
Crunch – To counter the softness of the fish, add some texture like cucumbers. Ryley also loves serving ceviche with an edible scoop that delivers crunch like cabbage leaves, tortilla chips or fried won tons.
It’s easy to prepare your ceviche marinade well ahead. Just juice your citrus and keep it cold in the refrigerator for up to four days. Be sure to make more than you think you’ll need so you can completely immerse fish cubes when you’re ready to prepare the ceviche recipe.
How to make ceviche
- Dice fish into even pieces. For the cleanest cuts, you can partially freeze your fish first and use an extremely sharp knife.
- Place diced fish in a nonreactive bowl or pan such as stainless steel, enamel coated, or glass. Aluminum and cast iron pans can give an off color and favor to any acidic food like ceviche.
- Pour the marinade over the seafood and toss to coat. Make sure you have enough to cover the fish and allow it to move freely.
- Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes or up to 4 hours based on the type of fish, the size of the fish chunks, and how tangy you want your ceviche to taste. Ceviche is done “cooking” when cubes of fish no longer look raw when cut open.
- Put in a colander to drain off the marinade.
- Keep your ceviche well-chilled for up to one day.
- Add extra ingredients, garnishes, and seasonings just before serving for the freshest taste.