Ceviche is lime-marinated seafood. It is an honest dish; only the freshest ingredients will make a good ceviche. You must use fresh limes and the freshest seafood you can find. This takes a bit of foraging at the local purveyors of fish.
I was pressed for time when I had the urge to make a big batch of ceviche yesterday. So I headed for Pearl St. Meat and Fish Market in Jackson. I was lucky to catch owner Scott behind the counter, and told him I needed the freshest fish for ceviche. The Ono had just flown in from Hawaii that morning; it had been line-caught and frozen on the boat (no fish is truly fresh here unless you catch it yourself). Pricey, yes, but I only needed 1 pound of fish to make ceviche for a crowd. At $22 per pound, that wasn't too bad.
I also purchased Wild Salmon for the Salmon Ceviche with oranges and capers. Salmon is a bit soft for ceviche, but it works if the fish is firm and fresh.
You could use any firm, fresh white fish with large flakes for ceviche, such as snapper, sea bass, halibut or mahi-mahi. Steaky fish like tuna or swordfish would also make nice ceviche. Finer small-flake fish like trout will get mushy.
Ask the fishmonger to cut off the skin for you; it will save you some time and they always do a neater job of it than I do.
These recipes are adapted from Rick Bayless' book "Mexico One Plate at a Time". Rick Bayless is the chef at my favorite restaurant in Chicago, Frontera Grill. I always get the ceviche when I go there; it is always amazing.
- 1 pound fresh, firm fish fillets, skin off, such as mahi-mahi, ono, halibut, snapper, sea bass
- 12-14 juicy limes, enough to make 1 1/2 cups lime juice
- 1 medium white onion, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
- 6 plum tomatoes, or 2 large tomatoes, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
- 2 serrano chilies, seeds removed and finely chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3/4-1 tsp. salt
- 3 Tbsp. orange juice, or 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 2 small ripe avocados, diced
- Butter lettuce, saltines, or tortilla chips, for serving
- First, Juice the limes. Do not dread this, it is a great upper body workout! If you're limes are less than the juiciest, zap them in the microwave for 15 seconds, and knead them on the counter before juicing. Place the juice in a stainless steel or glass bowl (don't use plastic or aluminum).
- Cut the fish into 1/2 inch dice. Discard any tough, stringy pieces.
- Add chopped onion and fish to the lime juice. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-4 hours, depending on your fish and how raw you like it. I "cooked" the Ono for only 1 1/2 hrs. and it was perfect.
4. In another bowl, mix the tomatoes, cilantro, chilies, and olive oil.
5. Check on your fish and see if it's done to your liking. A piece should no longer look raw when broken open.
6. Drain off the lime juice and gently add the rest of your chopped ingredients, except for the avocados.
7. Season with salt, and add orange juice or sugar. Taste. It should have a nice balance of salty and sweet. Cover and refrigerate.
9. I like to serve this with Saltines, Baja style, and lettuce cups, which make it an even more virtuous and healthy appetizer. Tortilla chips, of course, are also really good.
Salmon Ceviche with Oranges and Capers
- 1 pound fresh salmon fillets, without the skin, cur into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 small red onion, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 serrano chili, deseeded and finely chopped
- 2 large seedless oranges
- 2 Tbsp. drained capers
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus some for garnish
- lettuce cups, saltines, or tortilla chips, for serving
- one avocado, diced (optional)
- Marinate the salmon and the chopped onion in the lime and orange juices.
- Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
- Drain off most of the juice.
- Cut the oranges into pithless segments by first cutting off the top and tail ends, cutting away all the rind, and cutting out the orange fleshy segments. Cut these in half so that they are about the same size as the fish. Add to the fish.
6. Serve with lettuce cups, saltines or tortilla chips. Garnish with cilantro leaves.
If all that is just too much trouble, you can get a really delicious plate of Shrimp Ceviche in the Yucatan style (in a tangy, tomatoey sauce) at La Palma in Driggs, Idaho. La Palma is the white bus parked on the other side of Driggs. It is spotlessly clean, nicely air-conditioned, and the food is great. For $9.99 you get 3 tostadas piled high with shrimp ceviche. It's perfect for sharing, although I have been known to polish off a whole plate on my own.