Ceviche is a fresh, flavorful and delicious way to eat seafood. While traditional ceviche uses white fish — typically grouper, rockfish or sole — you can use a wide variety of seafood to prepare it, including shrimp and even crab. However, many people shy away from making ceviche at home.
In truth, we can’t blame them. Consuming raw fish can be risky, particularly if the fish isn’t good quality or wasn’t frozen in advance. While the process of making ceviche cures the fish in acidic citrus juices and turns it opaque, it still remains mostly raw. Curing fish in acid does eliminate some of the potential toxins and bacteria that could make you sick, but it doesn’t completely eliminate the risk. Even though the risk of contamination remains low and the resulting sickness isn’t likely to be worse than an average case of food poisoning, it’s still not pleasant. That’s why, for many people, ceviche is something they only enjoy at restaurants when they can ensure the chefs are using high quality, sushi-grade fish.
However, there are safe ways to prepare ceviche at home — you just have to take some precautions. Here are our best tips:
Avoid freshwater fish. Eating freshwater fish raw can come with some additional risks, so it’s best avoided. Stick to fish from the sea that has been sustainably caught and sourced.
Use frozen fish. It might be tempting to get fresh fish to make your ceviche, but frozen actually comes with less risks. And for ceviche, higher quality is always better. Look for a wild caught and flash frozen white fish, like cod or halibut. You want the texture to be firm and the flavor subtle.
Use a variety of citrus. While lime is the most commonly used citrus for ceviche, a combination of citrus yields the best flavor. Try combining three parts fresh lime juice, two parts fresh lemon juice and one part fresh grapefruit juice for variety. Make sure you have enough juice to fully soak the chunks of fish.
Practice patience. Ceviche takes time to marinate. In order for the citrus acid to effectively cure the fish, you should let it soak in the juices for at least 30 minutes, but ideally longer. However, it’s a fine balance: too long and your fish might start to pickle. Aim for the sweet spot of around one hour, but no more than two. And don’t forget to zest your citrus and include that in your mix — it’ll enhance the flavor even further.
Add other seasonings and ingredients. Vegetables, like tomatoes, onion, jalapeño and corn, as well as seasonings, like cilantro and salt, are essential for making your ceviche as delicious as possible. Play around with combinations and flavors that you like until you find your perfect formula.
Serve it up right. Most people enjoy ceviche as an appetizer — often scooped up on tortilla chips or spread onto flatbreads. Others prefer it as a main course on top of salad greens. However, you choose to enjoy your ceviche, just choose a serving method that allows the fully developed flavors to really shine.
Remember, the first and most important ingredient is the quality of fish. Shop here before making ceviche at home.