While the name might not be familiar to many Europeans, ceviche (“seh-BEE-chay” ) is the perfect dish to enjoy on a Mediterranean sailing holiday, and one that just may become a new summer favorite even once you're back on solid land. Hugely popular in Latin America—with origins in Peru—ceviche is simply a marinated seafood salad, whose main ingredient is very fresh, raw fish, cut into bite-sized chunks, and then “cooked” in citrus juice (usually a combination of lemon and lime) and seasoned with salt and other herbs and spices.Requiring neither a stove nor oven, it's the acid of the fruit juice that pickles the fish, changing its texture and consistency the way cooking does, and requiring very little kitchen work.
One thing to remember: the pickling process isn't as effective in killing bacteria as cooking with heat, so it's important to start with the freshest fish possible—possibly caught that very day from the deck of your sailboat. Remember to taste the marinade before adding the seafood, then adjusting the flavors as necessary, but to discard the sauce one it has "cooked" the fish.
There are countless versions of ceviche, but here's the basic recipe, plus a few of our favorite variations.
Basic ceviche recipe (for about 8 people)
1 lb firm, fresh white-fleshed saltwater fish (grouper, snapper, sea bass)
¾ cup lime juice (or a mix of lime and lemon)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon oregano
a pinch or two of sugar
Cut the cleaned, raw fish into bite-sized pieces and then place in a large glass or stainless steel bowl. Stir in the lime juice, salt, sugar, and oregano together in a small bowl and then pour over the fish. Refrigerate for at least an hour or until the fish has become opaque and white. Time will depend on the amount of fish and the thickness of the pieces. When "cooked", drain all of the liquid and then add any additional ingredients you may desire, letting the flavors blend for another hour.
To this basic recipe, you might try adding (once the fish has been cooked)
- ripe avocado, cubed into small pieces
- a small amount of chopped red or white onion
- thin slices of celery
- fresh chopped cilantro
- a touch of fresh chili
- fresh exotic fruit like pineapple or mango
We recommend pairing it with cold beer or white wine and nice, salty tortilla chips. Lunch, dear sailors, is served!