Mexican Ceviche

Mexican ceviche, a fresh fish delicacy, is delightful as an appetizer, entree, or snack.

| May/June 1980

063 mexican ceviche - two panels

LEFT: Ingredients for the basic Mexican ceviche dish. RIGHT: A completed ceviche ready for serving.


I was introduced to Mexican ceviche (it's pronounced "say-vee-chay") while on a scuba diving expedition off the Caribbean coast of Mexico. We were out at sea on a Mexican fishing boat and—when a member of our party speared a large mackerel—the capitán hastened to prepare a lunch.

Using a very sharp knife, he skinned and filleted the fish, chopped it into chunks, placed the pieces in a bowl, and squeezed a number of little limes over them. Then he produced tomatoes, onions, "chiles" (actually hot jalapeño peppers), and a bunch of fresh cilantro (a popular Mexican herb, not unlike coriander or parsley). These, too, were chopped up and added to the fish ... along with salt, pepper, and olive oil.

We took off our scuba gear and sat down to a memorable meal of ceviche and crackers.

The captain's recipe is standard all over Mexico and remains my favorite ... just as mackerel is still my preferred fish for the dish. However, the possible variations on the basic formula are endless ... and every ceviche fan seems to have his or her own special version, each one as tasty as the next.

Actually, any white fish—either fresh or saltwater—can be used. Traditionally, Mexicans prefer "fatty" seafood, such as mackerel and pompano. Some cooks, though, like the more delicate sole, while others go for striped bass or red snapper. But—no matter what kind of finny creature you choose—ceviche is always at its best when the fish is freshly caught.

Once your main ingredient is in hand ... skin the fish, fillet it, and cut it into chunks. (Though some cooks use large pieces, I prefer small cubes of half an inch or less.) Like the capitan, I happen to especially favor the tanginess of lime juice as a marinade, but you may also try lemon juice ... half lime and half lemon ... or a mixture of lime, lemon, and orange. But here again, use only freshly squeezed juice, as the bottled kind is simply inadequate for the job.

2/13/2009 1:31:56 AM

Ceviche is pronounce "Seh-vee-cheh". Just thought you might want to know since you give the pronounciation.

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