Ceviche is one of those magical dishes that originated in one country but couldn’t have existed without the contributions of another. Most historians agree that ceviche was born in Peru or Ecuador, but not until the colonial era after the Spanish introduced citrus fruit to the region.
It’s the acid of the citrus that “cooks” the fish or other seafood such as shrimp or scallops, which is technically not cooked at all. Instead, the acid denatures the flesh, changing its texture by firming it up and turning it opaque. In Peru, ceviche is its national dish, but the same is true in other nations, including Tahiti where coconut milk is added for creaminess and flavor. Today, there are ceviche recipes spanning the globe. It seems wherever there is a coastline there is ceviche, each nation adding their own voice through spices and other native ingredients.
The key to a good ceviche is to ensure you are using the freshest fish possible, sushi-grade if available. Serve it immediately to maintain that fresh-from-the-sea flavor and don’t forget the chips and a glass of crisp white wine.
Here are six ceviche recipes from around the world:
Peruvian Ceviche: Cebiche
Peruvians are so proud of their ceviche (which they spell cebiche) that they consider it their national dish. It makes sense since the nation has one of the largest coastlines in South America and a bounty of fish to choose from. This recipe includes a flash of heat from the habanero peppers along with plenty of limes and cilantro for a bright, zesty finish. For an even more authentic Peruvian experience, reserve the acidulation juice once the ceviche is ready and drink it separately in a shot glass. In Peru it’s called tiger’s milk and Peruvians are convinced it’s the best cure for a hangover. Get the recipe.
Cook Islands Ceviche: Ika Mata
It makes sense that an island where palm trees heavy with coconuts that is surrounded by turquoise blue water would have invented a ceviche recipe. It’s called Ika Mata and what differentiates it from many other ceviche recipes is the addition of coconut milk to the acid that cooks the fish. The result is a creamy finish that in this recipe is made even more tropical with the addition of pineapple. Get the recipe.
What distinguishes Mexican ceviche from other recipes throughout the world is that it almost always includes avocado, which grows in abundance throughout the coastal regions of Mexico. This recipe also swaps out fish for shrimp, which is the traditional way to prepare it in Veracruz, Mexico, one of the nation’s most famed regions for ceviche. Pile it high atop a plate of nachos and you’ll be immediately transported to a Mexican beach. Promise. Get the recipe.
Tahitian Ceviche: Poisson Cru
The name might harken back to a time when Tahiti was a French colony, but the ingredients and flavors are all Tahitian. Poisson Cru is so beloved on the island that it’s considered its national dish. High-grade sushi-grade tuna is the fish most frequently used on the island but any high quality, firm white or red fish will also work. Ginger, red bell pepper, and coconut milk are standout ingredients in this recipe that will instantly transport you to the warmth of Polynesia. Get the recipe.
South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean can’t have all the fun when it comes to ceviche. Nations fortunate enough to boast of a coastline along the Mediterranean are also rightfully proud of their ceviche recipes. Sumac, fennel, and mint are the ingredients that define the flavor profile of a Mediterranean ceviche. In this elegant recipe, cherry tomatoes, orange juice, and jalapeno round out this simple yet addictive and refreshing dish. Get the recipe.
Thai Ceviche: Yum Hoy Shell
Ceviche might have originated in Peru but similar preparations have been popular in Thailand for centuries. Fish is traditionally used in Thai ceviche recipes but this dish calls for scallops which is a fresh twist on a traditional ceviche. Fish sauce is added to ratchet up the umami flavors, and cucumbers give it a fresh finish and crunchy texture. Get the recipe.