A Classic Mexican Recipe
With 6,000 miles of coastline, fresh fish is abundant, varied and inexpensive almost anywhere in Mexico, and ceviche is always on the menu. Ceviche is Mexico’s answer to sushi. Instead of being completely raw, the fish is “cooked” in acidic fresh citrus juice. Instead of rice and seaweed, ceviche is mixed with the classic Mexican vegetables and served on a tostada, a crisp corn tortilla.
Our local fish market was a happening place this morning, with crates of fish coming in off the boats while we watched. Martin, our friendly fish vendor and fisherman, had parrot fish, a favorite for ceviche. He filleted it for us, knowing we wanted the trimmings to use for fish broth. At 35 pesos a kilo (2.2 pounds), this came out to a little over $1.50 U.S. per pound of whole fish.
Ceviche is easy to make, and very healthy, provided you buy the freshest fish available. Just tell your fish vendor what you plan to make, and you will be steered to the right selections. The Monterey Bay Aquarium will help you make an environmentally aware decision. In Mexico, shrimp, squid, tuna, mackerel and octopus are all used to make ceviche.
This recipe makes enough for two. It easily scales up for more servings or bigger appetites.
2 cups (12 oz./340 grams) raw fish, small dice
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 medium tomatoes, small dice
1/4 cup (or a small handful) finely chopped red onion
fresh chile, minced, such as serrano or jalapeño, to taste — let your personal risk level be your guide
2/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
sea salt to taste
Cube or roughly chop the fish into small pieces. Your knife, cutting board and hands should be very clean.
Squeeze citrus juice. If you live in California or Florida, you may have sour oranges available. I used one sour orange and three small Key limes, the common lime of Mexico, for this recipe. I only have sour oranges available in the winter, and use lime juice the rest of the year, which still makes an excellent ceviche.
Pour enough fresh lime juice over the fish so that it is submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 6-24 hours, stirring occasionally.
Prepare the vegetables. Each region of Mexico has its own variation of ceviche, even one including canned peas! I added sliced avocado as a garnish, though it can also be added cubed to the mixture.
Using your hands, squeeze a handful of fish at a time to remove most of the lime juice. Mix with the vegetables, salt to taste, and garnish with a cilantro sprig and sliced avocado. Serve with crisp corn tostadas. It’s almost like being on a beach in Mexico, but not quite.