Ceviche is a mainstay on menus at South and Central American restaurants and the poolside bars along the Caribbean coast of Mexico. But, you don’t need to be on vacation to enjoy this citrus-cured seafood dish. It can be added into your summer snacking repertoire, along with homemade salsas and guacamole. A trip to your local seafood market for fresh fish, some serious knife skills, a little creativity, and tasty tortilla chips will help you master the art of ceviche recipes at home.
The first rule of ceviche: Time is of the essence. The fish you use should be fresh. We’re talking caught the same-day fresh, if possible, says John Bertrand, executive chef of Galerie Des Sens, the fine dining venue at Sensira Resort & Spa in Cancun, Mexico. Also, citrus juices are used to cure your seafood, so this is a dish you want to serve shortly after making it. It doesn’t fare well as leftovers because the citrus juices break down the protein (i.e. it gets mushy).
While the recipes below will give you a good starting point, Bertrand recommends experimenting with different textures, flavors, vegetables, and fruits to arrive at the perfect bite. For example, diced cucumbers can add a nice texture, and, for a wild card, passion fruit can lend a tart punch that plays well with the acidity from citrus.
Traditionally, ceviche is made with flaky and mild-flavored fish like flounder, bass, or snapper, says Geronimo Lopez, a Venezuela native and chef-owner of Botika, located in San Antonio’s Pearl district. However, scallops can work as an alternative, he says. One of the recipes below even swaps mushrooms for seafood to create a vegan rendition of the dish.
Here are five chef-approved takes on ceviche to try this summer, along with some of their best tips for perfecting the appetizer.
5 Fresh Ceviche Recipes to Make This Summer
1. Tamayo’s Ahi Amarillo Tuna Ceviche
Confident enough to experiment? All the ingredients in this dish are to taste, so you have free rein to adjust as you see fit and to scale the recipe up or down. Chef Richard Sandoval—who has multiple restaurant concepts, including Tamayo in Denver—says his grandmother in Mexico City introduced him to ceviche. She would allow him to taste along the way as they made adjustments. From consistently chopped fish to finely minced onions, knife skills are important when it comes to making ceviche, he says, because you don’t want individual flavors to overpower one another.
Create a Leche de Tigre by blending celery, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, habanero, yellow bell pepper, yellow Ají paste, fresno chili pepper, orange juice, and mango puree.
Pour the Leche de Tigre into the bottom of the dish and set your tuna on top.
Top with thinly sliced serrano chili, cucumber, onion, cilantro, and salt to taste.
2. Ceviche Nikkei
Servings: 4 Prep time: 20 minutes “Cook” time: 1 hour marination (this can change depending on how “done” you want the fish)
Nikkei is a melting pot of flavors, with Japanese and Peruvian influences, says Lopez, whose restaurant Botika has flavors and influences from Asia and South America. He recommends pairing this ceviche dish with a lager or dry, fruity white wine.
2 sweet potatoes
1 red onion, cut julienne
1 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 stalk celery, sliced
1/4 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup freshly grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 habanero pepper, seeded and minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1.4-pound fresh flounder, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 pieces of roasted corn, de-grained
Radish and green onion for garnish
How to make it:
Roast sweet potatoes in the oven until easily pierced with a fork and set aside to cool to room temperature. Place sliced onion in a bowl of warm water, let stand for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, place the lime juice, celery, and cilantro into the bowl of a blender, and puree until smooth. Pour this mixture into a large glass bowl. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and habanero pepper. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in diced flounder.
Place in fridge to marinate for an hour, stirring occasionally. The seafood is done once it turns firm and opaque.
To serve, broil the sweet potato slices and line the bowls with them. Stir the onions into the fish mixture. Spoon the ceviche with its juice into the bowls and garnish with corn, radish, and green onion.
3. Altamar Vegan Ceviche
Chef Eric Fisher from Casa Altamar in Tulum, Mexico, created this vegan ceviche option using mushrooms as a seafood substitute. Paris or cremini mushrooms work best, because they have a mild, earthy flavor, which contrasts nicely with the freshness of lime, ginger ,and coriander. You could also experiment with portobello or cauliflower as a base. This is a recipe you’ll want to serve shortly after preparing. If it’s in the fridge for longer than four hours, the mushrooms soften.
Marinate the mushrooms with lime juice for 5 minutes, letting it rest in the refrigerator.
Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well, and season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with radish slices, cilantro leaves, and jalapeño slices. You can place some sea salt on the side to taste.
Serve with tortilla chips.
4. Citrus-Cured Ceviche
For this ceviche with colorful bell peppers, you can use whichever fresh white fish you can get. But, chef Ian Tenzer, of Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen & Bar in San Diego, California, recommends going with fluke, rockfish, or wild bass. The dish is simple and easy for home chefs to execute.
Dice bell peppers, fish, and red onion. Finely chop the cilantro.
Leaving out the salt, toasted ground cumin, and toasted ground coriander, combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.
Gradually incorporate salt, toasted ground cumin, and toasted ground coriander; adjust to your tasting preferences.
Let marinate for 1 hour, stirring at 30 minutes to let flavors incorporate evenly.
5. Folktale Ceviche
Before you start dicing your fresh fish, put it in the freezer for five minutes to firm it up so you can cut it into more uniform pieces, suggests Chef Todd Fisher, from Folktale Winery and Vineyards in Carmel, California. He also salts and sugars the fish once it’s cut to gently cure it, drawing out excess water that can dilute the flavors. “Watermelon radish makes a nice low-carb option to scoop and enjoy the ceviche,” he says.
Servings: 3-4 Prep time: 30-40 minutes
1 pound local rock cod, snapper, or halibut filet (whichever is local and fresh)
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoon extra fine sugar
1 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon toasted chili flakes
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon toasted coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon toasted cumin seed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 red Fresno chilies, sliced
1 small Persian cucumber, diced small
1 medium white onion, diced small
1 cup cilantro leaves
How to make it:
Place your fresh fish fillets in the freezer for 5-10 minutes, Remove from freezer and dice fish into half-inch cubes. Put fish in a non-reactive mixing bowl and sprinkle with salt and sugar, then toss to coat. Let sit for 10 minutes, pour off excess water.
Add the lime juice and toss to coat. In a mortar and pestle, grind chili flakes, sea salt, coriander, and cumin seeds into a coarse powder. Sprinkle over the fish and mix well. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Add the olive oil and remaining ingredients except cilantro leaves. Mix well and set in the refrigerator until ready to serve. (Note: It should be served soon; ceviche loses its appeal after six hours, according to Fisher). Serve cold, topped with cilantro leaves and tortilla chips or watermelon radish.