I recently had the pleasure of demoing how to prepare ceviche to a group of foodie friends, and for many it would be their first taste of this dish, so I wanted to make a delicious impression. The recipe I chose was simple and focused on light, spicy and refreshing ingredients inspired by the fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines — ideal for a hot summer day in Northern California.
Though ceviche has been prepared in Peru since the time of the Incas, the use of limes was introduced by the Spanish. And the acid in the lime juice “cooks” the fish in addition to providing a tangy flavor. But the Japanese immigrants that arrived 150 years ago added their touch to the ceviche through their profound appreciation for fresh seafood and by using ingredients like ginger.
I started with a base recipe from Gaston Acurio’s La Cocina Nikkei, but all week long tried different fish, and different combinations of hot peppers from Bi-Rite Market in The Mission. In the end, I was very happy with the flavor and texture of a local halibut and I was impressed that a combination of California grown red fresno and habanero hot peppers gave the dish the right spicy touch.
As I prepared the ceviche in front of my friends, it was really delightful to see their expressions as they watched the fish being cooked by the lime juice. In just a few minutes it was ready to serve, and judging by the sounds of delight after each bite, the ceviche had the desired effect — a perfect ending to my week long ceviche adventures in honor of National Day of Ceviche.
- 1 lb. halibut, cut into bite sized cubes
- salt to taste
- 2 teaspoons ginger, grated
- 1/4 cup celery, diced
- 1 small red fresno pepper, diced
- 1 small habanero pepper, diced
- 1/2 red onion, julienned
- juice from 10-12 limes
- cilantro for garnish, chopped
There are many different ceviche variations, but the key is fresh ingredients and 4 simple steps: preparation, seasoning, cooking, and garnishing.
- Preparation: Wash and cut the fish into small bite size pieces. Grate the ginger and dice the celery. Slice the hot peppers in half, wash, and remove veins and seeds before dicing. Julienne the red onion and wash three times with warm running water. Chop the cilantro. Cut the limes and squeeze the juice into a mason jar.
- Seasoning: Place the fish pieces in a glass bowl, season with salt and add the ginger, celery, hot peppers and onion. Mix and toss using a spoon.
- Cooking: Slowly pour the lime juice over the fish, a little at a time, while tossing using a spoon. Toss for a few minutes until fish becomes white and opaque.
- Garnishing: Add the cilantro, and toss using a spoon.
- Serve immediately.
When making ceviche, I strive to use a local white fish from a fishmonger I trust. And it’s important to take the time to wash and clean the fish before prepping and cooking with it. The acid in the lime juice will cook the ceviche, but in order to prevent from making the dish too acidic, you only need to use a small amount. As you add the lime juice, stop before the level of the juice in the bowl covers the ceviche. This dish will work well with different hot peppers, for example, you can try using a jalapeño instead of red fresno.