The first time I tried ceviche was at Papasito’s when I was in college. The idea of fish cooked only by citrus juice was intriguing, and my older food-wise friends assured me it was tasty. They were right. It was bright, cool, and refreshing. It was perfect on crisp salty tortilla chip.
Since then, I’ve had enough ceviche to know that I wouldn’t order it just anywhere. In fact, I think really good ceviche is hard to come by. Often, it ends up being tough and chewy, which is all wrong. Even at Papasito’s it’s often tough, so it’s been a long time since I ate it there. I don’t know if some restaurants “over cook” it by leaving it in the juice too long, or if some of them actually boil the fish before they cook it in the juices. But good ceviche is fresh and tender and almost melts in your mouth–except it also has the appealing contrasting textures of the crisp onions and creamy avocado. And the zingy citrus juice makes it light and perfect for a hot summer day. Not having to heat up the kitchen also makes it perfect for a hot summer day!
I don’t have an exact recipe, but I can give some tips and suggestions in case you want to make your own batch similar to ours. The most important thing, of course, is freshness. If the seafood section at your grocery store is smelly, you probably don’t want to buy your fish there. We used to buy ours in Houston or Austin, but since our local grocery store recently expanded, they have a much better selection of fish.
There are so many different ingredients that can be used to make ceviche. Below is just the way we’ve been doing it, and we love it.
Basic Fish Ratio:
- 1 part fish (we have been using a white fish like halibut or cod)
- 3/4 part large scallops
- 1/2 part shrimp
When Harper made the last batch of the ceviche, he used 1 pound of cod, 3/4 pound of scallops, and 1/2 of shrimp. It was a huge batch, so I recommend cutting it in half unless you are serving more than two people.
- fresh lemon and lime juice
- rice wine vinegar
- white wine vinegar
- diced onions (red or white)
- diced tomatoes
- chopped cilantro
- diced jalapeno or serrano peppers
- cubed avocado
The tricky part is judging how long until it’s “cooked” to your taste. We usually start tasting it about an hour after it was prepared. If your vinegar or lemon is really acidic, it’s going to cook faster. After you add the acidic ingredients, you’ll see the fish becoming less translucent almost immediately. Make sure you use a fresh fork every time you taste it, and then return it to the refrigerator until you’re ready to taste it again.
The last few times Harper has made it in the evening, we ended up really eating it a few hours after it was prepared, but I liked it even better the next day. I add the cubed avocado to our served portions right before we eat. I think the avocado gets too mushy if you mix it into the whole batch and then end up with some leftovers. Also, we try to eat in within a day or two. It’s best fresh!
I like the pretty pics taken with my real camera, but my iPhone pic really shows the fish to pico ratio better. Harper was adding more vinegar during this tasting, and this shows the entire batch, so the avocado hadn’t been added yet.
I took the “real” pictures the next day to take advantage of natural light.
Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: 24-70 mm f/2.8 G
Focal length: 60 mm
Shutter speed: 1/250