March 25, 2010 § 3 Comments
The first time I ever had ceviche was the first day I was in Ecuador. It’s been about 20 years now, but I remember a friend of mine taking me to a restaurant up on a hill in Quito. He ordered us each a bowl of shrimp ceviche along with a couple of ice cold beers. We received our order the bowl of some sort of Ecuadorian like colored shrimp dish which at the time I thought was something between a shrimp cocktail and a shrimp soup. The plates were accompanied by pop-corn, toasted corn kernels resembling a soft corn nut, bread, aji (a local hot sauce) and ketchup. From the very first bite I was hooked. I love ceviche!
For those of you who don’t know what ceviche is, think of it as a South American take on shashmi. It’s a raw fish or seafood that is “cooked” or pickled in fresh citrus juice. Ceviche is a typical dish breakfast or lunch dish in both Ecuador and Peru though in recent years eating Ceviche has grown in popularity throughout Latin America and can be found on restaurant menus around the world. The preparation depends not only on what country you are in but in what part of the country.
The origin of ceviche is something of debate – it’s thought to go back some 2000 years to fishermen of the Moche Culture in the northernmost portion of Peru. During times of famine they would prepare the raw fish with lime and chilis or chicha (a local fermented beverage – and another story), this new dish was enough to sustain themselves. The Moches would trade their fish for spices and vegetables of their neighboring cultures and the preparation and consumption of Ceviche moved throughout Ecuador and Peru. The name is thought to be a corruption of the indigenous Quechua word siwichi, or the Spanish escabeche, meaning marinade. By the time the Spanish arrived there were many counts of local people eating this dish – the Spanish themselves took up the preparation and would send the recipe in letters to friends and family around the world.
How you ceviche is prepared depends on not only what country you are in, but what part of that country and what fish they are preparing – ceviche can be made from a variety of fish and shell fish. The fish version is made with raw fish where as the shellfish are cooked first.
In Ecuador ceviche comes in more of a soup-like form than in Peru. It’s served in a bowl with the “Leche de Tigre” the water or sauce in which the ceviche was prepared. Dishes along the coast are typically served with mustard, ketchup, aji, chifles and or patacones. If you’ve had too much to drink the night before in Ecuador, one thing is guaranteed you will probably have ceviche the next morning.
In Peru the ceviche is a fish platter served with other items. I was recently in Mancora, in the heart of which was once the Moche Empire. We had ceviche lunch on the beach which was absolutely fabulous. The ceviche was a seafood platter. The fish was a cut into bite sized pieces marinated in a sauce of lime juice, salt, garlic, chili, cilantro and onions. The fish was placed in the middle of a large platter a small amount of the sauce put on top. Unlike Ecuadorian Ceviche the sauce contained no tomatoes. The ceviche’s was surrounded by pieces cooked potatoes, sweet potatoes, maize, tomatoes and corn on the cob. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
If you are visiting Ecuador or Peru – I highly suggest trying the local dish that has passed the test of time and enjoying a fresh ceviche.
Ecuadorian Shrimp Ceviche
- 1 pound shrimp
- 1 large tomato cut into cubes
- ½ medium white onion cut into long strips
- 1 Red Peppers or jalapenos (optional)
- ¾ cups fresh lime juice
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- ¼ cup ketchup or tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 cup Cilantro
Clean and Shell 1 pound of Shrimp – put shells aside to use in the water
Place the shimp shells into 2 cups of water along with a table spoon of salt and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the shrimp shells turn pink. Remove from heat. You want to strain the water away from the shells – disguarding the shells and preserving the water to use to cook your ceviche.
Place your cleaned shrimp into your warm, shimp flavored water and bring to a boil cooking the shrimp until they are a bright pink color. Do not overcook your shrimp!
Place the shrimp and the water into a bowl to cool.
In a separate bowl combine your onions, tomatoes, cilantro and optional peppers toss together. Combine the water and shrimp to the mixture. Toss the items together then season with the fresh lime and orange juice and tomato sauce or ketchup, oil and optional mustard. Mix together tossing lightly and serve.
- 1 Kg Whitefish (Sea Bass or other fish)
- 1 clove (s) Minced Garlic
- 1 pepper cored, cut into strips
- 1 cup (s) Lemon Juice
- 1 large white onion, cut lengthwise
Wash the fish and cut into squares. Season with lemon juice, garlic, red pepper, salt and pepper. Allow standing for an hour. Add the onion, pepper, celery and coriander. Allow one hour more. Red pepper to taste. Salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped celery and cilantro to taste. Serve with lettuce, corn and potatoes.
For more recipes from Ecuador see Ecuadorian Recipes page