Ceviche—a tangy dish of raw fish or seafood marinated in citrus juice—is a real crowd pleaser. Ceviche (also spelled cebiche and seviche) is light yet packed with flavor and comes in so many varieties that there's a perfect version for just about everyone. But do you know the origins of this Latin American dish? Here are some facts about ceviche you might not know.
1. Many countries can claim it
While Peru is often cited as the original home of ceviche—and it's certainly a signature dish of the country—ceviche variations also come from Mexico, Ecuador, and elsewhere in Central and South America. And just to further confuse you: some cooking authorites argue that ceviche actually descends from Southeast Asia.
2. Acid is a key ingredient
Acidic citrus juice, such as lemon or lime, is a key ingredient in classic ceviche. The acid in the juice cures the fish, giving it a firm texture and opaque appearance similar to cooked fish. Of course, the citrus is also an important flavor component of the dish.
3. Tiger's milk is not the milk of a tiger
If you don't do dairy, don't worry if you see the words "leche de tigre," or tiger's milk, in a ceviche description on a menu. Leche de tigre is the Peruvian term for the citrus-based marinade the fish is cured in. In addition to lime juice, it often contains chiles, garlic, onions, cilantro, and ginger. At Mission Ceviche in New York City, you can choose from four varieties of tiger's milk: classic Lima-style, aji amarillo, nikkei (with coconut, yuzu, and soy sauce), and passion fruit.
4. There are tons of of ceviche variations
Poke around some menus and you'll find dozens of ceviche varieties, with all sorts of fish and seafood, as well as different add-ins, such as traditional giant corn or corn nuts, onions, tomatoes, sweet potato, and cilantro, as well as fruits like mango, pineapple, apple, and avocado. For example, Alma Cocina in San Francisco has a traditional ceviche with fish, shrimp, octopus, red onions, and choclo (large, chewy corn kernels), as well as a ceviche inspired by Peruvian-Chinese fusion cuisine that contains fish, shrimp, cucumbers, tamarind, soy sauce, scallions, cancha (corn nuts), and crispy wontons. And Divino Ceviche in Miami has more than a dozen types of ceviche!
5. It's healthy
Ceviche's main ingredients—fish and vegetables—are two incredibly healthy foods most of us need to eat more of. And there's nothing unhealthy added to most ceviches. Just keep in mind that though the fish in ceviche may seem cooked, it's still technically raw, so if you have a reason for avoiding raw seafood, you might want to steer clear of ceviche.
6. It can even be vegetarian
Though perhaps not traditional, all-vegetable ceviches made without fish or seafood have been popping up on menus. Extraordinary Fruits in Spring Valley, California, serves cauliflower ceviche, for example.
7. It's not the only marinated fish dish you should try
If you've tried all the ceviche you can find and you're still craving cured fish, there are other dishes to satisfy your hankering. Keep your eyes peeled for Mexican aguachile (fish marinated with lime and chiles) and Filipino kinilaw (fish marinated in vinegar) on menus. If you happen to be in Los Angeles, you can find aguachiles with shrimp, cucumber, red onion, tomato, and avocado (as well as several types of ceviche) at Ostioneria Colima. Also in Los Angeles, Tikifish serves kinilaw with rockfish, coconut chile vinaigrette, passion fruit, chiles, cucumber, cilantro, red onion, and tomato.
If the ceviche dishes above have you craving Latin American food, head to the Uber Eats app to satisfy your appetite today.