|Course||Main course, appetizer|
|Place of origin||Peru|
|Serving temperature||Cold; cooked or raw (marinated)|
|Main ingredients||Fish, lime, lemon, onion, chili pepper, coriander|
Ceviche, also cebiche, seviche, or sebiche (Spanish pronunciation: [seˈβitʃe]) is a South American seafood dish originated in Peru, typically made from fresh raw fish cured in fresh citrus juices, most commonly lemon or lime, and spiced with ají, chili peppers or other seasonings including chopped onions, salt, and coriander.
Because the dish is eaten raw, and not cooked with heat, it must be prepared fresh and consumed immediately to minimize the risk of food poisoning. Ceviche is often eaten as an appetizer; if eaten as a main dish it is usually accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavours, such as sweet potato, lettuce, maize, avocado, or cooking banana.
The dish is popular in the Pacific coastal regions of western Latin America. The origin of ceviche is Peru, where it is considered a national dish. The technique of macerating raw fish and meat in vinegar, citrus and spices (escabeche) was brought to the Americas from Spain and is linked to the Muslim heritage in Spanish cuisine. However, archeological records suggest that something resembling ceviche may have been consumed in Peru nearly two thousand years ago. The dominant position Lima held through four centuries as the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru allowed for popular dishes such as ceviche to be brought to other Spanish colonies in the region, and in time they became a part of local cuisine by incorporating regional flavors and styles.
The first documented evidence of the term ceviche is from 1820, in the song "La Chicha", sung by Peruvian soldiers.
According to the Royal Spanish Academy, the word has the same etymology as the Spanish term escabeche, which derives from Mozarabic izkebêch, in turn descending from Andalusian Arabic assukkabáǧ, which also derives from Classical Arabic sakbāj (سكباج, meaning meat cooked in vinegar). It is ultimately from the unattested Middle Persian *sikbāg, from sik ("vinegar") and *bāg ("soup"), which also yielded the Persian word sekbā (سکبا, a soup made with meat and vinegar). Further hypotheses base the origin of the term on escabeche, Spanish for pickle, or it is simply a variation of the word siwichi.
The name of the dish may be spelled variously as cebiche, ceviche, seviche or sebiche, but the more common spelling in Peru is ceviche, with v which is an alternative spelling accepted by the Royal Spanish Academy. However, other local terms, such as cerbiche and serviche, are still used as variations to name the dish.
Various explanations of ceviche's origin exist, with Peruvian nationalism favoring a Pre-Hispanic origin. According to some historic sources from Peru, ceviche originated among the Moche, a coastal civilization that began to flourish in the area of current-day northern Peru nearly 2000 years ago. The Moche apparently used the fermented juice from the local banana passionfruit. Recent investigations further show that during the Inca Empire, fish was marinated with chicha, an Andean fermented beverage. Different chronicles also report that along the Peruvian coast prior to the arrival of Spaniards, fish was consumed with salt and ají.
Nevertheless, most historians agree that ceviche originated during colonial times in the area of present-day Peru. They propose that the predecessor to the dish was brought to Peru by Andalusian women of Moorish background who accompanied the Conquistadors and that this dish eventually evolved into what nowadays is considered ceviche. The Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio further explains that the dominant position that Lima held throughout four centuries as the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru allowed for popular dishes such as ceviche to be brought to other Spanish colonies in the region and to eventually become a part of local cuisine by incorporating regional flavors and styles.
The Peruvian origin of the dish is widely agreed upon, including the Chilean Christopher Carpentier and the Spaniard Ferran Adrià, who in an interview stated, "Cebiche was born in Peru, and so the authentic and genuine [cebiche] is Peruvian."
Preparation and variants
Ceviche is marinated in a citrus-based mixture, with lemons and limes being the most commonly used. In addition to adding flavor, the citric acid causes the proteins in the seafood to become denatured, appearing to be cooked. (However, acid marinades will not kill bacteria or parasitic worms, unlike the heat of cooking.) Traditional-style ceviche was marinated for about three hours. Modern-style ceviche, popularized in the 1970s, usually has a very short marinating period. With the appropriate fish, it can marinate in the time it takes to mix the ingredients, serve, and carry the ceviche to the table.
Most Latin American countries have given ceviche its own touch of individuality by adding their own particular garnishes.
In Peru, ceviche has been declared to be part of the country's national heritage and has even had a holiday declared in its honor. The classic Peruvian ceviche is composed of chunks of raw fish, marinated in freshly squeezed key lime, with sliced onions, chili peppers, salt and pepper. Corvina or cebo (sea bass) was the fish traditionally used. The mixture was traditionally marinated for several hours and served at room temperature, with chunks of corn-on-the-cob, and slices of cooked sweet potato. Regional or contemporary variations include garlic, fish bone broth, minced Peruvian ají limo, or the Andean chili rocoto, toasted corn or cancha and yuyo (seaweed). A specialty of Trujillo is ceviche prepared from shark (tollo or tojo). Lenguado (sole) is often used in Lima. The modern version of Peruvian ceviche, which is similar to the method used in making Japanese sashimi, consists of fish marinated for a few minutes and served promptly. It was developed in the 1970s by Peruvian-Japanese chefs including Dario Matsufuji and Humberto Sato. Many Peruvian cevicherías serve a small glass of the marinade (as an appetizer) along with the fish, which is called leche de tigre or leche de pantera.
In Ecuador, the shrimp ceviche is sometimes made with tomato sauce for a tangy taste. The Manabí style, made with lime juice, salt and the juice provided by the cooked shrimp itself is very popular. Occasionally, ceviche is made with various types of local shellfish, such as black clam (cooked or raw), oysters (cooked or raw), spondylus (raw), barnacles (cooked percebes), among others mostly cooked. It is served in a bowl with toasted corn kernels as a side dish (fried green plantain chunks called "patacones", thinly sliced plantain chips called chifle, and popcorn are also typical ceviche side dishes). In some regions, ceviche is served with rice on the side. Well cooked Sea bass (corvina), octopus, and crab ceviches are also common in Ecuador. In all ceviches, lime juice and salt are ubiquitous ingredients.
In Chile, ceviche is often made with fillets of halibut or Patagonian toothfish, and marinated in lime and grapefruit juices, as well as finely minced garlic and red chili peppers and often fresh mint and cilantro are added.
North and Central America and the Caribbean
In Mexico and some parts Central America, it is served either in cocktail cups with tostadas, salted crackers, or as a tostada topping and taco filling. In Mexico, when served in a cup with tomato sauce, it is called a ceviche cocktail. Although this cocktail is made from the "dry" ceviche recipe, this presentation is rather unusual outside of some specific areas, and in most areas of Mexico the ceviche cocktail is very popular. Shrimp, octopus, squid, tuna, and mackerel are also popular bases for Mexican ceviche. The marinade ingredients include salt, lime, onion, chili peppers, avocado, and cilantro (coriander). Cut olives and a bit of tomatoes are often added to the preparation (ketchup is not used because it adds sugar and is not fresh).
In El Salvador and Nicaragua one popular ceviche recipe is ceviche de concha negra ("black conch ceviche"), known in Mexico as pata de mula ("mule's foot"). It is dark, nearly black, with a distinct look and flavor. It is prepared with lime juice, onion, yerba buena, salt, pepper, tomato, Worcestershire sauce, and sometimes picante (any kind of hot sauce or any kind of hot pepper) as desired.
In Nicaragua and Costa Rica, the dish includes marinated fish, lime juice, salt, ground black pepper, finely minced onions, coriander (cilantro) and finely minced peppers. It is usually served in a cocktail glass with a lettuce leaf and soda crackers on the side, as in Mexico. Popular condiments are tomato ketchup, mayonnaise, and tabasco sauce. The fish is typically tilapia or corvina, although mahi-mahi, shark and marlin are also popular.
In Panama, ceviche is prepared with lemon juice, chopped onion, celery, cilantro, assorted peppers, and sea salt. Ceviche de corvina (white sea bass) is very popular and is served as an appetizer in most local restaurants. It is also commonly prepared with octopus, shrimp, and squid, or served with little pastry shells called "canastitas."
In the Caribbean, ceviche is often made using mahi-mahi prepared with lime juice, salt, onion, green pepper, habanero, and a touch of allspice. Squid and tuna are also popular. In Puerto Rico and other places in the Caribbean, the dish is prepared with coconut milk. In The Bahamas and south Florida, a conch ceviche known as conch salad is very popular. It is prepared by marinating diced fresh conch in lime with chopped onions, celery, and bell pepper. Diced pequin pepper and/or scotch bonnet pepper is often added for spice. In south Florida, it is common to encounter a variation to which tomato juice has been added.
The raw seafood dish kinilaw from the Philippines is sometimes referred to as "Philippine ceviche" in English, though it is an indigenous pre-colonial dish. Unlike Latin American ceviches which is restricted to using citrus juices, kinilaw can use a variety of acidic denaturing ingredients. The most commonly used is vinegar (usually coconut vinegar), but it can also use other acidic fruit juices (commonly native calamansi or key limes, but can also be other native sour fruits like carambola, green mangoes, binukaw, or bilimbi) in addition to or instead of vinegar. It also sometimes adds other ingredients to neutralize the fishy taste, like extracts from tabon-tabon nuts, mangrove bark, or young coconuts. It is indigenous to the Philippines, with direct archeological evidence dating back to the 10th to 13th century AD. It was also described by Spanish explorers to the Philippines, with the earliest mention being in the Vocabulario de la lengua tagala (1613) as cqinicqilao and cquilao.
Kinilaw typically use tanigue (Spanish mackerels), malasugi (marlins or swordfish), and anchovies. The raw fish are cubed and then marinated in vinegar, souring agents, salt, and spices like black pepper, ginger, onion, and chili peppers (commonly siling labuyo or bird's eye chili). Variants can also use other ingredients, like shrimp, squid, clams, oysters, crabs, sea urchin roe, seaweed, shipworms (tamilok), vegetables, and cooked meat (usually goat meat, pork, beef, or chicken).
In the Northern Mariana Islands, kelaguen, is another ceviche-type dish among the Chamorro people. It is derived from and closely resembles the Philippine kilawin. It is believed to have originated from Filipino settlers during the Manila galleon trade in the Spanish period. Like the Philippine kilawin, the Chamorro dish is also not restricted to fish or seafood, and can use cooked meat (commonly chicken or beef), but it is influenced by the Latin American version in that they exclusively use citrus juices. It is usually served with titiya (Chamorro tortillas) during fiestas.
A similar dish to the Philippine kinilaw, is the 'ota 'ika found throughout most of Polynesia. It is made from cubed raw fish marinated in citrus and coconut milk. In Hawaii, a descendant dish is the poke, though it does not use citrus fruits or vinegar, instead using salt, seaweed, and candlenut.
Bad sanitary conditions in its preparation may lead to illness. Aside from contaminants, raw seafood can also be the vector for various pathogens, viral and bacterial, as well as larger parasitic creatures. According to the 2009 Food Code published by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and more recent studies, specific microbial hazards in ceviche include Anisakis simplex, Diphyllobothrium spp., Pseudoterranova decipiens and Pseudoterranova cattani, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Anisakiasis is a zoonotic disease caused by the ingestion of larval nematodes in raw seafood dishes such as ceviche. The Latin American cholera outbreaks in the 1990s may have been attributed to the consumption of raw cholera-infested seafood that was eaten as ceviche.
The American Dietetic Association urges women to avoid ceviche during pregnancy due to the health risks it proposes if not prepared properly.
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