What’s fresh, delicious, and better than sushi? Peruvian ceviche. If you happen to be planning an adventure ride in Peru, tasting ceviche is a must: this dish has been declared part of the Peruvian heritage, and there’s even a national Ceviche Day (June 28) to celebrate this local delicacy.
Origins of Ceviche
Essentially, ceviche (or cebiche) is a dish of raw fish and/or seafood marinated in lime or lemon juice. Recipes differ depending on the region: in some places, ceviche is served with avocadoes and greens, boiled potatoes or sweet potatoes, or Andean maiz (corn). It can be any type of fish from seabass to tuna (or shark – a specialty of Trujillo, a town in Southern Peru) or seafood like octopus or shrimp; sometimes, the marinate is served as an appetizer or a side dish and called leche del tigre (the tiger’s milk). Ceviche is prepared by marinating the fish or seafood in lime juice and pepper for a few hours, and you’ll find this dish everywhere you go in Peru, including the Andean regions and Cuzco.
The origins of ceviche date back to the seventies, and it is heavily influenced by the Japanese cuisine, especially the sashimi; however, ceviche is distinctly Peruvian, and tasting it in local fishers’ villages is an adventure of its own.
Where to Find the Best Ceviche
Lima boasts some of the best ceviche restaurants in the country, but if you want an authentic experience, small towns and villages on the coast are the best places to try it. The towns of Pisco and Paracas have countless ceviche places to choose from, whereas San Juan de Marcona and Lomas, two small fishing villages near Nazca, offer small, family-owned eateries where locals love to hang out. For me, ceviche was best in Mancora (Northern Peru) and Chala (Southern Peru) where there’s no shortage of tiny local eateries and fresh markets for a truly unique experience.
Simple Ceviche Recipe
If you’re not planning to ride Peru any time soon, here’s how to make ceviche at home:
- dice up skinless fresh seabass or other ocean fish
- put the fish in a bowl or jar of fresh lime juice and leave to marinate for 3-4 hours
- add thinly chopped red onion and cilantro
- serve with avocadoes and baked or boiled sweet potatoes.