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Ceviche is the national dish of Peru. Simply fresh seafood “cooked” in citrus juice. In Peru it is generally accompanied with corn and squash (pumpkin). If you are after a light, healthy appetizer, then Peruvian ceviche should be on your radar. And another bonus, it is dead simple to make.
Ceviche is common and very good throughout Central America, particularly Panama, as well as in South America, Chile in particular. But in Peru the bar is raised, it is simply brilliant. You will find it everywhere and you will look forward to it from about mid-afternoon on, along with a Pisco Sour!
Which country do you think has the world’s best cuisine? Thailand? France? They both come to mind. Would you consider Peru in that list? Maybe not, but you might be surprised.
Peruvian Ceviche, a Highlight of the World’s Best Cuisine
Long regarded as the best cuisine on the South American continent, even my Chilean friends admitted that, Peru punches well above its weight on the world scene. Did you know Peru has been voted the world’s best culinary destination three years running from 2012 to 2014? Does that surprise you?
It shouldn’t when you consider that Peru is a country that truly has been at the crossroads of the world for a very long time.
We can all probably guess there is a strong Spanish influence. But prior to the arrival of the Spanish, the Incan empire spread from southern Colombia all the way down to southern Chile and included large parts of modern-day Bolivia and north west Argentina. In addition, there are strong African, Italian, Chinese and Japanese influences. Remember President Fujimori? A Peruvian of Japanese descent, he was the President of Peru for the whole of the 1990’s.
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Fusion has therefore been around in Peru far longer than when it became a trendy cuisine term used in the West. And there is no greater example of that than Peruvian ceviche. The Japanese influence is obvious when you think about it. With ample stocks of good seafood and nutritious vegetables it is a supreme combination. And a word or two about Peruvian vegetables and grains.
Not only is Peru famous for its quinoa and potatoes (more than 2000 varieties), but also for its corn (55 varieties of all different colors and shapes). Until we traveled to Peru, the corn we most commonly encounter is a version of what is known as sweet corn, so popular in the US, Australia and other places in the west. But let me tell you something, in the home of corn, they don’t eat sweet corn.
As a Peruvian explained to me. Sweet corn was bred in the west. All of the goodness was removed from the corn and replaced with sugar to make it more popular! There is basically no goodness in sweet corn.
I was a little startled by this claim and I have to say the first time I tasted the ubiquitous choclo corn in Peru, I didn’t really care for it! However, after a month in Peru, I was almost craving it. Savory, not sweet at all, and filling, it is good for you. In Peruvian ceviche it is just fabulous.
Alas it is difficult to find anything else but sweet corn in Australia and the US (apart from the odd farmer’s market maybe). But if you can get your hands on any other type of corn then use it instead of sweet corn for this dish. Who knows you may become a convert to heirloom corn varieties.
Great Peruvian Ceviche to Try in Miraflores (Lima)
If you are fortunate enough to be in Peru or are going there some time in the future and you are including Lima in your itinerary, then you are in for a treat if you wish to try great Peruvian ceviche.
We had a memorable meal in Miraflores, a rather up-market, seaside suburb of Lima at a restaurant called Costazul Seafood.
I cannot speak highly enough of this restaurant. It is a small, family-run affair, certainly not in a flashy building, quite the opposite. The owner, Carlos, will help you select your meal. It is more than just a great place for ceviche, all of the seafood is excellent. Trust me you will have a very pleasant lunch or dinner at this place.
But for those of you at home, you can easily make your own Peruvian ceviche. You just need access to very fresh fish. Our recipe below uses fish fillets, but in Central and South America we also enjoyed shellfish in our ceviche. We have also enjoyed lime juice instead of lemon juice.
Experiment with it, you won’t be disappointed. And while you are waiting for your fish to “cook” in the lemon or lime juice, enjoy the national drink of Peru, the Pisco Sour.
|Servings||Prep Time||Passive Time|
- 2 ears corn
- 2 star anise
- 1/2 lb butternut squash (pumpkin) cut into medium chunks
- 1 lb fish portions white boneless; e.g. sea bass, swordfish, snapper*
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 onions, salad (red) thinly sliced
- 1 tsp salt, ground sea
- 1 red chili, long Asian style thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp cilantro (coriander) chopped
- 3 lemons juice only
- Boil the corn with the star anise for about 15 minutes or until cooked. Allow to cool completely. Remove the kernels with a sharp knife.
- In another pot, boil the squash. Allow to cool completely and then cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) cubes.
- Wash and clean your fresh fish with water. Cut into pieces approximately 1/3 inch (1 cm) cubes
- Rub the crushed garlic into a non-metallic bowl. Then add the fish and some of the onion. Add the salt, chili, cilantro and then squeeze the lemon juice over the fish. Let sit 2 or 3 minutes and then taste for seasoning. Add salt if necessary. Add the remaining onion.
- Place squash slices and corn kernels around the outside of the plate. Spoon the ceviche mix into the center. Spoon some of the residual lemon juice over the ceviche.
* You need fish that is fresh for this dish.
That looks amazing! We often make a very simple ceviche but I will have to try your recipe soon.
Tobias, any ceviche is good. I love how light it is. Thanks for your comment.
This looks so delicious! I had no idea that traditionally ceviche includes squash and corn. I am looking forward to trying this!
Yes it’s a bit of a surprise. But it does add a lot of color to the dish. Thanks for your comment.
Ceviche is one of my favorites and these look AMAZING!! Stunning photos too! Love your blog 🙂
Thank you very much Mahy. We enjoy the blog, it is a lot of fun.
Ali @ Home & Plate
I wouldn’t have thought to pair ceviche with butternut squash but the flavor combo sounds amazing. Love the sweet and spicy!
Indeed and in Peru it is more savory again as they do use sweet corn. It’s an easy appetizer to make in just a few minutes. Thanks for your comment.
The woman that told me my recipes aren’t authentic Peruvian is making pisco sours and lomo saltado for us Saturday night… I’ve not tried either one, but as much as I love Peruvian flavored, I’m sure to enjoy it!
Well I would just sit back, relax have a pisco sour and enjoy lomo saltado. You will love it. Maybe she will serve ceviche as well? Thanks for your comment.
We love ceviche and all things Peruvian! Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe!
Yes one of Peru’s great gifts to the world along with a bunch of other delights. Thanks for your comment.
Emma @ Supper in the Suburbs
First confession – I had no idea quinoa was from Peru!!! Is that really bad of me? I eat loads of it. Ceviche on the other hand is one of my favourite Peruvian dishes! I’ve never made it at home though.
Emma, I think a lot of times we don’t really know where food originated. And in Peru’s case I am not sure they have done a good job of promoting their native foods! Most people couldn’t tell you anything that is from Peru, okay may be a Pisco Sour 🙂
I never had ceviche but I will definitely have to look up more info about it. Your dish looks delicious!
Hi April. Well it is simple to make and eaten everywhere in Central and South America. Thanks for your comment.
Great post Mark! My sister-in-law is Peruvian – from Lima – and it’s always a treat when we go to Newport Beach, California and she makes ceviche for us! I have fallen in love with the food, and posted a couple of my own Peruvian-inspired dishes. I was told recently by a Peruvian they are not “authentic.” We have to make due, and go with available ingredients. My “thing” is creating recipes using flavor profiles (not authenticity), and Peru has amazing flavors! We’re hoping to do the Inca trail in 2017. I can’t wait!
Hi Tamara. Lucky you having a Peruvian sister-in-law. I think this recipe is authentic, especially the addition of the corn and squash. But generally, I get inspiration from what we eat overseas and then, like you, publish a recipe that is in sympathy with the original. Thanks for your comment.
Rebekah | Kitchen Gidget
I finally live in an area that has fresh fish and I’m so excited to try making this ceviche at home!
Once you have tried it, you will keep making it. So refreshing and light. Thanks for your comment.
Tracy | Baking Mischief
This looks delicious. I’ve never had ceviche, but now I’m super curious to try it. I really enjoyed your write up on the culinary history of Peru. I had no idea it was so well regarded by foodies! It sounds like an amazing place to visit.
Tracy, the food is a real melting pot of cuisines. A great place to visit too. Thanks for your comment.
I have never tried a dish like this…thank you for such easy to follow instructions 🙂
My pleasure Sandi. FYI, it doesn’t taste like you are eating raw fish, nor from a consistency point of view. The citrus does “cook” the fish. Thanks for your comment.
This recipe looks delicious! Your beautiful photos make me wish I could visit this amazing country. Gorgeous! You are a wonderful writer – I love all the info. about Peru.
Thank you so much Christine, I appreciate that. I do enjoy writing and like the combination of travel and food. Thanks for your comment.
munchies and munchkins
I’ve never made or tried ceviche so this is really interesting! Great post.
Fun and easy. Give it a try. Thanks for your comment.
Christine | Vermilion Roots
What an interesting dish. I love discovering new foods from different cultures. It’s full of delicious surprises!
Yes Christine, that is a good description of this recipe. Full of surprises. Thanks for your comment.
Loved your description of Peru and the ceviche recipe
Thank you Sandhya, we loved Peru. The people, the food and the sights were all great.
Krissy @ Pretty Wee Things
I still haven’t taken a liking to raw fish but I’ll have to give this recipe a try (when not pregnant) as it sounds simple and the flavours sounds great. My husbands family make a raw fish salad the traditional Islander way which is similar but with coconut cream. Xx
Krissy. Honestly, the first time you try ceviche, you will be hooked. Japanese sushi is also raw (without being “cooked” in citrus). The key is having a good supplier. Thanks for your comment.
I would love to visit Peru. Since that isn’t going to happen anytime soon, I’ll be happy to have a taste of Peru in my home with this ceviche.
And easy to make Christie, there are no special ingredients in this recipe. Thanks for your comment.
We are en route to Costa Rica where I fell in complete love with ceviche several years ago. I had no idea it what a Peruvian dish but I’m not surprised as we adore food from Peru. Thanks for this informative post, we will be making this soon! Beautiful photos (and site.)
We also enjoyed the food in Peru. Even people in Chile comment how good the food is from there. We noticed there was more emphasis on vegetables in Peru than countries further to the south.
Thanks for your kind comments about our site. We do like the combination of food and travel and I find the history of various cultures and their food, very interesting.