If there is one thing I’ve learned about Peru it is that Peruvians love Ceviche. In Mexico, and those states in the US close to Mexico or with a larger Mexican population like Chicago, you will find a taquería - a place that specializes in serving tacos. In Peru you will find a cevicheria, and for good reason.
Yet, before I detail you the delights of cebiche (no I didn´t mispell it, it can be spelled both ways), let me tell you a tale of when I first met my wife Aiko….
I was much more familiar with Mexican food than Peruvian, I´m sure the same can be said for most Americans. While I was trying to woo this lovely lady from Peru I asked her what her favorite dishes were, and her response was ceviche. Aha! Ceviche, not only do I know what that is but I have a recipe that was given to me from a college professor I had befriended. I invited her over for dinner and prepared a sea food pasta alfredo and ceviche. I diced tomatoes, onions, and cilantro, mixed in shrimp, fresh lime juice and beer. It truly was a dinner to behold and I plopped down the bowl of ceviche in front of her as she sat down ready to eat. Unveiling it as if it was the Mona Lisa herself. Aiko looked at the dish, then at me, she look at the dish once again and exclaimed…”what is it?”
Huh? Slightly befuddled but still grinning ear to ear I replied, “ceviche.” I think my voice even did that announcer voice thing as if to exclaim it emphatically. There was one problem, that light of familiarity and enjoyment never reached her face instead all I heard was, “ceviche?” with that questioning inflection that really isn’t a question but instead more of a statement like, “try again.”
No, the ceviche of Peru is not the same and I have been reminded many a times since I’ve come to Lima. The ceviche of Peru is a mixture of white fish, my cousin says she use sea bass, lime juice, red onions, aji amarillo (which is a pepper not really found in the US at all), and rocoto (another pepper not easily found in the US). My sister in law likes her ceviche with a little bit of mayonnaise and my cousin uses ginger and her secret ingredient (this is between us, so SHHH!!!!) is a little bit of milk. This secret ingredient might make more sense of the name of the liquid left over, called leche de tigre (tiger’s milk) which is not only delicious but supposedly good for your health and hangovers. This dish is usually also served with a little bit of corn on the cob (although a completely different corn then you can find in the US) and sweet potatoes, usually boiled and then placed in the oven with a little bit of honey to finish it off.
One delicious, although pricey for ceviche standards, cevicheria that I’ve been to is cevicheria Señor Limón which is where the photos come from. If you want t a good way to amek ceviche in the US, head over to Bacon Magic and check out the recipe over there. Although, my cousin advised a pre-step one based on her recipe first you salt the fish a little before you soak it in water.
Happy travels, and happy eating