Just hearing the word “ceviche” opens our appetite and transports us to Lima, Peru where this fabulous dish originated. But, what is it that makes it so brilliant since it is only a union of good, fresh fish and above all lime from the Peruvian north? With a mixture of flavorings it can make whoever tastes it delirious with its flavor.
For many years, ceviche has been a tradition in Peru. But it was not always prepared as it is today. This dish has passed through a series of modifications until it consolidated in the form we know today.
At first the fish was left to marinate in spices all day long.
There was a custom that families in Lima during their summers would prepare ceviche in the morning and then go and enjoy the beach. When they returned the would sit at the family table and enjoy their ceviche. What happened was that the lime, when mixed with the fish and left for many hours transformed the fish’s fresh and soft texture into something hard tough and dry, more like a boiled fish.
However, with the migration of a Japanese colony to Peru, ceviche changed. In Japanese gastronomy preparing and eating raw fish is well known. The techniques were applied to ceviche and the result was amazing. With just three minutes of marinating in the lime juice and flavorings an unbelievably fresh dish filled with flavor resulted. With the addition of boiled corn, fresh lettuce and boiled sweet potato the marvel of contemporary Peruvian ceviche appeared.
Ceviche is prepared in many countries of South America but each does it in a different way. They add other ingredients such as tomato, avocado, or various tubers or fruits. They also marinate the fish in a different type of lime or in the juice of a different citrus fruit.
If they make ceviche in other countries then we should ask why Peruvians claim their’s is the best? The answer is that it is because Peru has a very diverse geography with many micro-climates that permit a good harvest of any product. With the great fisheries off Peru´s coast, Peruvians have a great diversity of shellfish and fish to choose from. To these is added the juice from the unique lime grown only in the north of Peru, where the climate and land produce a lime with the perfect balance of acidity and flavor. There is no place better.
With these ingredients, Peruvian cooks give free rein to their culinary creativity and create a diversity of dishes from sea food. These include ceviche, of course, but also dishes that derive from it, such as tiradito (fine slices of fish marinated in lime juice and yellow ají paste), ceviche with shell fish, ceviche with black clams (conchas negras–anadara tuberculosa), and many more. Each of these dishes has its own identity but they all come from our famous ceviche.
The reception of this dish was enthusiastic. For many years now those chefs who are most representative of fine Peruvian gastronomy demonstrate the dish in other countries, such as the Untied States, Italy, Spain, France and many other countries where haute cuisine has a presence so that the whole world will come to know Peruvian gastronomy. As a result, the most famous chefs of the world, such as Ferran Adriá–the celebrated and award winning chef, agree in what is known to Peruvian cooks. You do not need advanced techniques to obtain incredible flavor in order to conquer the best palates of the world. The ingredients make the difference.
The amazing welcome given to Peruvian food all over the world has led Peru to celebrate ceviche and other dishes in its largest gastronomic festival, Mistura, which takes place every August.
Today there is no excuse to not eat a good ceviche no matter where you are. In all the world’s continents you can find chefs well trained in Peruvian ceviche. They will thrill you with the flavor of their food.