I have fond memories of the first time I tried ceviche. San Pedro, Belize, May 2010. I was eating lunch with Matt after doing some exploring of the town in a rented golf cart. We got lunch in this little seafood shack right on the beach with beautiful views. Matt was actually the one to order it, but never fear, I ate several bites. We both really enjoyed it. It was fresh, clean, citrusy, and a touch spicy from the habaneros that Belizeans love so much.
I really didn’t know about ceviche growing up. We didn’t eat much seafood; BUT, all things considered, I doubt I’d have touched this dish with a ten foot pole even if I had been exposed to it. It’s a Mexican specialty that has easily migrated to other Central American countries and Caribbean islands. Ceviche means that seafood has been “cooked” in citrus juice. It is never exposed to a traditional heat source for cooking it. Up until my mid-twenties, I would have considered it raw and stayed far away. I’m very glad I have changed my mind, because ceviche is delicious, easy, and healthy! Our waiter in Belize told us that ceviche is usually consumed after a long night of drinking. That hasn’t ever been my experience of it, but I can attest to the sheer pleasure of eating it with an icy cold beer.
You can use a variety of seafood for ceviche, really whatever you want. I’ve seen white fish, swordfish, tuna, shrimp, squid, and crab. This particular recipe called for tilapia, and that’s one of my favorite fishes, so I happily obliged. This recipe allowed 15 minutes for “cooking” and I would probably allow up to at least 30 minutes. I served my ceviche in the traditional manner: the fish itself is in a drinking glass with corn tortillas and lime wedges alongside. You can use the tortillas as is, and eat this like a taco, or you can fry or grill them and serve it tostada style. It will be delicious either way. Enjoy!
Source: Marcela Valladolid, “Fresh Mexico”
2 lbs. very fresh tilapia, cut into a small dice
15 limes; 14 halved, 1 cut into wedges
1/2 cup chopped, seeded tomato
1/2 cup chopped, seeded cucumber
1 jalapeno or serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, minced
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and black pepper
1 tbs bottled hot sauce (I use Cholula)
Corn tortillas, for serving
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, thinly sliced
Place the tilapia in a medium bowl. Squeeze the juice from the lime halves over the fish and mix gently to combine. Chill in the refrigerator until the fish is white throughout, about 30 minutes.
Drain off the lime juice, gently squeezing the fish with your hands. Discard the lime juice. Mix the tomato, cucumber, jalapeno, onion, and cilantro with the fish. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the hot sauce and mix gently.
Spread the tortillas generously with the sour cream, then top with the ceviche. Arrange the avocado on top and serve immediately with lime wedges alongside.