|Course||Main course, appetizer|
|Place of origin||Latin American coastal countries of the Pacific Ocean (see text).|
|Serving temperature||Cold; cooked or raw (marinated)|
|Main ingredients||Fish, lime, lemon, onion, chili pepper|
Ceviche, also cebiche, seviche or sebiche (Spanish pronunciation: [seˈβitʃe]), is a seafood dish typically made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with ají, chili peppers or other seasonings including chopped onions, salt, and cilantro. Because the dish is not cooked with heat, it must be prepared and consumed fresh to minimize the risk of food poisoning. Ceviche is usually accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavors, such as sweet potato, lettuce, corn, avocado or plantain. The dish is popular in the Pacific coastal regions of Latin America. Though the origin of ceviche is hotly debated, in Peru it is considered a national dish.
Though archeological records suggest that something resembling ceviche may have been consumed in Peru nearly two thousand years ago, some historians believe the predecessor to the dish was brought to Peru by Moorish women from Granada, who accompanied the Spanish conquistadors and colonizers, and this dish eventually evolved into what is now considered ceviche. Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio further explains that the dominant position Lima held through four centuries as the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru allowed for popular dishes such as ceviche to be brought to other Spanish colonies in the region, and in time they became a part of local cuisine by incorporating regional flavors and styles.
Ceviche is now a popular international dish prepared in a variety of ways throughout the Americas, reaching the United States in the 1980s. The greatest variety of ceviches are found in Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and Peru; but other distinctly unique styles can also be found in coastal Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala, the United States, Mexico, Panama, and several other nations.
The origin of the name of the dish is also disputed. One hypothesis suggests the common Spanish word for the dish, cebiche, has its origin in the Latin word cibus, which translates to English as "food" Another hypothesis, supported by the Royal Spanish Academy, is that ceviche has the same etymology as escabeche, which derives from Mozarabic izkebêch, in turn descending from Andalusian Arabic assukkabáǧ, which also derives from Classical Arabic sakbāj (سكباج, meaning meat cooked in vinegar). It is ultimately from the unattested Middle Persian *sikbāg, from sik ("vinegar") and *bāg ("soup"), which also yielded the Persian word sekbā (سکبا, a soup made with meat and vinegar). Further hypotheses base the origin of the term on escabeche, Spanish for pickle, or it is simply a variation of the word siwichi, the traditional Quechua name for the dish.
The name of the dish may be spelled variously as cebiche, ceviche, seviche or sebiche, but the more common spelling in Peru is ceviche with v which is an alternative spelling accepted by the Royal Spanish Academy, the official institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language in Spain. Despite this, other local terms, such as cerbiche and serviche, are still used as variations to name the dish.
In regard to its origin, various explanations are given. According to some historic sources from Peru, ceviche would have originated among the Moche, a coastal civilization that began to flourish in the area of current-day northern Peru nearly 2000 years ago. The Moche apparently used the fermented juice from the local banana passionfruit. Recent investigations further show, during the Inca Empire, fish were marinated with the use of chicha, an Andean fermented beverage. Different chronicles also report, along the Peruvian coast prior to the arrival of Europeans, fish was consumed with salt and ají. Furthermore, this theory proposes the natives simply switched to the citrus fruits brought by the Spanish colonists, but the main concepts of the plate remain essentially the same. In Ecuador, it could have also had its origins with its coastal civilizations, as both Peru and Ecuador have shared cultural heritages (such as the Inca Empire) and a large variety of fish and shellfish.
The ancient kinilaw (or kilawin) dish of the Philippines is remarkably similar to ceviche and is another possible origin. It is the origin generally agreed upon in Mexico. Especially since citrus fruits, which are not indigenous to the Americas, are native to the Philippines. Kinilaw has numerous variations in the Philippines and has been attested from archaeological records since the 10th to 13th century AD. It was also introduced to Guam (resulting in the kelaguen), which was also along the Spanish-era trade route of the Manila Galleons.
The invention of the dish is also attributed to places ranging from Central America to the Polynesian islands in the South Pacific. Ceviche is not native to Mexico, despite the fact that the dish has been a part of traditional Mexican coastal cuisine for centuries. The Spanish, who brought from Europe citrus fruits such as lime, could have originated the dish in Spain with roots in Moorish cuisine.
Nevertheless, most historians agree ceviche originated during colonial times in the area of present-day Peru. They propose the predecessor to the dish was brought to Peru by Moorish women from Granada who accompanied the Spaniards, and this dish eventually evolved into what nowadays is considered ceviche. Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio further explains the dominant position that Lima held through four centuries as the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru allowed for popular dishes such as ceviche to be brought to other Spanish colonies in the region, and in time they became a part of local cuisine by incorporating regional flavors and styles. Other notable chefs who support the Peruvian origin of the plate include Chilean Christopher Carpentier and Spaniard Ferran Adrià, who in an interview stated, "Cebiche was born in Peru, and so the authentic and genuine [cebiche] is Peruvian."
Preparation and variants
Ceviche is marinated in a citrus-based mixture, with lemons and limes being the most commonly used. In addition to adding flavor, the citric acid causes the proteins in the seafood to become denatured, appearing to be cooked. (However, acid marinades will not kill bacteria or parasitic worms, unlike the heat of cooking.) Traditional-style ceviche was marinated for about three hours. Modern-style ceviche, popularized in the 1970s, usually has a very short marinating period. With the appropriate fish, it can marinate in the time it takes to mix the ingredients, serve, and carry the ceviche to the table.
Most Latin American countries have given ceviche its own touch of individuality by adding their own particular garnishes.
In Peru, ceviche has been declared to be part of the country's "national heritage" and has even had a holiday declared in its honor. The classic Peruvian ceviche is composed of chunks of raw fish, marinated in freshly squeezed key lime or bitter orange (naranja agria) juice, with sliced onions, chili peppers, salt and pepper. Corvina or cebo (sea bass) was the fish traditionally used. The mixture was traditionally marinated for several hours and served at room temperature, with chunks of corn-on-the-cob, and slices of cooked sweet potato. Regional or contemporary variations include garlic, fish bone broth, minced Peruvian ají limo, or the Andean chili rocoto, toasted corn or cancha and yuyo (seaweed). A specialty of Trujillo is ceviche prepared from shark (tollo or tojo). Lenguado (sole) is often used in Lima. The modern version of Peruvian ceviche, which is similar to the method used in making Japanese sashimi, consists of fish marinated for a few minutes and served promptly. It was developed in the 1970s by Peruvian-Japanese chefs including Dario Matsufuji and Humberto Sato. Many Peruvian cevicherías serve a small glass of the marinade (as an appetizer) along with the fish, which is called leche de tigre or leche de pantera.
In Ecuador, the shrimp ceviche is sometimes made with tomato sauce for a tangy taste. The Manabí style, made with lime juice, salt and the juice provided by the cooked shrimp itself is very popular. Occasionally, ceviche is made with various types of local shellfish, such as black clam (cooked or raw), oysters (cooked or raw), spondylus (raw), barnacles (cooked percebes), among others mostly cooked. It is served in a bowl with toasted corn kernels as a side dish (fried green plantain chunks called "patacones", thinly sliced plantain chips called chifle, and popcorn are also typical ceviche side dishes). In some regions, ceviche is served with rice on the side. Well cooked Sea bass (corvina), octopus, and crab ceviches are also common in Ecuador. In all ceviches, lime juice and salt are ubiquitous ingredients.
In Chile, ceviche is often made with fillets of halibut or Patagonian toothfish, and marinated in lime and grapefruit juices, as well as finely minced garlic and red chili peppers and often fresh mint and cilantro are added.
North and Central America, and the Caribbean
In Mexico and some parts Central America, it is served either in cocktail cups with tostadas, salted crackers, or as a tostada topping and taco filling. In Mexico, when served in a cup with tomato sauce, it is called a ceviche cocktail. Although this cocktail is made from the "dry" ceviche recipe, this presentation is rather unusual outside of some specific areas, and in most areas of Mexico the ceviche cocktail is very popular. Shrimp, octopus, squid, tuna, and mackerel are also popular bases for Mexican ceviche. The marinade ingredients include salt, lime, onion, chili peppers, avocado, and cilantro (known as coriander leaves outside of the Americas). Cut olives and a bit of tomatoes are often added to the preparation (ketchup is not used because it adds sugar and is not fresh).
In El Salvador and Nicaragua one popular ceviche recipe is ceviche de concha negra ("black conch ceviche"), known in Mexico as pata de mula ("mule's foot"). It is dark, nearly black, with a distinct look and flavor. It is prepared with lime juice, onion, yerba buena, salt, pepper, tomato, Worcestershire sauce, and sometimes picante (any kind of hot sauce or any kind of hot pepper) as desired.
In Nicaragua and Costa Rica, the dish includes marinated fish, lime juice, salt, ground black pepper, finely minced onions, coriander (cilantro) and finely minced peppers. It is usually served in a cocktail glass with a lettuce leaf and soda crackers on the side, as in Mexico. Popular condiments are tomato ketchup, mayonnaise, and tabasco sauce. The fish is typically tilapia or corvina, although mahi-mahi, shark and marlin are also popular.
In Panama, ceviche is prepared with lemon juice, chopped onion, celery, cilantro, assorted peppers, and sea salt. Ceviche de corvina (white sea bass) is very popular and is served as an appetizer in most local restaurants. It is also commonly prepared with octopus, shrimp, and squid, or served with little pastry shells called "canastitas."
In Cuba, ceviche is often made using mahi-mahi prepared with lime juice, salt, onion, green pepper, habanero, and a touch of allspice. Squid and tuna are also popular. In Puerto Rico and other places in the Caribbean, the dish is prepared with coconut milk. In The Bahamas and south Florida, a conch ceviche known as 'conch salad' is very popular. It is prepared by marinating diced fresh conch in lime with chopped onions, celery, and bell pepper. Diced pequin pepper and/or scotch bonnet pepper is often added for spice. In south Florida, it is common to encounter a variation to which tomato juice has been added.
In the Philippines, kinilaw (or kilawin) which use raw fish are usually referred to in English as "Filipino ceviche". However, this is inaccurate as kinilaw technically refers to an indigenous cooking process and thus not restricted to fish. Unlike Latin American ceviches, which primarily use citrus juices, kilawin instead primarily uses vinegar (usually coconut vinegar) and other acidic fruit juices. It is native to the Philippines, with archeological evidence dating back to the 10th to 13th century AD. It was also described by Spanish colonists and explorers to the Philippines, with the earliest mention being in the Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala (1613) as cqinicqilao and cquilao.
Fish kinilaw typically use tanigue (Spanish mackerels), malasugi (marlins or swordfish), and anchovies. The raw fish are cubed and then marinated in vinegar, souring agents (usually calamansi, but can also be other sour fruits), and salt and spices like black pepper, ginger, onions, and chili peppers (commonly siling labuyo or bird's eye chili). Variants can also use other ingredients, like shrimp, squid, clams, oysters, crabs, sea urchin roe, seaweed, shipworms (tamilok), vegetables, and cooked meat (usually goat meat, pork, beef, or chicken).
In the Northern Mariana Islands, kelaguen, is another ceviche-type dish among the Chamorro people. It is derived from and closely resembles the Filipino kilawin. It is believed to have originated from Filipino settlers during the Manila galleon trade in the Spanish period. Like the Filipino kilawin, the Chamorro dish is also not restricted to fish or seafood, and can use cooked meat (commonly chicken or beef), but it is influenced by the Latin American version in that they exclusively use citrus juices. It is usually served with titiya (Chamorro tortillas) during fiestas.
Ceviche is usually very healthy. However, bad sanitary conditions during its preparation may lead to illness. Aside from contaminants, raw seafood can also be the vector for various pathogens, viral and bacterial, as well as larger parasitic creatures. According to the 2009 Food Code published by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and more recent studies, specific microbial hazards in ceviche include Anisakis simplex, Diphyllobothrium spp., Pseudoterranova decipiens and Pseudoterranova cattani, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Anisakiasis is a zoonotic disease caused by the ingestion of larval nematodes in raw seafood dishes such as ceviche. The Latin American cholera outbreaks in the 1990s may have been attributed to the consumption of raw cholera-infested seafood that was eaten as ceviche.
The American Dietetic Association urges women to avoid ceviche during pregnancy.
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