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Eatymology of Ceviche

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Eatymology of Ceviche
Photos by Jennifer Hitchcock

[seh-BEE-chay]–noun
A seafood dish where acids
from citrus fruits “cook” fresh raw fish.

Offering a simple and refreshing taste of the sea, ceviche refers to a dish comprised of fresh raw seafood that is “cooked” by the acids in citrus fruits and complemented by a variety of herbs, produce combinations, and a little spice usually provided by chili peppers. Occasionally it calls for the seafood to be blanched in hot water before the marinating process, but either way, it is important to use the highest-quality seafood. Citrus will “cook” the flesh in that it will change the protein structure and firm it up to give it that cooked texture, but fruit juice does not eliminate bacteria in the same way that high temperatures do.

Photo by Jennifer Hitchcock
Chef Michelle Bernstein's Fresh Tuna and Watermelon Ceviche. Photo by Jennifer Hitchcock

While the most popular spelling is ceviche, cebiche and seviche are also acceptable, and all are pronounced the same (iterations are region-specific—in Ecuador it is “cebiche,” in Mexico “seviche”), the origins of ceviche are most often ascribed to Peru and Ecuador; a precursor to the dish we know today was first recorded roughly 2,000 years ago when the Incas used fruit juices mixed with salt and chili peppers to preserve their fish. Primarily associated with Latin and South American cuisine, ceviche has been wildly popular in coastal United States locales since it was introduced stateside in the 1980s. The South, with so many cities having access to abundant seafood, has adopted ceviche as a staple on many a menu.

James Beard Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein of Michy’s in Miami is known for her delicious twists on this dish, and she has developed two recipes here that are simple summer seafood fun. By adding a little popcorn and corn nut crunch, she stays true to traditional Ecuadorian preparation and to her innate talent for making beautiful dishes literally popping with flavor.

“Ceviche is a fresh, flavor filled dish that can be served in a number of fun creative ways! I love to pair it with seasonal seafood, fruits, and citruses. I love to add chunks of cooked sweet potatoes and corn to it like they do it Peru—giving it a balance of spicy, sweet, tangy, crunchy, creamy, and crisp. I can’t imagine anything going better on a Southern table, served either before or along with Southern favorites like fritters, cornbread and okra.” 

–Chef Michelle Bernstein of Miami, Florida

Chef Michelle Bernstein’s Ceviche

Fresh Tuna and Watermelon “Ceviche”
Mixed Ceviche

Published in Aug.Sept 2013

MORE SUMMER SEAFOOD /// Chili Shrimp / Red Snapper Crudo / Flounder with Black Eyed Peas /  Stone Crab Cocktail

 

Mentioned in this post:
Michelle Bernstein