If the centuries-old practice of curing raw fish and seafood in a bath of floral citrus juices and vibrant peppers didn’t exist, Miamians might have invented it. Brightly acidic and meltingly tender, there is no end to the variety of ceviches (also called cebiche) available from the food trucks and market stalls, family restaurants and chef-driven outposts—or reasons to indulge. At Ozziel Sanchez’ Fresh Florida Fisheries, they serve the same ceviche at the market that fishermen prepare at sea. Meanwhile, at La Mar by Gastón Acurio, Executive Chef Diego Oka adapts classic Peruvian techniques to whatever Florida’s waters send him.
Descended from a long line of fisherman, Ozziel Sanchez helped his father run the family’s flagship restaurant, Casablanca, before striking out on his own with a mainland market. Fresh-off-the-boat grouper, yellowtail, kingfish, and mackerel fill the ice-packed display cases, but customers can opt for a straightforward ceviche with freshly fried tostones.
Before coming to Miami, Peruvian-Japanese chef Diego Oka helped launch La Mar Cebicherias in Mexico City, Bogotá, and San Francisco, so he’s adept at translating Peruvian ingredients. Oka recommends rinsing the red onions first to match Peru’s milder varieties and balances the sweetness of Persian limes with added fish stock. Just don’t ask him what fish to use. “There’s no perfect fish for cebiche,” affirms Oka. “It’s the fish you can find the freshest.”