Ceviche For All Occasions

Ceviche (2) A problem that arises for all cooks–not often, admittedly–is when you’ve caught or bought some fresh fish and you want to serve it as fresh as possible, that is, that very day, and then plans change suddenly and you are unable to cook it.  You’re loath to just keep it refrigerated until you can cook it because then it’s obviously not as fresh.  My solution is ceviche.  Ceviche is a well-known appetizer in America of lime or lemon juice-marinated raw fish.  I once read that it was introduced to the United States from Peru by restaurateurs.  But ceviche is nothing but a Mediterranean method of preserving raw fish.  The citric acid causes the proteins in the seafood to become denatured, appearing to be cooked.  The Latin American Spanish word ceviche (or seviche) comes from the Iberian Spanish escabeche, also called schebbeci in Sicily, a word that means “marinated fish.”  The Arabs ruled both Spain and Sicily for centuries, and as a result the word escabeche can be traced to the dialectal Arabic word iskibaj, which the great lexicographer Joan Corominas of the University of Chicago describes as deriving from the older sikbāj, meaning “a kind of meat with vinegar and other ingredients.”  It’s very easy to do  which can probably be done simply by looking at the picture.  There the mixed fish is marinated for 4 hours in lemon juice, parsley, bits of tomato, and salt and pepper.  Any fish can be used, but white-fleshed fish are typical. You can add other ingredients or spices at will.


  1. You’re right, it’s not clear cut, but it is speculatively likely.


  1. […] answer may not be so clear-cut. Clifford A. Wright, author of ‘A Mediterranean Feast,’ argues that marinating fish in lemon is a cooking method for storing fish that originates in the Mediterranean […]

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