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January 2, 2012 / Food Follower

Simply Ceviche

Ceviche from Segundo Muelle

I have been in Lima for a week now and have eaten ceviche three times already, so I figured I would write my next post on this delicious Peruvian dish.  I must confess that one of these times was at a buffet, so I had a lot of other food on my plate besides ceviche (which is typical for me).  I am the type of person restaurants had in mind when reducing the size of their buffet plates, so I would have to go back numerous times to get more food.

Instead of rambling about my eating habits, I shall get back to what was intended as the primary focus of this post- ceviche.  Historians believe that the Moche, an ancient Peruvian civilization that preceded the Incas, created ceviche by marinating fish in fermented passionfruit juice.

Nowadays, ceviche is prepared using either lemon or lime juice.  (In Peru, they use primarily limes).  For any of you non-bio majors out there like me, the acid from the fruit denatures the fish- a process where the proteins of the fish break down. Traditionally, corvina (sea bass) was marinated in the acidic juice for three hours and served with sliced onion and diced aji pepper.  Warning to anyone who orders ceviche in Peru: if the restaurant puts a large piece of sliced red aji pepper on the top of the ceviche (as shown in my photo above), do not confuse it with the mild red bell pepper.  Let me stress, do not eat it unless you can handle extreme heat.  My dad experienced that the hard way when he ate the entire pepper.  He is fine now, but he is still hesitant to order ceviche up to this day.

Many modern Peruvian chefs use countless other types of fish and seafood besides corvina and marinate these for as little as 10 minutes.  Peruvian ceviche typically comes with sweet potato and chopped corn. These sides provide a sweet note to the dish and balance the spiciness from the aji and the sourness from the limes. You can find ceviche throughout Lima, but I suggest the one from Segundo Muelle or La Mar (which I mentioned in my first entry).  If you are in Peru, ditch the sushi and order ceviche with a refreshing frozen lemonade to wash it down.

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