Cooking Like A Mexican

Ceviche
BY: ALEJANDRA SARACHAGA

Ceviche is a seafood dish popular in the coastal regions of the Americas, especially Central and South America The dish is typically made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with other ingredients that I will gift to you further in this article. Be patient, a virtue in a good cook of Mexican food.

2016-03-21-(3).jpgThe origin of ceviche is disputed, but possible origin sites for the dish include the western coast of north-central South America, or in Central America. The invention of the dish is also attributed to other coastal societies, such as the Polynesian islands of the south Pacific. The Spanish, who brought from Europe citrus fruits such as lime, could have also originated the dish with roots in Moorish cuisine. However, the most likely origin lies in the area of present-day Mexico and Peru and that’s what I choose to believe. Probably Mexico, probably not Peru.

Ceviche is nowadays a popular international dish prepared in a variety of ways throughout the Americas, reaching the United States in the 1980s. Distinctly unique styles are also found in coastal Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Panama and the Caribbean 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, ceviche has its origin in the Latin word cibus, which translates to English as “food for men and animals.” Another hypothesis, supported by the Royal Spanish Academy (the official institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language.), is the name might derive from the Spanish-Arabic word “assukkabag”, which is a word that will send my dirty minded Gringa boss into hysterical laughter, but is a legitimate word that comes from the Arabic word “sakbaj” meaning: meat cooked in vinegar. Further hypotheses base the origin of the term on “escabeche”, Spanish for pickle.

bottom line, most historians agree ceviche originated during colonial times

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, (destroy the characteristic properties by heat, acidity, or other effects that disrupt its molecular structure), appearing to be cooked. 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.

There are several variations of this dish, like Mexican ceviche, Peruvian ceviche, Ecuadorian ceviche, made of shrimp, lemon and tomato sauce, and ceviche from Costa Rica. Most Latin American countries have given ceviche its own touch of individuality by adding their own particular garnishes.

In Mexico and Central America, it is served in cocktail cups with tostadas, or as a tostada topping and taco filling. Shrimp, octopus, squid, tuna and mackerel are popular bases for Mexican ceviche. And you can mix them all together, creating ceviche mixto.

The marinade ingredients include salt, lime, onion, chile, avocado and coriander or cilantro. Tomatoes are often added to the preparation. According to the book Mexico One Plate At A Time, even though the dish has been a part of traditional Mexican coastal cuisine for centuries, ceviche is not a dish native to Mexico. Humph. If that’s true, still, Mexican ceviche has developed its own distinct styles that make it unique from any other, usually lesser, variations. In El Salvador the ceviche tradition is very strong. One of the most exotic ceviche recipes is “Ceviche de Concha Negra,”, known in Mexico as Pata de Mula, or “The Black Clam.” It is dark, nearly black, with a distinct look and flavor. It is prepared with lime juice, onion, yerbabuena (is the Spanish name for a number of aromatic plants, most of which belong to the mint family. Yerba Buena translates as “good herb”), salt, pepper, tomato, Worcester sauce, and sometimes picante sauce (any kind of hot sauce or any kind of hot pepper) as desired.

Ingredients

1 pound bay scallops

8 limes, juiced

2 tomatoes, diced

5 green onions, minced

2 stalks celery, sliced

1/2 green bell pepper, minced

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

Rinse scallops and place in a medium sized bowl. Pour lime juice over the scallops. The scallops should be completely immersed in the lime juice. Chill the lime juice and scallops all day or overnight until scallops are opaque (That means you cannot see through them).

Empty 1/2 of the lime juice from the bowl. Add tomatoes, green onions, celery, green bell pepper, parsley, black pepper, olive oil, and cilantro to the scallop mixture. Stir gently. Serve this dish in fancy glasses with a slice of lime hanging over the rim to pretty it all up. ,

Alejandra