Ceviche: How much do I love thee? Let me count the ways: I love you in a big wood bowl with a spoon for dinner, I love you as an appetizer with homemade corn chips, I can eat you day after day after day.
When we first started building our home here in Belize 12 years ago I tried ceviche in every restaurant in town! A fishing guide of ours, “Skinny,” bragged that he made the best ceviche around and he demonstrated his technique for my hubby. He used a large amount of fish and lots of fresh, local vegetables. We love his recipe and make it every single time we are down in Belize and for each and every visitor. It’s a must-eat in our home and has almost become a religious experience!
If you can chop, you can make ceviche. Nothing else quite hits the spot on a hot, hot day – something about the saltiness, the crunchiness and the spiciness speaks to me when it is 85 degrees outside. I think its appeal is due in large part to the big hit of citrus. Belizean ceviche is known for an abundance of freshly squeezed lime juice. The acid from the limes changes the texture of the fish, yet bacteria and parasites can remain so it is ultra important to begin with washed, clean ingredients.
The quantities below provide a guideline, but feel free to add more or less of anything to your own taste. For example, I usually add more onions and celery for crunch. And be sure to use the freshest seafood available!
Makes ~8-10 cups
- 1 pound of seafood-this can be medium peeled shrimp, snapper, grouper, cod, lobster, conch…anything white.
- 8 medium sized limes, juiced
- 1 large carrot
- 1 red onion (or white sweet onion)
- 2 stalks of celery
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded
- 1 large tomato, seeded
- 1 cucumber, peeled and seeded (in the U.S. I use English cucumbers, which do not need peeling)
- 1 bunch cilantro, washed and finely chopped (about ⅓ cup packed once chopped)
- Salt and pepper to taste (it takes lots of both)
- ½ habanero pepper, seeded and minced very fine or a hefty amount (~ 1 Tbsp) of habanero hot sauce such as Marie Sharps. Wear gloves if you are handling fresh habanero peppers!
Use a large ceramic or glass bowl to hold the chopped ingredients. First, dice whatever seafood you use into ½ inch pieces. Place in bottom of bowl and juice enough limes so the juice barely covers the seafood.
Meanwhile dice carrots, onion, celery, pepper, cucumber and tomato into small, uniform pieces, about ¼ inch. Mince cilantro and add all of this to the bowl of seafood. Mix well, add hot sauce or habanero and salt/pepper.
Place a dish on top to cover the ceviche and leave it in the refrigerator. Stir well every hour. Less dense fish (i.e. white fish) takes less time to be ready and denser seafood (i.e. conch, lobster and shrimp) takes longer. I really prefer using a fairly dense fish that can hold up to the lime juice – I find the more delicate white fishes get “mushier.” Taste after 2 hours and inspect to see if the fish is no longer opaque. The mixture will lose some volume as it juices. Add more salt, ground black pepper or habanero sauce at the end to taste.
We like to serve this with fresh tortilla chips and, of course, a nice cold beer or Margarita. And when we’re feeling extravagant, we’ll put together a batch of freshly made Caipiringas made with rum instead of Cachaca – the perfect accompaniment to my favorite Belizean treat!