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Peruvian Ceviche

Peruvian ceviche, also spelled Cebiche, is not only one of the most popular dishes in Peru and the pride and joy of all Peruvians, but as well the Peruvian National Dish with its very own National Day on June 28th.

The traditional Peruvian ceviche is prepared in no time using just 5 simple, (at least on the Peruvian coast) easily available ingredients: fresh, raw, white fish filet and onions cooked in freshly pressed lime juice and seasoned with Peruvian chili peppers and salt.

What is Ceviche?

There are many different regional variations of ceviche but most simply, the dish will consist of raw fish, fresh lime juice, a few chilis. The most popular type of ceviche and the one you will find all over Peru, adds in raw onion and coriander. Although it doesn’t sound super appealing, we promise it is delicious!

The fish is cured by sitting in a marinade of lime juice and salt. The acid from the citrus fruit reacts with the salt, essentially cooking it. This is what makes the fish turn from pink to white. It has long been argued about how long to leave the fish in the juice for, with some chefs opting for a minute and others preferring an hour or two. If you leave the fish for too long, it can become rubbery.
By the way, the juice left after the marination process of the ceviche consisting of the lime juice and all the flavors from the fish and chili peppers, is called Leche de Tigre. Peruvians spoon it, when they have finished their ceviche.

Many different kinds of fish can be used in ceviche but the most popular are sea bass, halibut, snapper, trout and tilapia. Shellfish and other seafood such as octopus, squid, shrimp and scallops can be used as well although these feature more frequently in restaurants or stalls located in coastal regions. 

Ingredients for Peruvian Ceviche:

  • 400 g semi firm, white, sea water fish filet (sea bass, sole, flounder)
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 small aji limo (you could substitute with habanero pepper)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 aji amarillo (optional)
  • 8 Peruvian limes (key limes will do)
  • Salt
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 1 boiled ear of corn, cut into thick slices
  • 1 boiled sweet potato, cut into thick slices
  • Lettuce
  • Fresh chopped coriander or parsley

Preparation Tips

Ceviche is probably one of the easiest and quickest dishes to prepare and surely makes an impression, at least if you follow some very simple rules

  • First prepare all the ingredients: deseed and devein aji and finely cube, slice onion into thin strips, cut the fish evenly into bite-sized pieces and press the limes. Use a left-over piece of the aji (or chili) and rub the sides of a bowl, you are using to prepare the ceviche, with it.
  • Now work quickly: place the pieces of fish and onion strips into the bowl. Add the ice cubes. Season with salt and add chopped aji (chili pepper). Add half of the freshly pressed lime juice. Then mix all ingredients together. Remove ice cubes before they are starting to melt. Add the rest of the lime juice and stir gently. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 5 minutes, stir again and leave in the fridge to marinate for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  • In the meantime, decorate 3 to 4 plates to taste with lettuce leaves, thick slices of corn on the cob and sweet potato. Quickly spoon ceviche together with some of the juice on each plate and sprinkle with chopped coriander or parsley. Serve immediately.
  • Enjoy the simplicity and freshness of Peru’s National Dish!

Ceviche is the perfect appetizer to serve on a warm day. It is full of heat and flavor and very refreshing with the lemonade or chicha morada (fermentation of the purple Andean corn).

Now that you know how to make Peruvian ceviche, you’re all set to host a dinner party!

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