CELEBRATING THE SEAFOOD-AND-LIME DISH, EVERYWHERE IT’S SERVED
While teaching English in Panama, I’d religiously stop in each evening at my corner market, Bodega Mi Amiga, which received daily plastic containers of some of the best raw fish prepared only by soaking with lemon juice. This was my first introduction to ceviche and it was love at first bite. My excuse was I needed more of those handy containers for leftovers at home. A pint or three of ceviche and a couple sleeves of saltine crackers brought friends together around a table. At the fresh-seafood market, you could buy a two-dollar Styrofoam cup of spicy ceviche as a pick-me-up in the morning. Better than coffee. “Makes you strong,” the vendor would tell me with a wink.
From Mexico to Chile, and from highlands of Guatemala, I’ve eaten the Caribbean islands to the this delectable dish of fresh seafood in fine restaurants, mom-and-pop shops and beachside shacks. In the 21st century, ceviche has moved beyond Latin American restaurants and can be found as an appetizer in high-end kitchens around the world. But in the lands of its origin — Latin America and the Caribbean — it’s still very much a go-to appetizer, or even an unpretentious main course.
NEITHER RAW NOR COOKED
The universal concept behind all the different types of ceviches is “cooking” seafood without heat but rather employing acidic citrus juice. When food is cooked by heat, the structure of some of the proteins is altered, a process generally known as “denaturation.” This is why meat changes texture when cooked, or an egg turns white and
THE UNIVERSAL CONCEPT BEHIND ALL CEVICHES IS “COOKING” SEAFOOD WITHOUT HEAT, EMPLOYING ACIDIC CITRUS JUICE.