Ceviche: Debated Ancestry

Ceviche, seviche or cebiche is a technique of marinating raw seafood in citrus, traditionally fresh lime juice. As with all great food, it is exalted simplicity and highly dependent on the ingredients. The fish du jour is slightly “cooked” by the citric acid, which does not involve heat, but does impart subtle flavor. The citric acid denatures the proteins in the fish, unraveling the molecules and altering their chemical and physical properties. Bathing the fish in citrus juices turns the flesh firm and opaque.

As with sashimi, ceviche should be reserved for the absolutely freshest your fishmonger has to offer — and sustainable, less toxin-risky species should always be the goal.  Also try to assure that the fish is the actual species you are purchasing.

While many espouse that ceviche originated in Peru, there seem to be so many varied claims and theories on which country or historical era gave birth to this dish that landing on a solid postulate seems nearly impossible. Suffice it to say, ceviche appears to be native to Central and South America (but, stories persist about ceviche being the fancied, imported stepchild of Moorish women who immigrated to the Viceroyalty of Peru beginning in the 16th century). Such are the culinary conundrums created when civilizations merge, expand, disperse and vanish over time.

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