How to make Ceviche (Easy Side Dish with Fish/Shrimp)


May 1, 2024

With the weather warming up this season, a refreshing and easy side dish made with seafood like fish or shrimp is the perfect light meal to enjoy outside. Whether you’re in your backyard, patio, poolside or at the beach, ceviche is a dish that’s not just delicious, but is protein-rich. This way if you’re on a low calorie diet, it’s safe to say that a fish ceviche recipe or an easy shrimp ceviche recipe would make great additions to your recipe bank.

Ceviche is a dish that never fails to impress. Its vibrant colors and flavors and refreshing tang make it the perfect choice for any occasion. You can use different types of fish (red snapper, sea bass, mahi-mahi etc), shrimp or other seafood like octopus and pair it with fresh ingredients.

Whether it’s a casual dinner with friends or a special celebration, ceviche is a great dish and easy-to-prepare option. The combination of citrus juice, fresh fish, and zesty ingredients creates a light meal that is both satisfying and full of flavor. 

With various ways to customize and adapt the recipe to suit individual preferences, ceviche offers a delightful culinary experience every time. It can be a fresh appetizer, such as a Mexican shrimp cocktail. Have you tried a seafood campachena?

It can also be your main meal like ceviche de pescado. From South America to kitchens around the world, this dish holds a special place as a go-to meal that never disappoints. Our Peruvian Ceviche recipe that we teach inside our Masterclass Series has turned our students around. From not even wanting to try raw fish to actually enjoying it and planning to make it again…it’s something that if it is done right, you’re sure to love it.

So, whether you’re a seafood enthusiast or simply looking for a new and exciting dish to try, ceviche is the perfect choice for a fresh take on seafood. 

What is Ceviche?

The dish typically consists of fresh raw fish or seafood, marinated in citrus juice, such as fresh lime or orange juice, which effectively “cooks” the seafood using citric acid. The origins of ceviche can be traced back to ancient Peru, where it was believed to be consumed over 2,000 years ago.

Today, ceviche is enjoyed across South America and has expanded its influence to various Latin American countries, each putting its own unique flavor spin on this beloved dish. The basic ingredients of a traditional ceviche usually include fresh fish, citrus juice, red onion, and chili peppers, all coming together to create a truly satisfying dining experience. 

The Essential Ceviche Ingredients

Start with the tang of citrus juice, which adds the signature zest to the dish. Fresh fish is a must; think sea bass, mahi-mahi, or red snapper, cut into small pieces for the perfect ceviche texture. Don’t forget the punch of red onion, adding its own unique flavor to the mix.

And of course, if you know me, there needs to be some heat involved! Balance the dish with some chilis for a bit of heat. These four components form the heart of any great ceviche recipe, providing the fresh, zesty, spicy and savory elements that make this dish that will easily make it into your favorite things list.

Customizing Your Ceviche

There are variations: fish, seafood and even conch (which is popular in Anguilla, where we lived for almost 5 years). We actually taught this easy recipe to our students inside our masterclass series, 30-MINUTE WOW WORTHY MEALS”.

It’s interesting to note that for a few, this was their first time to try fresh ceviche. We are happy to report that they loved it even if they had their own hesitations about raw fish in the beginning.

Served with corn kernels and sweet potatoes, it is a perfect match for a warm day outside sipping it together with a coupe of Pisco Sour, making the experience of this Latin American Dish even more authentic. It’s an easy Peruvian meal you can whip up in under 30 minutes.

The possibilities are endless. You can opt for the delicate flavor of sea bass, the firm texture of mahi mahi, or the sweet tenderness of poached shrimp for a take on Mexican Ceviche. For a burst of heat, try using jalapeño peppers, and for a touch of citrus, experiment with grapefruit juice or orange juice in addition to the classic fresh lime juice. Embrace your creativity by incorporating unique flavors like coconut milk or a hint of hot sauce to elevate the traditional flavors for a perfect ceviche. 

Fish Ceviche Recipes

When it comes to making the best ceviche, using a delicate white fish like sea bass or red snapper is key. The fish needs to be cut into small pieces to ensure that the citrus juice effectively “cooks” it. But be careful. You only need this to marinate for 15-30 seconds. 

True story. A few years ago, my mom asked me how to make ceviche. I gave her my instructions, but she had already left the fish in the citrus juice overnight. Can’t do that. It will “overcook”. The fish will become tough.

When done right however, the combination of fresh lime juice and a hint of orange or grapefruit juice infuses the fish with bright, tangy flavor. You don’t need more than 30 seconds. Yes, seriously. Just 30 seconds. Then serve it immediately.

Adding a kick of heat with finely diced chili peppers brings an extra dimension to the dish. Embracing the traditional flavors of Peruvian ceviche, we always incorporate red onion, fresh cilantro, and a touch of citric acid for that quintessential zing that ceviche is known for.

If you’re worried about the fish staying fresh, make sure you have the fish in a bowl on top of a bowl of ice water. It’s the same principle when making sushi. You’re keeping the fish fresh and cold for as long as possible.

Shrimp Ceviche Variations

Begin by gathering fresh shrimp, red onion, and fresh lime juice. Cut the raw shrimp into small pieces and marinate them in the lime juice along with finely diced red onion. Allow the shrimp to “cook” in the citrus juice for about one hour until they are opaque and firm. Adjust the seasoning with a touch of sea salt and a hint of spicy jalapeño pepper for a kick. You’ll be pleased to know that for all the different ways to cook ceviche, the ingredients are easily available in your local grocery stores.

For a Mexican-style shrimp ceviche, introduce flavors of pico de gallo and fresh cilantro. Combine the citrus-marinated shrimp with diced roma tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and a bit of diced red onion. Enhance the taste with a splash of orange juice and a pinch of cayenne pepper for an extra zing. Serve with crunchy corn tortilla chips for a delightful twist on this classic dish. And don’t forget a classic Margarita or even an ice-cold beer to complement this light yet satisfying meal.

​You can also poach the shrimp first. Add flavor but poaching in a broth. You can add bay leaves, peppercorns etc.

The Best Side Dishes for Ceviche

Best Side Dishes for Ceviche:

  • Plantain Chips: The crispy texture of plantain chips provides a delightful contrast to the tender, tangy ceviche. Their subtle sweetness enhances the citrusy flavors. 
  • Sweet Potato Fries: The slightly sweet and earthy taste of sweet potato fries pairs perfectly with the fresh and zesty ceviche, creating a satisfying balance of flavors. 
  • Corn Tortilla Chips: The crunch of corn tortilla chips adds an enjoyable texture to each bite of ceviche, while their mild flavor allows the ceviche to shine. 
  • Buttery Avocado: Creamy, rich avocado slices offer a luscious and mild contrast to the bright acidity of the ceviche, making for a harmonious combination of flavors and textures. 
  • Black Beans and Corn Salsa: The hearty black beans and sweet corn salsa provide a satisfying and flavorful accompaniment to the light and refreshing ceviche, adding depth to the overall dining experience. 

Ceviche for Special Occasions

It’s a versatile dish that impresses with minimal effort, making it perfect for entertaining guests because you can serve it individually plated like I like, for the WOW factor. Or serve it family style in a large bowl.

The vibrant colors and fresh, zesty flavors of Peruvian ceviche make it an ideal appetizer or main course for gatherings, whether it’s a family celebration or a dinner party with friends. The lightness of the dish is especially delightful for warm-weather events, offering a refreshing and satisfying option that pairs perfectly with the festive atmosphere. 

Us making ceviche for special occasions always turns heads and sparks conversations. The vibrant citrus juices, tender seafood, and a touch of spice create a burst of traditional flavors that will have everyone coming back for more. It’s the perfect way to elevate any event without spending hours in the kitchen. If you plan some of the components ahead of time, you can have this main dish ready to go in less than 30 minutes. Why? Because it you don’t need to cook the fish. You don’t even have to marinate it long. All it takes is 15-30 seconds! 

So, whether it’s a casual backyard barbecue or an elegant soirée, ceviche is our go-to dish for leaving a lasting impression on our guests. 

Storing Leftover Ceviche? I don’t recommend it.

I really don’t. While you might hear that storing it in an air-tight container will work, all you’re doing is marinating the fish more. It’s just not going to taste the same. Fish ceviche is meant to be consumed and enjoyed fresh. Remember, when my mom asked for help to make ceviche, she called me after she marinated the fish the night before. At that point, there was no way I could help her make the ceviche taste good. 

For the Mexican style campachena it’s different. Because you’ve poached the shrimp, it’s cooked. This one can be stored but I would eat it all the following day.

The First-Time Ceviche Maker’s Guide

When it comes to seafood, look for high-quality, fresh fish or shrimp. The key is to use raw, high-grade seafood, and the best way to ensure that it’s fresh is to buy it on the day you plan to make your ceviche. Remember that the texture and flavor of your ceviche will rely heavily on the freshness of your ingredients, so don’t compromise on this.

Many who said they have tried ceviche and didn’t like it probably did not eat it the way it should be. Perhaps not their fault. If it was served the wrong way, “cooked” the wrong way (marinated too long!) or poor quality fish or seafood was used, then the experience would naturally suffer.

When selecting citrus juice for your ceviche, opt for fresh lime juice or other citrus juices like orange or grapefruit. Citric acid from the juice is what “cooks” the seafood, so it’s crucial to use freshly squeezed juice. Do not use bottled juices or concentrates. They are NOT going give you the same experience. Not the same quality and flavor.

Setting The Table for a Fresh Farewell

You can enjoy the delicious simplicity of ceviche and be inspired to create your own variations for your next easy dinner. 

Whether it’s fish, seafood, or even conch, the versatility of ceviche makes it perfect for any occasion. Ceviche is something we make at home often because it’s really so easy to put together. Here are a few of the variations of our favorite ceviche recipes: fish, shrimp, octopus and even conch (which is popular in Anguilla, where we lived for almost 5 years). 

If you want to learn how to craft more 30-Minute Restaurant Quality Meals to WOW your family and friends, you can sign up for our Masterclass Series where we drop a new recipe and cooking video lesson monthly.

You’ll get a shopping list with all the ingredients and equipment needed (they’re probably already items you already have in your kitchen). You’ll also get a step-by-step video to guide you through the recipe to ensure your success. Our members love the videos because I always pepper in restaurant tips and tricks. In addition we also host monthly LIVE Q&A calls where we get together with other members, hang out and answer any and all of your questions.

Join a group of other ambitious and adventurous home chefs that love to craft quality meals with their family. You’ll be part of the private group where members proudly share the dishes that they’ve made for their happy families. On a daily basis you can jump into the community to ask questions. We want to be sure you’re supported through your cooking journey and have the help you need from a professional chef.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up below to get our FREE digital magazine to get fresh inspiration for cooking and entertaining. We're sharing seasonal recipes, holiday trends, gift guides and all the fun stuff to make the kitchen the heart of your home.

be the host with the most

cooking, eating & entertaining made simple at home

I want a copy!

Join our community of aspiring home chefs and passionate entertainers. Elevate your cooking skills and host like a pro!

No spam. Just inspiration.

weekly-ish Newsletter
cooking & Hosting inspiration