Tilapia Ceviche is a tangy, tart, and flavorful Central and South American appetizer. Lime juice is used to “cook” tender whitefish, which is then served with salty pastry cups. Your taste buds will be ecstatic.
Ceviche is a South American and Central American dish. Its origins are a point of contention among Central and South American nations.
Prior to the conquest by the Spaniards, the indigenous people prepared ceviche by marinating it in a fermented maize juice called “chicha.” Citrus became popular after the arrival of the Spaniards.
As a side note, I’d like to point out that the Arabs were the ones who first introduced citrus fruits to Spain (they occupied the Iberian peninsula for about 700 years). I’ve also read that the Spanish nobility who migrated to the New World brought with them Arab cooks who used citrus in their pickling techniques.
Fish For Ceviche
Ceviche is best served with one of the best fish like a mild white fish. Because the fish I grew up with, corvina (a mild-tasting white fish with firm meat), is not readily available in my area in the United States, I use tilapia. I don’t believe that using tilapia compromises taste or texture. Ceviche can also be made with octopus or shrimp.
Ceviche is served as an appetizer at most seafood restaurants in Latin America, as well as at many appetizer parties. It is sold as street food in many South American countries. It was always a Christmas and New Year’s tradition when I was a kid.
I have served tilapia ceviche to my sushi shy friends and they have all loved it, since I tend to fib a bit and tell them that it is “pickled.” They still don’t know my little secret!!!
This dish is so popular in Panama all the grocery stores sell small pastry cups to serve with ceviche. Here in the USA I serve my tilapia ceviche with Scoops!
Tilapia Ceviche Recipe
Ingredients to Make Tilapia Ceviche
- 1 pound white saltwater fish tilapia works especially well
- 1 cup lime juice fresh squeezed – – or enough to cover cubed fish
- 2 Tbsp. orange juice fresh squeezed – or bitter orange is better
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt paleo diet: sea salt
- 1 tsp. lime zest
- ¼ tsp. sugar
- 1 jalapeno cored, seeded and diced
- 1 red onion sliced very thinly into half-moons
- 2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
Instructions to Make Tilapia Ceviche
- Cut the fish into small pieces: You can dice it or leave it in pieces up to ½ inch square, but remember that the larger the pieces the longer it will take to “cook.”.
- Salt the fish, then cover with the citrus juice in a non-reactive (glass preferably) container with a lid. Add the sliced onions, jalapenos, lime zest and sugar.
- Chill in the fridge for about 4 hours. When you take it out of the fridge add the cilantro and stir. The “cook” time is the time in the fridge. The acid will “cook” the fish to a nice consistency.
- To serve: place ceviche in a glass bowl and scoop using a plastic serving spoon. DO NOT use a metal spoon because the acid will react with the metal.
- Ceviche is so sharp and acidic it cries out for beer and tortilla chips as an accompaniment — although you won’t find tortilla chips in Peru. In Peru, you will most often find this served with potatoes, either sweet or white.
Tilapia Ceviche Recipe Notes
- Use fresh limes put all the sliced pieces of tilapia in a glass or ceramic dish. Do not use a metal prep bowl.
- Be sure to use enough lime juice to cover the tilapia and you can cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator while the acid “cooks” it. The tilapia will actually turn white just as when you cook with heat.
- When the tilapia turns a bit firm and white it will be done. This usually takes 3 to 4 hours.
- If you want to make ceviche that really has some heat we would take 3 or 4 of the Panamanian version of the habanero or scotch bonnet peppers, core them, remove the seeds and place large slices into the dish while the lime juice cooks the fish. Once it is finished and tilapia ceviche ready to serve, remove the slices of those habanero peppers.