One of the biggest factors
Originating from Peru during the colonial era, Ceviche has grown and developed over time into what we know it as today, but much of the tradition behind the dish has remained the same. Many regions of South and Central America have their own version of the dish, each adding their own regional flare. Ultimately, the base of fish in a tart juice stays the same wherever you are. My first experience with Ceviche was not on the coast in Lima like you would expect, but in the mountains, of Ayacucho. One Saturday my host mom, my little brother, and I were going to an open market to get groceries for the weekend. Before we went there we made a stop at a little Cevicheria in our neighborhood. When the waiter served us each a bowl brimming with marinated fish atop boiled potatoes, I was both nervous and excited to try this interesting dish. As I took my first bite, my mouth filled with saliva. It was spicy and tart, and the potatoes added a satisfying stability to an otherwise dynamic dish. I happily ate alongside my little brother, who ate his whole bowl in record time and even drank all of the extra liquid without even a second thought.
One of the most essential ingredients in nearly every Peruvian recipe is the aji pepper. There are many different types of aji peppers that Peruvians use on a daily basis to season countless dishes. These peppers are native to Peru and can be difficult to find if you are cooking outside of their native country. Try looking for these peppers in your local hispanic or South American food market or look online for purées or sauces that can be shipped to your home. If you have no other option, any type of chili pepper available can work. While it will not be an authentic Peruvian dish, it will get the job done and still be delicious. I also recommend using a white fish for is recipe. Look for sea bass, sole, or flounder in your local supermarket. You could also try the dish with shrimp or other types of seafood to add another dimension to the dish.
If you want to learn more about Peruvian cuisine and the culture behind it, I encourage you to order my cookbook, Buen Provecho! It is a collection of stories and recipes from the time I spent living and learning in Peru.
1 lb. of raw fish fillet
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 aji amarillo peppers, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 a cup lemon juice
1/2 a cup lime juice
1 Tbs. cilantro, chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 medium yellow potatoes
salt and pepper to taste
Boil the potatoes until just tender and then set aside. Wash the fish thoroughly with water and chop into 1" cubes. Slice the onions and soak in a bowl of water. Finely mince the aji and garlic. Then add the salt to the aji and garlic and mash into a paste with the side of your knife. Combine the fresh fish, lime and lemon juice, aji paste, onions, cilantro, and pepper to taste. Allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes and serve on slices of the potatoes.