Aside from the bull’s penis ceviche, previously discussed in this very blog, I’ve pretty much liked every version of ceviche I’ve had.
By DAVE ECKERT
And, let me tell you, I’ve had plenty.
While the exact history of this seafood-based dish is disputed, the deliciousness of ceviche is not.
Possible origin sites, according to Wikipedia, include the western coast of north-central South America or Central America. The website What’s Cooking America, on the other hand, says ceviche’s birthplace is more definitely either Peru or Ecuador.
Personally, I don’t care where it comes from. It rocks!
And, according to my most recent, extremely non-scientific findings, some of the most delicious and affordable ceviche is emanating from Mexico.
Of course, I say this with a fair amount of bias, having recently returned from a seven-day sojourn into Mexico in the ceviche-rich area of the Riviera Maya.
For those unfamiliar with the dish, ceviche isn’t cooked in the traditional way. Rather, it’s prepared fresh with citrus fruits, primarily lemons and limes, providing the necessary cooking — the citric juice replacing the heat.
Ceviche is usually made with whatever local fish happens to be fresh and handy, but I’ve had shrimp, octopus, calamari and mussel ceviche as well.
Ceviche, seviche or cebiche, depending on where you get it, is almost never served on its own.
In Peru, it’s accompanied by slices of cold sweet potatoes or corn-on-the-cob. In Ecuador, it comes with popcorn, nuts, or corn nuts. And, in Mexico, ceviche is usually served with raw onions and toasted tortillas.
For me, a bag of tortilla chips and a platter or bowl of ceviche is all I need.
While in Mexico, we were lucky enough to have our own digs complete with a full-service kitchen.
I wouldn’t want to undertake a dinner party for eight out of our Mexican kitchen, but I did lunch every day — sometimes four different meals for four different people — which worked out great.
Meanwhile, the full-sized fridge allowed me to store and sample all the ceviche I could handle.
So, off to the Mexican supermarket chain The Mega I went with frightening frequency. I think I hit The Mega five, maybe six, of the seven days I was in country.
And, on nearly all of those days, I stopped by the seafood department and picked up some ceviche.
The Mega makes fresh ceviche every day. While some people might think I’m crazy to buy and consume what basically amounts to raw fish in a Mexican market, I have never had an issue stomach-wise or otherwise.
I do have a some rules when it comes to buying fresh seafood, whether it be in the United States or abroad.
The main one is odor. There shouldn’t be any. If you’re getting a fishy smell from the seafood department, I’d head to the meat department or to another store.
That’s my point about the ceviche at The Mega — there was no odor other than the citrus scents of the lemons and limes.
The ceviche was good, really good. I had the octopus, shrimp and fish versions over the course of my week south of the border and I can’t wait to get back for more. Not only was the ceviche good, it was also cheap — the best combination of all.
A small container of the local fish ceviche set me back less than a $1, the octopus was about $2 and the shrimp was under $3.
Maybe someday I’ll regret buying ceviche in a Mexican supermarket. But right now, I only regret not having any in front of me.
Dave Eckert is the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS-TV and Wealth TV for 12 seasons, or nearly 300 half-hour episodes produced on six continents. Eckert is also an avid wine collector and aficionado, having amassed a personal wine cellar of some 2,000 bottles.