Ceviche Battle: Peru Vs Mexico
ce·vi·che /səˈvēCHā/ – A South American dish of marinated raw fish or seafood, typically garnished and served as an appetizer.
I’ve tried both Peruvian Ceviche and Mexican Ceviche. So who wins in this South American Seafood Showdown?
Peruvian Ceviche has been declared the National Dish of Peru. It is so ingrained in the Peruvian culture that June 28 has been dubbed “Day of Ceviche”. Talking about loving a food? Peruvian ceviche is typically made of raw white fish (Corvina or Sea Bass) and mixed with red onions and chili peppers, and cooked with the acidity of limes. It is typically served with yams and sweet corn kernals. It can be an entire meal or simply an appetizer.
Mexican Ceviche is not a dish native to Mexico but has been adopted into the traditional coastal cuisine. The Mexican ceviche incorporates all forms of seafood: shrimp, octopus, tuna, mackerel, and squid. It is mixed with red onions, tomatoes, and avocados, and cooked with the acidity of lines. It used as a toastada topping or as a taco filling – typically an appetizer, not an entrée.
The differences in the ceviches are not subtle – although cooked with the signature acidity of limes, both dishes have different ingredients and cater to different appetites. So why is this so important to me?
I first tried ceviche in Peru. I instantly fell in love. I proclaimed eternal food lust towards this new and delectable dish. I ordered it most days for lunch, not only pumping up my protein intake and giving my body a lime cleanse, but enjoying every last bite of it. I was hooked.
So when I planned my trip to Mexico, and I learned that Mexico has its own version of one of my favourite meals, I was ecstatic to once again be united with the seafood dish I had dreamed about on a weekly basis. Yes, I dream about ceviche and sometimes I drool too.
When I arrived in Mexico and promptly ordered ceviche in the first restaurant I entered, my expectations were high and I was salivating as the waiter balanced my plate upon one hand and glided my way. I stared at the seafood glory that was ceviche and promised I would never go a month without indulging in its deliciousness again. And as I put the first spoonful into my mouth and started to chew, I quickly realized the ceviche taste I so longed for was not being met by the platter in front of me.
The seafood felt soggy and drenched in lime instead of the lime bursting the fish flavour out for my taste buds to enjoy. The tomato and avocado weren’t complimenting the dish and offsetting the full flavours the way the yam and the sweet corn kernals had so wonderfully in Peru. What was going on Mexico? Why was this ceviche not good?
So I dubbed it a bad restaurant experience and went in search of another locale to meet my ceviche needs. One restaurant after another I searched in vain, the ceviche was better at the next few restaurants, but it was nothing worthy of my ceviche adoration. Was I wrong about ceviche? Had I gone so long without it that I had built my expectations to high? Had I ruined one of my favourite meals for myself? I felt like crying.
Then I did my research – I poked my fork into my plate and analyzed the ingredients used. I noted the differences in ingredients and garnishes, and was aptly relieved to find that it was in fact not Ceviches fault – it was simply Mexico’s.