Fresh, lively, and flavorful, my best shrimp ceviche is jam-packed with tomato, cucumber, avocado, onion, cilantro, and jalapeno—plus, of course, tons of citrusy shrimp!
You’ve probably had ceviche. A base of fresh seafood plus flavorful add-ins, it’s one of my favorite things to order in a Latin restaurant.
But have you ever made it? It’s really easy to do. And I’m confident that my shrimp ceviche is the best shrimp ceviche—give it a try!
Does Ceviche Mean Raw Fish?
Maybe you’ve heard that ceviche is raw. That’s sort of true and sort of not. Ceviche—whether it’s made with shrimp, fish, or other shellfish—isn’t cooked with heat. Instead, the seafood is marinated in citrus juice, typically lime, lemon, or a combination. Over time, the acidity of the juice denatures the proteins in the seafood, which is akin to what cooking does, turning the seafood opaque, firming it, and giving it a taste and texture similar to cooked. So it’s essentially cooked, just not in the way we’re most familiar with.
Why not just cook it with heat? Some recipes do recommend a light poaching before marinating, and even I recommend it if your shrimp isn’t really fresh. But I prefer to just let the acidic citrus juices do their thing—it’s simpler, easier, more in line with the fresh and refreshing attitude of ceviche, and better for infusing the seafood with citrus flavor through and through.
BUT I understand that some people just don’t like the idea of uncooked seafood, no matter how denatured its proteins. If that’s you—or you’re not certain about the freshness of your shrimp—simply poach it until it’s barely cooked, about 3 minutes, before proceeding with my recipe below (click here for how to poach shrimp).
(Still can’t get into ceviche? Try my Mexican Shrimp Cocktail, aka Coctel de Camarones.)
Secrets To Great Ceviche
First and foremost, great ceviche starts with great seafood. That means ideally buying it at a good fish market where you know there’s a lot of turnover and their standards are high. But even there I prefer to buy my shrimp frozen—most frozen seafood goes into the freezer right on the boat after its caught, so it can be “fresher” than fresh. (Here’s how to thaw frozen shrimp.)
What size for the shrimp? It doesn’t really matter, because you’re going to chop it up anyway.
Once you have great seafood, don’t water it down with less-than-great add-ins. In other words, make sure your tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, onion, cilantro, and jalapeno are their ripest and most flavorful.
Plus, use fresh citrus juices, not bottled. They, too, have the most flavor.
I like my ceviche simple, with just good tortilla chips alongside. But plantain chips and even potato chips are also good. Or go Peruvian style and serve your ceviche with lettuce leaves, slices of sweet potato, and corn on the cob, making it more of a meal.
If you want to be fancy, scoop your ceviche into individual glasses or small bowls. Martini glasses, stemless wine glasses, or ramekins, for example.
I tend to reach for one big family-style bowl so everyone can dig in. It’s more casual, like me. :)
Ceviche Fun Fact
That leftover marinade in the bowl after you’ve enjoyed your ceviche? Drink it up, especially if you’re recovering from, well, a wild night. Those juices are known as leche de tigre, or tiger’s milk, and are thought to be a great hangover cure!
Fresh, lively, and flavorful, my shrimp ceviche is jam-packed with tomato, cucumber, avocado, onion, cilantro, and jalapeno—plus, of course, tons of citrusy shrimp!
- 1 lb. raw shrimp (here’s how to thaw it if you bought it frozen), peeled and deveined, or shrimp that has been poached until it’s barely cooked, about 3 minutes (here’s how to poach shrimp)
- 1 cup diced cucumber
- 1 cup diced tomato
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno, halved, seeded, and finely diced
- 1/4 tsp. salt, or more to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Cut the shrimp into rough 1/2-inch pieces and put it in a large non-reactive bowl (glass or stainless steel, for example).
- Add the cucumber, tomato, onion, jalapeno, and salt. Stir in the lime juice and lemon juice.
- Set aside in the refrigerator until the shrimp is opaque and firm, about 1 hour (but if you’re not going to serve it right away, it’s okay to leave it there for up to a few hours).
- Stir in the avocado, cilantro, and more salt to taste and serve.