Ceviche - Seafood Dish

The cebiche, ceviche, sebiche or seviche (according to the Royal Spanish Academy, can be written in these four ways, depending on the place) is a dish consisting of marinated meat - fish, seafood or both - in citrus dressings. Different versions of the cebiche are part of the culinary culture of various Latin American coastal countries of the Pacific Ocean, from which it is native, being Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru, in the latter it is considered as cultural heritage.

Among the citrus fruits that are mostly used are lemon and acidic lime, although sour orange was historically used. The dressing also includes some local variety of chili or chili, replaced by mustard in some locations in Central America. Some preparations include chopped cilantro and in the rest of the countries (except Chile, Panama and Peru) the addition of tomato sauce is common. The meat is usually marinated together with onion in wedges or minced, in Mexico it usually also includes tomato and avocado.

The accompaniments of the cebiche can also be different, in Ecuador with banana patacones, canguil or chifles and in Colombia and Panama it is usually accompanied with salted soda crackers. Varieties to the north usually use cookies or toast garnish. In Mexico it is served with corn toast or with crackers, in Panama an extra option is the spicy chili pepper to taste, and in Peru it is served with garnishes of boiled roots such as sweet potato or cassava, very rarely accompanied by potatoes, grains such as corn (boiled ortoasted), legumes such as zarandaja, fried plantain (chifles), seaweed and lettuce. Sometimes it can be accompanied by chilcano (fish-based broth).


For the etymology of the word "cebiche", different hypotheses have been established. Both language academies, Peruvian and Spanish, differ in their positions. The Peruvian Academy of Language follows the hypothesis proposed by Federico More in an article published in 1952 in the newspaper El Comercio, which indicates that cebiche would come from the word "bait". This argument is based on the fact that the term "bait" during the sixteenth century was used to designate meals in a derogatory or diminutive tone according to their small value or small size (for example, "eating and carrying" snacks), then the name "cebiche" would have been given to the plate due to the small size of the pieces in which the fish was cut. Martha Hildebrandt, linguist Peru, in his Dictionary peruanismos refers to the productivity of the suffix of origin mozárabe -iche, the Royal Spanish Academy adhered to this etymology in its 1984 dictionary onwards. In 1992, he suggests that the word "cebiche" could have the same etymology as the term "pickled", which descends from the Mozarabic Iskebêch which, in turn, derives from the Andalusian Arabic as-sukkabāǧ, which also derives from classical Arabic sakbāj (سكباج, cooked in vinegar), and the latter comes from ancient Persian sikbāǧ, where sik means "vinegar" and bāǧ "soup". On this hypothesis, the use of the term "leave escabechar" is I used in Peruvian recipes from the nineteenth century to refer to the period of cooking fish based juice sour orange. In the recipe book Eclectic cuisine (1890), by the Argentine Juana Manuela Gorriti, the mention of "let them pickle" appears in this regard.

According to Peruvian geographer and historian Javier Pulgar Vidal, the name "seviche" comes from the word Quechua Siwichi, whose meaning would be 'fresh fish' or 'tender fish'. One hypothesis proposes that the words siwichi and sikbaǧ were confused during the conquest of the Inca Empire by the Spanish.

Research by historian Juan José Vega suggests the origin of the word "cebiche" to the Arabic term Sibech. In these recounts how women moriscas taken as war booty by the armies of the Catholic Monarchs in Granada mixed juice of sour orange, then lemon juice, and raw fish.

On the other hand, the gastronomy scholar Carlos Raffo Dasso, tells that the English sailors who arrived at the Peruvian ports with canker sores in their mouths, when savoring the fish dish, exclaimed "somabitch" or "sonfabitch" (contraction of English "son of a bitch") due to the burning caused by chili and lemon. The locals understood that foreigners said "seviche". Another proposal is that the name would derive from the expression be beach, old English sailor dish.

According to Alfredo Torero, the name of cebiche or seviche, as well as marinated, is an Arabism, anchored on the west coast of South America. The etymon can be saqbache according Drae or çicbech according VOX. In addition there is a Quechua hollqque voice, which is an "agiaco of raw and crumbled meat soaked in agi" citing Gonzales de Holguín.


As for its origin, several explanations are given. According to some historical sources in Peru, the cebiche would have originated among the Moche, a coastal civilization that began to flourish between the first and second centuries in what is now northern Peru. The Moche apparently used the fermented juice of the curuba premises. Recent research also shows that during the Inca Empire, fish were marinated with the use of chicha, an alcoholic beverage Andean Different chronicles also report, that along the Peruvian coast before the arrival of the Europeans, the fish was consumed with salt and chili. On the other hand, this theory states that the natives simply switched to the citrus brought by the Spanish colonizers, but the principles of dish preparation were essentially the same.

Its origin is attributed to places ranging from Central America to the Polynesian islands in the South Pacific. In Ecuador, may have had its origins in coastal civilizations, as both Peru and Ecuador have shared cultural heritage (such as the Inca Empire) and a variety of fish and shellfish. The cebiche is not native to Mexico, although the dish has been part of traditional Mexican coastal cuisine for centuries. The Spaniards, who brought citrus fruits like lime from Europe, They could have originated the dish in Spain with roots in Moorish cuisine. Fernando Rueda García, a Malaga historian and member of the Andalusian Ethnology Commission, suggests that they were Moorish slaves who created the cebiche by mixing the local and foreign ingredients that were coming to the Peninsula, which the Spaniards argue that the cebiche originates in his country. However, there is no fish or shellfish dish with such preparation in today's Spanish cuisine, so this theory has shortcomings.

Central America

In El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, the dish includes fish marinated in lemon juice, salt, black pepper, onions, coriander, finely chopped chilies and garlic. It is customary to serve it on a plate with a leaf of lettuce or alone and cookies soda on the side. Popular condiments are tomato sauce and mayonnaise or tabasco. The fish used is mahi-mahi, shark, marlin or tilapia, but also with mere is popular. As well as octopus preparations, oysters, mussels, black shells, shrimp or chuchecas among other seafood, or the mixture of all the mentioned seafood plus shrimp, which is called "come back to life".


In Chile, cebiche is a common dish of the south-central and southern cuisine of the country. The variety consumed in the southern zone differs from the preferred one in the extreme north, similar to that prepared in Peru, mixed with chili pepper, being saltier than its Peruvian pair.

The cebiche tasted in the rest of Chile is usually a preparation of shredded fish or very small pieces of white meat, such as sea bass and reinette, accompanied with diced white onion, coriander and macerated for hours in some acid, mainly lemon. In the south of the country, a variant of the cebiche with salmon meat as a base began, which is prepared with white onion, red and green paprika and coriander.

The influence of Peruvian immigrants has increased the consumption of the Peruvian variant in the central zone of Chile using large pieces of fish, purple onion cut in feather and macerated with lemon in minutes.


Cebiches or shrimp cocktails, oyster, crab, squid, chipi chipi, among others, and combinations of them are prepared. The sauce includes tomato sauce, mayonnaise, garlic sauce, coriander, chopped white onion, lemon juice, among other condiments. They are accompanied with salty soda cracker.

Costa Rica

The cebiche is prepared with onion, sweet pepper and cilantro castilla. Commonly used are varieties of fish such as marlin, tilapia or sea bass and in addition to lemon juice, Ginger Ale is also used to macerate for a few hours. It is commonly served with soda cookies on the side, adding tomato sauce and mayonnaise is the personal taste of those who consume it. It is also usually mixed with fried foods in its packaging, popularly called as broth.


There are different types of cebiche in Ecuador, depending on the region. It is a typical dish of the coast, although there are places in the mountains and the Amazon that have their version. There are preparations based on various types of oysters, shells, shrimp, fish, crab, lobster and prawns. It is one of the most consumed dishes in the country. It is sold on the beaches by artisanal chefs and in popular and gourmet restaurants around Ecuador. It is also prepared in a home on holidays or special occasions. It is served as a main course or in small portions as an entree.

Types of cebiche of Ecuador

  • Shrimp cebiche: It is the most common is sold on the coast, it is prepared with boiled shrimp, lemon juice, orange juice, tomato, coriander, pepper, red onion chopped in pen in abundant quantities. Its marinade and accompaniment varies regionally, incorporating or dispensing with orange juice or chili pepper and mustard, using roasted corn, patacones, chifles or canguil.
  • Fish cebiche: The classic or traditional one of the coastal region, in its preparation it is used of shark or saw fish, cut in cubes that are marinated in lemon juice, red onion cut in rings and marinated in lemon juice with salt, and chopped cilantro, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Oyster Cebiche: For the mule leg cebiche (giant oyster type) preparation is the same as raw fish. An oyster takes out a large plate of cebiche. This dish is typical of the coast, but mostly consumed in Guayaquil.
  • Shell Cebiche: It is prepared with fresh and uncooked shells, in the same way as raw fish but marinated in lemon juice with salt and mustard.
  • Octopus or squid cebiche: It is prepared based on marinated octopus. It is typical of the province of Manabí.
  • Lobster Cebiche: It is considered as an aphrodisiac dish in the coastal center region.
  • Vegetable Cebiche: In the Sierra, although it is true you can not give the products of the coast, but in Riobamba, capital of the province of Chimborazo, as well as in Ambato and Quito, the choc cebiche is made, whose preparation is the following: let the pussy soak overnight. The next day the chochos are cooked with water, an onion is added, also known as tanning, chopped tomato, coriander, salt, lemon and, if you like, you can add chili pepper. It is accompanied with roasted corn, canguil and green banana chifles. Palm heart cebiches are also made, or mushrooms that are prepared in a similar way to those of chochos.
  • Cebiche with peanuts: It is native to Jipijapa, its preparation consists of a liquid portion of peanuts and avocado added to the traditional fish cebiche. This dish is considered by many to be an aphrodisiac dish.
  • Liver ceviche: It is considered a tradition of the province of Loja, its preparation consists of beef or pork liver cooked in water with white onion and garlic then diced and marinated in tomato juice with lemon to which red onion is added chopped and cilantro, accompanied by roasted corn and canguil.


In Mexico, the dishes called cebiche are similar to the basic recipe described here, in general white meat fish is used and marinated in lemon juice, served cold or at room temperature. Some varieties are, for example, Acapulcan ceviche, Jalisco ceviche with very small particulate fish, such as ground beef and Sinaloa ceviche with larger pieces between 2mm and 5mm. Mexican recipes also use lemon and green chili (serrano), some recipes also include: tomato, onion, cilantro or parsley and sometimes cucumber, chopped, as well as sliced avocado, in some places they add pepperas a seasoning On the south coast of Veracruz, the shark ceviche is prepared in juice with cilantro, ketchup, hot sauce and lemon juice in cocktail glass, accompanied by toasted corn tortilla (tortilla chips or cacalas).

It is common octopus ceviche of shrimp sea and river shrimp. It is consumed in the coastal zone of the Pacific states: Sonora, Sinaloa, Baja California, Nayarit, Colima and Jalisco. In Mexico ceviche is usually eaten on toast corn, also on saltine crackers or cocktail accompanied by chips, toast or crackers. You can season to taste with hot sauce, soy sauce or ketchup sauce.

Ceviche in Mexico can be a main course or an appetizer, or an entrance for main dishes such as seafood. It can be as a snack or as an accompaniment.


In Nicaragua the dish is preferably made with sea bass or dorado, onions, tomatoes, sweet chili in small squares and chopped coriander leaves, salt and pepper to taste. It is served cold or at room temperature accompanied by tostones and soda crackers.


In Panama, the cebiche is prepared with lemon juice, chopped onion, parsley, hot pepper, and salt. The sea bass cebiche is very popular and is served as an appetizer in most of the local restaurants. It is served with pastry shells that are popularly called "baskets" or with crackers.


The Peru is a country where the cebiche is considered by the population as part of the national identity, being a dish widely consumed over the entire northern coast of the country and also revered as a central element of its gastronomy, to the point having been formally declared as Cultural Heritage of Nation and cataloged by Peruvians as the dish that best represents their country. Its history dates back to pre-Columbian times. As in other countries, the dish is served in a type of restaurant known as cebichería.


In Ancient Peru, the Moche Culture prepared this dish based on fresh fish that was cooked with the fermented juice of tumbo, a fruit of local origin. During the Inca Empire, fish was macerated with chicha. Different chronicles report that along the Peruvian coast the fish was consumed with salt and chili.

Due to the marine origin of its main ingredient, some hypotheses place it in the cuisine of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific coast of South America, in the area of present-day Peru (near Piura). According to Peruvian historical sources, the cebiche would have originated in the first place in the Tallán culture, on the coast of its current territory more than two thousand years ago.

Subsequently, with the Hispanic presence two ingredients of the Mediterranean culinary custom were added: sour orange and onion. Juan Jose Vega in his shows work that women moriscas who came with Francisco Pizarro met the juice of sour oranges, pepper, fish and seaweed premises resulting in a new dish called sibech, which in Arabic language means "acid food".


The basic ingredients of any classic Peruvian cebiche are pieces of fish, onion and lemon juice, which must be exclusively piurano lemon, from the Chira Sullana valley, which is why it is said that the origin of the cebiche is from the Piura region, especially from the port of Paita. In Peru, the small, green and very acidic fruit of the Citrus × aurantifolia species (called "sour lime" in other countries) is called "lemon". Other ingredients such as red onion in julienne, coriander, corn and celery. Preferably, the fish should not have been caught with nets, but with hook, so as not to hurt the meat too much.

To prepare it, the fish is mixed in a tank together with the other ingredients, letting it marinate according to taste. In some places, such as in Lima and towards the north Peruvian coast, it is usually prepared and served instantly so that the fish does not get annealed with the lemon.

To the south, from the department of Arequipa, it is not strange that chopped celery is added to the "tiger's milk", which is the juice produced by the mixture of the ingredients of the cebiche, which has a slight spicy and acidic taste and the peculiarity of being a good restorer. Local custom recommends it as a breakfast for night owls and as an aphrodisiac. There is a variety called panther milk because of the dark color of the juice that is produced from the black shell ceviche, which can be found from the coast of Piura (where there is a variant of the black shell called "white shell") and the department of Tumbes, to the Central American Pacific.

Peruvian cebiche is traditionally served on a laid plate, it is both an entree and a main dish in the meal. However, in the haute cuisine it has been served in wide glasses and, very recently, sold in glasses on the streets as a snack.

Types of cebiche of Peru

There are different types of cebiche, as well as dishes derived from it, which have reached great popularity. It is important to note that not all cebiches are made from fish, they are also made from red meat, shellfish, crustaceans and vegetables.

  • Fish cebiche: It is the most common type of cebiche, prepared from cuts of pieces of fish in square form that are subsequently mixed with lemon and salt. Fillet mostly used corvina, flounder, kingfish, mackerel, nice, grouper, dogfish, parakeet, trout, bream, but also made with parts that have bones, as is typical of Piura with ceviche of mackerel.
  • Mixed cebiche: It is one that contains the same ingredients as the common cebiche, to which various seafood or fish have been added.
  • Black shell cebiche: It is a typical dish of the coast of Tumbes, made from the black shells and moored in the classic way with Chulucanas lemon, seasoned in red onion, garlic, chili pepper and finally Peruvian rocoto.
  • Shrimp Cebiche: It is a typical dish of the Arequipa region made with river shrimp.
  • Octopus cebiche: It is similar to the common fish cebiche, it differs from being prepared with tender octopus or passed through boiled water to soften its meat.
  • Tollo Cebiche: shark cebiche, typical of the Peruvian north coast.
  • Chinguirito: Typical of the north Peruvian coast, it consists of frayed dried guitar meat, a kind of stripe from the Sechura bay, marinated with lemon juice, chili pepper and red onion.
  • Amazonian Cebiche: It is typical of the Peruvian Amazon, it consists of being prepared with regional fish meat (from the Amazonian rivers), being able to be paiche, Amazonian dorado, Amazonian croaker, maiden, tiger catfish.
  • Duck Cebiche: Typical of the Norte Chico, it is made with Creole duck previously macerated in a mixture of chili pepper, garlic and lemon juice. The duck is then cut into pieces and cooked in a dressing with sliced onion. It is served hot with boiled cassava as a side dish.
  • Other cebiches: Other less common are the one of cañán, the one of criadillas, the cebiche of hard-boiled eggs, the one of green mango (consumed in the Peruvian jungle) and the one of bananas. There are also a variety of hot cebiches, such as chicken or stone cebiche.

Derived Dishes

  • Tiradito: It is a variant of the fish cebiche, probably of the Japanese sashimi. The difference is in the cut of the meat, which is made in thin slices. Its preparation is somewhat simpler, omitting the onion and adding yellow pepper or rocoto cream, in other cases olive sauce and garlic.
  • Tiger and panther milk: These are preparations based on the liquid resulting from the preparation of the cebiche. The "tiger's milk" is prepared based cebiche made with white fish, whereas the "panther milk" cebiche based on fish and black shells. Not to be confused with the cocktail "panther milk" which is milk mixed with pisco tiger. They are served pure or mixed with pieces of fish, shellfish and mountain range.


The trimmings of the Peruvian cebiches considered vary from region to region. In Lima, Chimbote and Trujillo the most common accompaniments are corn, mountain court, sweet potato boiled in water, yuyo, and lettuce leaves. More to the north, in Tumbes, Piura and Chiclayo is often accompanied with trifles and with chifles also often included cassava boiled, this is more common in Amazonian areas. In Sullanathe cebiche is accompanied with water biscuits. In San Martín, Loreto, Ucayali, Madre de Dios, the northern part of Puno, the Amazon area of Huanuco and Cuzco, almost all of Amazonas, and the Cajamarca city of Jaén accompany the cebiche with cassava, rice, coriander and chili pepper.

Sociocultural Impact

In Peru, the cebiche is officially recognized as "Cultural Patrimony of the Nation", as established by National Direction Resolution No. 241/INC of the National Institute of Culture, issued on March 23, 2004 and published in the Official Gazette El Peruvian, historically considered one of the main dishes of national cuisine. Likewise, by Ministerial Resolution 708/2008 of the Ministry of Production of the Republic of Peru, published on September 18, 2008 in the Official Gazette El Peruano, it was declared on June 28 of each year as the Day of the cebiche a Nacional level.

In December 2008, in the port of Callao, the largest cebiche in the world was prepared, using 7 tons of fish, 3 tons of lemon, 2.5 tons of onion, 0.2 tons of salt and 0.2 tons of chili pepper.

Public opinion polls usually conclude that cebiche is the most representative dish of Peruvian cuisine for the population of many areas of Peru, well above other dishes.

In September 2009, the British newspaper The Guardian drew up a list of "the 50 best things to eat in the world, and where to eat them," among which was the Peruvian cebiche made by renowned chef Javier Wong. Also in November 2011, the supplement Pots and Pans of the daily Clarin (Buenos Aires), highlighted the global recognition of the cebiche prepared by the Peruvian.

"Ceviche" is at the 2nd Position in this list.

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