Original article published at TasteAtlas.
Ceviche is the national dish of Peru consisting of slices of raw fish or shellfish that is spiced with salt, onions, and chili peppers, then marinated in lime juice. Due to the acidity of lime juice, the texture of the fish changes, as does its color – from pink to white.
The acidic marinade, also known as leche de tigre (lit. tiger’s milk) “cooks” the meat without any heat involved in the process. For ceviche, fresh fish is an imperative, as fish and shellfish that are not fresh can cause food poisoning. Peruvians are used to fresh ingredients, so the fish will sometimes be prepared for ceviche less than an hour after being caught.
Fish for ceviche can be divided into three categories: firm, medium, and soft. The dish was originally made by the natives who marinated fish and amarillo chiles in the juices of a native fruit called tumbo, which was replaced by lime juice when the Spanish brought limes and onions to the country.
The flavors of ceviche are slightly acidic and spicy, with an intense aroma of the sea. Traditionally, it is served on a bed of lettuce with tiny pieces of corn, chunks of sweet potato, and boiled yuca. Cancha, a variety of popcorn made from large corn kernels toasted in salt and oil provides an ideal side dish.
The dish is traditionally served at cevicherias, specialized ceviche restaurants that can be found all over the country, and it is so popular that it even has its day, known as National Ceviche Day.
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