Shrimp selection and acid-cooking
Although it seems anathema to the mantra of always cooking with fresh ingredients, it’s best to used frozen shrimp. Unless you live in area with access to the day’s catch, you can’t be sure just how fresh the shrimp is.
The lemon-lime acid “cooking” time will work just as well for cold-water shrimp as for warm-water shrimp. If you actually end up with leftovers and you used warm-water shrimp, you’ll want to drain off the acid and store it separately from the shrimp. Why? Warm-water shrimp left in acid too long can turn mushy-soft. Yuck.
Pick a pepper
A word about choice of peppers: Peruvian ceviche has a kick, but you can tone it down by your choice of peppers or by how much of the pepper you add to the recipe. The recipe below retains the kick, but it’s by no means overwhelming. And remember, not all jalapenos (or ajis or habaneros) are made alike. Some peppers of the same type can vary in their Scoville heat rating depending on where they were grown, how much rain they got, and when they were picked. Test your pepper to determine how much you need to add for your heat tolerance.
The scoop on serving
In Peru and most of Latin American, the “scoop” of choice for ceviche is patacones (fried green plantains). They’re easy to make. Once you try ceviche with hot-out-of-the-pan patacones, you may very well be a convert. Slices of steamed sweet potato are also a traditional side.
If you serve the ceviche with patacones, this dish can easily feed two people with moderate appetites as a meal all by itself. As an appetizer, it will serve 4-5 people.
For added heat, try dabbing a little of Don Tony’s Chili Salsa on your bite – it’s an amazingly bright, fresh and zippy salsa.
Peruvian Ceviche with Shrimp
- 1 lb raw jumbo shrimp 21/25 per pound
- 1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 small red onion
- ¼ cup finely chopped aji or habanero chili peppers
- ½ cup cilantro loosely chopped
- 1 tsp ginger grated
- If your shrimp is frozen, thaw it in an ice-water bath. Separating the shrimp will make the thaw go much faster; just let them soak a bit and gently separate them as the thawing process allows.
- For shrimp with shells and tails on, remove the shells and tails and de-vein the shrimp.
- Juice the limes and lemons, discarding any seeds, with a hand or electric juicer.
- Combine the shrimp and citrus juices in a bowl large enough to hold them. If your shrimp are not submerged in the lime and lemon juic, press them down gently and weight them with a plate, or add more juice. The citrus is what's doing the cooking, so you want to be sure the shrimp is completely covered with it.
- Refrigerate the shrimp in the citrus for about 45 minutes. Every 15 minutes, toss the shrimp and check to make sure they're turning opaque nicely, then refrigerate again.
- While the shrimp cooks in the refrigerator, cut the onion first on the equator, and then for each half onion, cut it down the pole. Thinly slice each quarter on the latitude.
- Finely dice your pepper of choice. Use disposable gloves if you have a pair – your fingers will thank you later.
- Rough chop the cilantro in the bunch in about ⅓" chops. No need to go back and cut the opposite way – just the one cut will do. Stems are okay to include, too – just not beyond the leaves, though, or they'll be too thick.
- Grate the ginger with a microplane or the fine side of a box grater.
- Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator and add the onion, cilantro and ginger. Serve on a bed of lettuce with your "scoop" of choice.