An Expert's Tip For Getting The Freshest Flavor In Your Ceviche

Ceviche is both easy to throw together and difficult to get right. With so few steps involved, each one of them needs to go well if you're going to end up with something not just palatable, but delicious. To get the facts on how to get the freshest flavor in our ceviche, we reached out to Chef Roberto Santibañez, cookbook author and chef + owner of Mi Vida and Fonda restaurants.

As you may already know, ceviche is made by soaking raw fish in fresh lime juice until the proteins have denatured, leaving you with a deliciously firm piece of meat. Chef Santibañez said, "I like to discard the initial lime juice and salt, and build out my ceviche adding more freshly squeezed lime juice for taste as needed." This is a great way to cut down on excess acidity and take back control of the flavors of the dish.

Knowing when to dump the lime juice is complicated since there are many opinions on what's best. Some people will marinate their ceviche for three or four hours, while others swear that the perfect marinating time is 15 minutes. The longer you keep the fish in the lime juice, the more the acid will break down the proteins. Some people complain that the fish becomes dry and chalky if it marinates for too long.

Balancing flavors

On the topic of flavors, his second tip was that he "also always add[s] a sweet element to balance out all of the acidity." This can be a splash of orange juice, some slices of mango, or a drizzle of honey. Much of the work behind cooking, especially when you're exploring new territory, is knowing how to keep the different aspects of the dish from overpowering everything else. Since lime juice plays such an integral part in how the dish is prepared, it can easily run the show. By adding a little bit of sweetness, you're going to get a bowl of ceviche that doesn't shock the taste buds quite so much.

Our recipe for ceviche uses rice vinegar in addition to lime juice to marinate the fish. Vinegar is also acidic, but the sour punch of pure lime juice is mellowed out by mixing it in.