Classic Ceviche Recipe

A few decades ago, the thought of eating uncooked fish might have been unappealing or downright scary to many. Once sushi became popular, raw fish lost most of its stigma, and by now it's pretty mainstream. Ceviche is another raw fish dish, one that might be seen as Latin America's answer to sushi, minus the rice and seaweed. The seafood used in ceviche could be considered to be less raw than sushi, however, as it "cooks" by marinating in an acidic liquid.

Recipe developer Molly Madigan Pisula acknowledges that "typically, lime or lemon juice (or a combination) are used to make ceviche," but in her version she goes with different, special ingredient: rice vinegar. As she explains, "This recipe combines lime juice with rice vinegar, which adds just a touch of sweetness to the marinade." She finds that the sweeter vinegar makes her ceviche less sharp than just using lime juice alone, and notes that it helps make the dish's flavor "really lovely and balanced."

Choose your ingredients wisely

This recipe calls for a pound of fish — Pisula says snapper, bass, or halibut are good options. She also adds that "all kinds of white fish" work for ceviche and suggests cod, grouper, mahi mahi, rockfish, or tilapia as viable alternatives to the three she mentions in her ingredient list. Whatever type of fish you use, though, it should be sushi-grade. She also advises against using any fish that smells, well, fishy.

For the marinade, Pisula uses lime juice and zest, and rice vinegar. She also embellishes her ceviche with olive oil, salt, pepper, cilantro, a jalapeño pepper, and some veggies: a red pepper, a red onion, a cucumber, and an avocado. She admits that tomatoes are actually authentic for this dish rather than red peppers, but says, " I like the extra crunch with the red pepper." If you'd prefer a more traditional, less-crunchy ceviche, though, you can swap the bell pepper for plum tomatoes instead.

Marinate the fish

Chop up the fish into ¼-inch cubes. Put the fish into a non-reactive bowl — ceramic, enamel-coated, glass, plastic, or stainless steel would all work, but aluminum, cast-iron, and copper are out as the acidic marinade might pick up a metallic taste from these materials. Pour the lime juice and vinegar over the fish, add the lime zest, and gently stir so the fish chunks are all coated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the fish for 2 to 3 hours. Every ½ hour or so, try to remember to stir it.

Pisula notes that marinating time will vary, with larger chunks taking longer, but also says that "some people prefer their ceviche to not be fully opaque all the way through." If you are one of those people, you might want to choose a shorter marinating time. After a full 3 hours, Pisula advises that the "fish cubes should turn from translucent to almost entirely opaque white."

Prepare the vegetables

Chop up the onion, cucumber, and peppers into a fine dice — peeling the onions first, of course. Whether or not you peel the cucumber is up to you. You may also want to remove the ribs and seeds from the peppers, although Pisula does say, "If you'd like to make a spicier version of this dish, you can chop the jalapeño with its seeds rather than removing them."

Chop the cilantro, too, then mix it with all of the chopped vegetables, except for the avocado. This soft-bodied ingredient goes in right at the end.

Mix everything together

Once the fish is "cooked," drain it and then mix it with the peppers, onion, and cucumber. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper, then fold in the avocado. Add more salt and pepper if the dish seems a bit bland to you. You can also serve it with lime wedges to add a little more zing.

Pisula tells us that this dish can be prepared ahead of time, adding that "the flavors will meld nicely if it sits in the refrigerator for a couple of hours." She does caution, though, that the entire thing needs to be consumed within 24 hours. Try eating it on a bed of lettuce or accompanied by chips, crackers, or crostini.

Classic Ceviche Recipe
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This classic ceviche is loaded with veggies, fresh fish, and lots of tangy flavors.
Prep Time
Cook Time
ceviche on plate with chips
Total time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
  • 1 pound skinless snapper, bass, or halibut fillet, sushi-grade
  • ⅔ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • ⅓ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 small (or ½ large) cucumber
  • ½ large red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded
  • 1 avocado
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Optional Ingredients
  • lime wedges, for serving
  1. Cut the fish into very small cubes (about ¼-inch).
  2. Put the fish into a non-reactive container, such as a glass bowl.
  3. Cover the fish with lime juice, lime zest, and rice vinegar, and stir gently.
  4. Cover the bowl and put it into the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours, stirring approximately every 30 minutes.
  5. Finely dice the onion, cucumber, peppers, and avocado.
  6. Mix all of the vegetables, except the avocado, with the chopped cilantro.
  7. Drain the fish and stir it into the mixed vegetables.
  8. Stir the olive oil, salt, and pepper into the ceviche.
  9. Fold the avocado into the ceviche.
  10. Season the ceviche with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
  11. Garnish with lime wedges, if desired.
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