The Secret Ingredient For Classic Ceviche

If you love sushi, then chances are you might be a big fan of ceviche, too. Another raw fish preparation that's beloved all over the world, ceviche is a South American dish of raw fish marinated in a brightly acidic dressing. According to What's Cooking America, the dish is "practically a religion" across Latin America, whose likely origins lie in either Peru or Ecuador — two of the largest consumers of ceviche today. Though the fish used in ceviche — which can vary from cod to mahi mahi to shrimp — is indeed utilized raw, its acidic soak helps to denature the protein in the fish much as cooking does, firming up the flesh and turning the seafood opaque (via Serious Eats).

There are probably as many ceviche recipes out there as there are palates, but one thing they all have in common is that acidic marinade. Ceviche liquid can contain a variety of acids ranging from lemon juice to lime juice and even grapefuit juice (via Greatist). As long as it's highly acidic, it will do the job of "cooking" the fish. In our Classic Ceviche recipe contributed by recipe developer Molly Madigan Pisula, the acid called for is an unexpected one: rice vinegar.

Rice vinegar helps balance the acidity in the ceviche

Undoubtedly the most common marinating ingredient found in ceviche is lime juice (via The Guardian). But as anyone who has tried a lime knows, the puckery fruit can sometimes verge on too acidic — at least for palates less accustomed to it. So in her recipe for Classic Ceviche, recipe developer Molly Madigan Pisula uses not just lime juice and zest, but she balances the marinade with an ingredient that's milder in flavor but still brings acidity to the party: rice vinegar.

"Typically, lime or lemon juice (or a combination) are used to make ceviche," Pisula told Tasting Table. "This recipe combines lime juice with rice vinegar, which adds just a touch of sweetness to the marinade. The flavor is really lovely and balanced, versus the sharper/more sour flavor of marinating the fish just with lime juice." Rounding out the bold flavors in Pisula's ceviche are diced red onion, cucumbers, bell and jalapeño peppers, and ripe avocado, plus — of course — plenty of chopped fresh cilantro. 

Pisula recommends serving the chilled marinated fish — in this case, a dice of sushi-grade snapper, bass, or halibut — with crackers, chips, or crostini.