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Ceviche: A Tangy Bite from Beneath the Sea
One bright, refreshing way to kick off your meal is with ceviche. Shake hands with sushi’s Peruvian cousin with Groupon’s guide.
While the idea of marinating fish in citrus juice is almost as old as cooking itself, modern ceviche traces its origins to the coasts of Peru. There, generations of cooks have mingled the bountiful catches hauled in from Pacific waters with the tart juice of the limes first introduced by Spanish traders. These bits of cod, sea bass, and shellfish are left to marinate along with a simple spice blend of chili peppers, cilantro, onions, and salt. Over the course of the next hour or so, the acids in the juice work their chemical magic, denaturing the proteins in the raw seafood without the help of heat. The dish requires no elaborate culinary techniques, and as a result, cevicherias hawking fresh, inexpensive versions of the dish from simple thatched-roof buildings can be found throughout coastal Latin America.
Although the base recipe for ceviche may be simple, many variations exist. Some estimates put the number of different recipes found in Peru alone at more than 400. In Mexico, ceviche is often made with fresh tomatoes and served with tostadas; Ecuador favors a tangy tomato sauce similar to that used for shrimp cocktail and the addition of crunchy morsels such as corn nuts. The ceviches of Caribbean nations often make use of the region’s native ingredients—for instance, Puerto Rican varieties counter the acidic citrus base with creamy coconut milk. The various marinades contribute to a beloved byproduct of ceviche: leche de tigre, or tiger’s milk. Alone or in a glass with vodka or pisco, the leftover liquid is recommended as a bracing cure for the common hangover and as the only thing to serve at shark cocktail parties.