Guide to Peruvian food: Ceviche

Peruvian ceviche

The Pride of Peru

Although many Latin American countries lay claim to ceviche, I’m going to remain unashamedly biased, and uphold Peru’s claim to the dish. Gastón Acurio, from one of Lima’s top restaurants Astrid y Gastón agrees, explaining that because of Lima’s prominent position on the coast and its strategic importance as a trading base for the Spanish conquistadores, dishes like ceviche quickly spread to other Spanish colonies, and became assimilated into their own local cuisine.

Although there are many variations, even within Peru, ceviche is essentially strips of raw fish which are ‘cooked’ in lime juice. In Peru it’s usually served up with red onion, cilantro (coriander), aji amarillo – a flavoursome and spicy indigenous chili pepper, sweet potato and choclo, a local variety of corn with giant kernals.

Whilst there are a wide array of restaurants we can recommend for you try this classic dish, my colleagues and I recently had some exciting ceviche experiences that we’d like to share.

Lima with Zest

Matt, Erika, Silvana and Claudia from Aracari’s sales team recently went on Aracari’s Lima with Zest tour – one of our best selling experiences in Lima. Led by local chef Penelope Alzamora this is a great hands-on introduction to Peruvian food, including a cooking lesson where you prepare ceviche and other classic Peruvian dishes. For a full description of Lima with Zest, check out our previous blog about the experience.

I recently opted for a truly local experience, at a bustling marketing in Lima.

The freshest ceviche in town

A great experience is to eat Peru’s celebrated national dish right in the fish market. Last Saturday, bright and early, I headed to Mercado Central in downtown Lima. The market sprawls across two levels of an entire city block, and spills out into the streets and buildings that surround it. I found a popular local fish bar, right opposite fishmongers chopping up and selling fish – so not for the squeamish!

I was served up a delicious fish broth with delicate flavours of the sea, followed by a huge plate of fresh ceviche, probably made with fish from the stall next door. It was absolutely delicious.

Of course not everyone will enjoy eating in a fish market and many might prefer the comforts and hygenic standards of a restaurant (there are no shortage of great options in Lima –  we have plenty of recommendations to suit different budgets in our free culinary guide). But for me, this was a way to experience the real deal: ceviche local Limeño style. I was eating the freshest fish in town, smelling the fish that permeates the whole market (not a subtle odor!), seeing fish being chopped up and gutted a few feet away from me, and hearing the constant shouting from the fishmongers all around me.

This was without a doubt a memorable ceviche experience.

Try it at home

For tips on making your own ceviche at home, have a look at our blog for National Ceviche Day which includes an easy to follow recipe, or check out Marisol’s video demonstration.

If you’re a foodie who loves to experience travel through your taste buds, Aracari can serve up the perfect trip with a myraid of ways to try ceviche: stroll a coastal city market to buy the freshest fish before making a seafood spread in the home of a top chef; learn from world’s best with a private class at acclaimed restaurant El Mercado; or explore Lima’s eateries with food tour Urban Eats, sampling ceviche served up in different ways. Contact us at travel@aracari.com to start planning your trip.

Read the previous blog post in our culinary series here: Guide to Peruvian Food: Causa

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