The origin of ceviche has been much debated. Though most historians would agree that the seafood salad dish is from Peru, rather than Ecuador, it is unclear how it came about in the land of the Incas. One theory suggests that the Spanish brought it over along with their European citrus fruits like limes. Another theory is that Polynesian travelers brought over their tradition of marinating fish in citrus fruit juices in pre-Columbian times. And yet another suggests that ceviche was invented for a great Incan emperor so that he could still eat fresh fish while living in Cuzco by having it marinated in juices before being carried via relay runners to his throne.
Regardless of where it originated, it has certainly spread throughout Latin America picking up little variations depending on the most popular seafood in the local area and other culinary customs. Each country, of course, claims to have the best ceviche.
Peruvian Ceviche consists of fresh fish placed in Peruvian lemon juice (highly acidic green lemons) for only a few minutes and served with onions, garlic, and Peruvian chillies. It is often served with sweet potato or plantain chips.
Ecuadorian Ceviche is typically made with a tangy tomato sauce with lime and salt and often includes shrimp as the main type of seafood. It is usually served in a bowl with toasted corn kernels or plantain chips.
Costa Rica Ceviche is composed of fresh seafood, bell peppers, onions, vinegar, and lime juice and often includes white sea bass as the main type of seafood.
Mexican Ceviche can be served “wet” or “dry” where the “dry” is just the contents drained of the excess juices. It usually consists mainly of shrimp and tilapia and is typically served with tortilla chips or inside tacos.
There are, of course, other variations of ceviche that can be found just about anywhere fresh fish and seafood are caught directly from the water. Though there is no clear winner as to which country has the best ceviche, we try to make it a habit to taste test this delicious dish whenever we have the chance.