Recently I was talking with some friends from Peru, and they mentioned ceviche. I had no idea it originated in Lima in the 1970s, inspired by the many Japanese chefs living there. Now, it is considered Peru’s national dish.
After all, Peru has a long coastline and temperate climate. They have all the ingredients for a dish that relies on fresh fish marinated in lime juice.
They also shared that just about every country in Latin America has adopted ceviche and makes it their own unique way, with shrimp being the most common ceviche fish.
That’s exciting indeed, I had no idea how varied ceviche recipes could be, and the possibilities seem endless when paired with a myriad of Latin American side dishes!
Some of the best sides to serve with shrimp ceviche are inspired by Latin American culinary traditions. The best choices are something crunchy, like tortilla chips or fried plantains. However, coleslaw made with jicama is also just as satisfying.
For those who like their food picante, pair it with a bowl of roasted peppers. Or for a classical Peruvian pairing, serve it with sweet potatoes and corn.
If you’re creating a shrimp ceviche-inspired menu, then grilled beef makes a perfect main course pairing. But if you want to have ceviche as the main course, you can serve it like a taco dish, wrapped in a soft tortilla or with rice. If you prefer a fresher main course, include mangoes or white beans on a lettuce salad.
To keep the theme flowing, consider some special drinks and desserts for your family. Sparkling water with tropical fruit, beer, crisp white wine, and Japanese sake would pair perfectly. And of course, dessert must include that iconic Latin American ingredient, chocolate.
- Side Dishes For Shrimp Ceviche
- What Main Courses To Serve with Cerviche?
- Can Ceviche Be Served As A Main Course?
- What Is Ceviche?
- Final Considerations
Side Dishes For Shrimp Ceviche
James Beard, known as the Dean of American Cooking, most famously said, “Where would we be without salt?”
And this holds true of ceviche. Salty, crunchy sides are essential for blending the flavors and creating that addicting, just one more taste experience.
1.Tortilla Chips, Fried Plantains, and Potato Chips
Crisp, warm salty tortilla chips are how many of us first encountered ceviche. The texture of the chips, sturdy and crunchy, with a firm snap, is the perfect substitute for a spoon.
Whether you have tortilla chips or even potato chips, the salty, fried crisps will enhance the seasonings of the dish and allow the flavors and spices to linger.
In Latin America, you’ll also find fried plantains (sometimes called banana chips) and even saltine crackers as an accompaniment for ceviche.
Both of these have the same gratifying texture as tortilla chips but a milder taste than the corn tortillas.
Additionally , plantains have the added benefit of a little extra Vitamin A & C.
To serve ceviche for a party, I like to put the fish in a large bowl and surround it with a colorful assortment of chips and saltines.
It’s fun to try the different combinations and makes for a great conversation topic for your guests.
Coleslaw is a quick and easy side that everyone loves. But the marinated tangy fish flavors of ceviche tend to clash with the cabbage base of traditional coleslaw. So instead, try shredding jicama.
Grown mainly in Mexico and Central America, jicama tastes like a cross between a potato and a pear.
Juicy and crunchy, with a slightly sweet and nutty flavor, it’s a perfect substitute for cabbage in your favorite coleslaw recipe when pairing it with ceviche.
3.Roasted Chili Peppers
Peppers love the hot, humid climate of Central America, and you’ll find chillis in most ceviche.
And for those who can’t get enough pepper, you can also serve a bowl of roasted chili peppers.
The combination is magical; if you like the heat. The smokey, rich flavors play off each other deeming any addition of hot sauce unnecessary.
4.Sweet Potatoes and Corn
My friends from Peru tell me that cooked, chopped sweet potato is a must with ceviche.
And in the same bowl, “choclo” (giant white kernel corn) has to be there to blend the sweet, sour, and salty tastes without distracting from the taste of the fish.
We can’t get choclo in the States, but I hear that sweet corn is a good substitute.
I’ve never tried this version of ceviche with sweet potatoes and corn, but it’s something I look forward to experiencing soon!
What Main Courses To Serve with Cerviche?
It may seem daunting to try to pair foods with raw fish and lime. But if you think of ceviche as one part of the flavor wheel, filling up the acidic tart portion of your tastebuds, then foods that are higher in salt, carbs, and protein will help to round out the flavors of the meal.
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Steak is perfect for serving after ceviche because each flavor is on opposite ends of the flavor scale.
The citrus acidity of the marinate is on one side, and the umami of the grilled meat is on the other.
As the meat grills, the smoke permeates the steak delivering a mouthful of robust, earthy flavor with each bite.
You can choose to serve the steak whole, sliced, or even in fajitas. If you have extra time, make a classic Argentinian topping called chimichurri sauce.
It’s a mixture of parsley, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, jalapeno chilis, and oregano. No cooking, just a little extra chopping.
Can Ceviche Be Served As A Main Course?
Another main course alternative is to serve ceviche as the main course, and it’s a perfect solution for a busy weeknight dinner and easy entertaining.
Rice is a common accompaniment with ceviche and a great way to make a quick dinner. Choose your favorite type of rice and plate it side-by-side with the ceviche.
Because rice has a gentle, slightly flowery taste, it’s the perfect balance for the tangy flavors of ceviche.
When served on the same plate or bowl, the flavors will blend, and you’ll have a complete meal for your family.
It is true; you can eat ceviche without chips. Lettuce is a welcome flavor with ceviche, and its sweet, fresh, crisp crunch is just as satisfying as the tortilla chips, but without the oil.
Make a small bed of lettuce and place the ceviche on top. And depending on whether you want an earthy or sweet flavor, you can add white beans or mangoes to your salad. For the dressing, just add a little of the ceviche marinade.
In Mexico, it’s common to serve ceviche on top of a tostada. Like a taco shell, tostadas are about 5 inches in diameter and an excellent base for ceviche.
As a light lunch or a healthy dinner, add a variety of toppings and let your family assemble their favorite combination.
Creating new and interesting flavor combinations is what ceviche is all about.
In just a few decades, it has become an international sensation, made differently throughout Latin American countries.
The most common toppings for ceviche are the same ones you use for tacos: onions, olives, fresh tomatoes, avocados, and cilantro.
Some recipes call for mint, garlic, and spicy red chili peppers. Try different combinations and see which one will become your signature dish.
Typically, ceviche has coriander and cilantro in the marinade. However, in the Caribbean, it’s common to have ceviche served with allspice and habanero peppers.
If you like your food picante, then this is the version for you. However, at a restaurant, be sure to confirm with your waiter just how hot they serve it; or at least have a glass of milk handy to quench the fire.
The marinade, too, varies from country to county. But the main concept is the same: a citrus juice to “cook” the fish. Some use lime; others use lemon.
Many Central American countries add a few drops of Worchester sauce and Tabasco for a little extra flavor.
Again, feel free to experiment and create your own secret sauce.
Your tastebuds are getting quite a workout in a ceviche dinner, and the beverages are a good way to help unite the intense flavors of the dishes and bring everything back to the center.
11.Sparkling Waters With Fruit
Sweetened or unsweetened, mineral water is the perfect accompaniment for ceviche. The minerality balances the tart marinade and helps to highlight the freshness of the citrus. For a sweeter treat, add fresh berries to the water or a splash of lime.
In case you would rather have an adult beverage, look for a wine that would be called elegant, lean, pure, or acidic. You want a wine that is void of any oaky, buttery, or fruity elements.
Ceviche needs a wine with clean characteristics that won’t compete with the many interesting flavors of the dish.
You can choose from several wines, but for a recommendation, look for a Sauvignon Blanc from Chili, or an Albariño, sometimes called the wine of the sea, from Spain.
Latin American food is a cuisine made for beer. And now’s the time to experiment and find some interesting varieties.
Stick to a lighter one that won’t overpower the fish. You still want to taste ceviche’s oceanic and herbal flavors.
If there isn’t too much chili in your dish, I would suggest a light pilsner. If your recipe is quite spicy, you can pair a maltier beer because a touch of caramel sweetness helps the spice and smoke sing.
Peru and Japan have always had a close relationship, and with many similar cuisine elements, it’s not surprising that sake is a perfect pairing for ceviche.
Sake’s minerality and clean, crisp finish will not compete with the flavors of the ceviche.
Whether you’re choosing a spicy ceviche or a milder version, let your local wine dealer know, and they can choose a perfect compliment for your meal.
A dish as storied as ceviche, born in the shadows of the Incan, Mayan, and Aztec empires, wouldn’t be complete without a bit of chocolate.
Its luscious richness, in whichever form you serve it, perfectly complements the tangy flavors of the marinade.
What Is Ceviche?
Cerviche is a Peruvian dish of raw fish cubed and marinated in lime juice and spices. It is marinated for just a few hours and served chilled or at room temperature.
Though marinating is technically a cooking technique; however, it doesn’t destroy bacteria like heat. So be sure to have the freshest fish possible, and don’t leave it out too long.
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Shrimp Ceviche is not just one recipe but a starting point for many meals. And by varying the types of toppings, marinades, and side dishes, you’ll never serve the same dinner twice.
Roasted peppers, chips, jicama coleslaw, or roasted peppers are ideal side dishes for this classic meal.
Shrimp ceviche can also be the main course served on tostadas, rice, or on a bed of lettuce. Or, try pairing it with other main courses like grilled beef.
A refreshing glass of mineral water with a splash of fruit juice strikes the right balance to blend all these robust flavors.
A crisp wine or beer is also a nice choice. However, my favorite pairing is Japanese sake. For dessert, don’t forget a little chocolate at the end.
With all these interesting combinations for pairing with shrimp ceviche, it’s easy to see why it’s become a national dish and a favorite of so many people. With a bit of experimenting, it’s sure to become a favorite for your family too.
Kelly is a native of California. After graduation from UCLA, she began her travels living and cooking in Europe, Asia, and the Northwest. In Tokyo, she earned the Grand Diplôme, for both Cuisine and Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu.
Kelly is a freelance food writer. She started the website, Tokyo-Table.com, where she reviews Tokyo restaurants from the perspective of a professional chef. Kelly has written for publications in Asia and North America on all aspects of cooking. Kelly now lives in Los Angeles with her family and her vegetable garden.