Ceviche, the bright, refreshing dish of fish marinated in citrus juice, is growing in popularity and can be found on more and more menus. Traditionally served in South and Central American coastal towns, ceviche is a very easy dish to make at home. But there are a few key things to keep in mind. The most important is to use the freshest fish possible and beyond that it's all about the marinating process, which works sort of like pickling.
First-time ceviche makers may find that what they make doesn't come out as good as what they've had at a restaurant. There may be a few mistakes you're making, though, like not letting the fish sit in the marinade long enough or using the wrong fish entirely. Our guide in the slideshow below shows you all the common mistakes that can happen when making ceviche. Learn how to avoid them and make the perfect ceviche every time.
Not Using The Right Fish
Most fish works for ceviche, But the best kinds are semi-firm white-fleshed ocean fish like sea bass, striped bass, grouper, sole or flounder. Stay away from oily fish like mackerel, sardines, tuna, bluefish or jack. Freshwater fish like trout or catfish don't really work either. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mountaincatking/7657648488/" target="_hplink">mountaincatking, Flickr</a>.
Not Using The Freshest Fish
Though it's not always possible, fresh caught fish makes the best ceviche. Otherwise, buy the freshest fish possible at the market. It's the single most important thing. Fresh fish smells like the ocean. It shouldn't be stinky. The flesh should appear glossy and iridescent, not opaque. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lornettes_pics/2574128220/" target="_hplink">Lornette's Pics, Flickr</a>.
Not Keeping The Fish Ice Cold
When you get your fish home from the store it's best to put it over ice and store in the fridge until you're ready to use it. Not only does this keep the fish fresh, it also will make for a better tasting ceviche when you serve it ice cold. Aim to make the ceviche the same day you buy the fish. If you're working with an especially large fillet, keep half of it over ice while you work on the other half. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/3072821281/" target="_hplink">stevendepolo, Flickr</a>.
Not Removing The Bloodline
When preparing fish for ceviche, before you even start to cut it up, you need to remove the bloodline. If left on the fish, the bloodline (the dark red portion on the fillet) will give the finished dish a really fishy flavor. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/brielegrandfromage/5069421452/" target="_hplink">brielegrandfromage, Flickr</a>.
Not Removing The Skin And Bones
Don't forget to remove the skin and any pinbones! Or have your fishmonger do it for you. You don't want to be biting onto a piece with skin or a sharp bone. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/archchef/150965277/" target="_hplink">ArchChef, Flickr</a>.
Not Cutting Everything To Size
When making ceviche it's important that the different components are evenly sized so they marinate evenly. This also helps with presentation and ease of eating. Your fish (and your vegetables) should be cut in an even chop or dice, respectively. The fish should preferably be chopped into large even chunks or sliced into thin pieces. The vegetables, such as peppers or onions, are best diced. But you can for presentation sake, slice the onions very thinly. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/suckamc/2318191663/" target="_hplink">Martin Cathrae, Flickr</a>.
Most chefs recommend marinating fish for ceviche for at least 10 to 20 minutes. It ensures the lime juice has been absorbed by the fish, turning it an opaque color. <a href="http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/07/the-food-lab-ceviche-and-the-science-of-marin.html" target="_hplink">Anything over an hour and you run the risk of the fish falling apart.</a> It's really best to make your ceviche fresh and serve it soon. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/viajescangrejo/5803156942/" target="_hplink">Los viajes del Cangrejo, Flickr</a>.
It's important to let your fish sit in the lime juice for at least 10 to 20 minutes to properly cure. Anything under that amount of time and the fish will stil appear raw and won't be tender enough or flavorful enough to eat. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuart_spivack/3534241479/" target="_hplink">stu_spivack, Flickr</a>.
Not Getting The Right Ratio Of Acid To Fish
You definitely need enough acid (lemon or lime juice) to properly make ceviche. <a href="http://ruhlman.com/2010/03/how-to-make-cevichered-snapper-ceviche-with-red-onion-and-jalapeno/" target="_hplink">Michael Ruhlman recommends a 1/2 cup of lime juice to 1 pound of fish.</a> This ratio will ensure the fish is properly cured and tender to eat. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sterlic/5870304156/" target="_hplink">Sterlic, Flickr</a>.
Combining The Ingredients Too Early
It's best to keep the fish separate from the vegetables until you're ready to serve. This prevents the vegetables or the fish from going mushy and from the different colors (especially if you're using red onions) to bleed together. When making ceviche, toss the fish in the lime juice and only mix in the vegetables once you're ready to serve. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/25609635@N03/5084894569/" target="_hplink">orchidgalore, Flickr</a>.