A national dish from Peru
Ceviche, seviche, or sebiche is perhaps one of the most recognized typical dishes that it has in Peru; and although its origins are still unknown and disputed by others, it is a culinary delight that has been prepared for many years, making it a representative of the Peruvian food.
It is not known exactly what the origins of ceviche were, but several theories are supported that make use of the name, place, and even ingredients that were changing as new cultures were involved with the preparation of this traditional dish.
It is believed that more than 2000 years ago on the Peruvian coast, the Mochica culture prepared a dish based on fresh fish, which was cooked with juice from local fruit, called tumbo; then, in the Inca era, fish was marinated differently, and it was until the arrival of the Spanish when the ingredients that we know today in ceviche were added.
According to the Peruvian historian Javier Pulgar Vidal, the name seviche comes from the Quechua word "siwichi", the meaning of which would be fresh fish or tender fish. A hypothesis proposes that the words siwichi and sikbaǧ were confused during the conquest of the Inca Empire by the Spanish, which made it become the name we know it with today. The dish was originally made by the natives who marinated fish and yellow chiles in the juices of a native fruit called tumbo, which was replaced by lime juice when the Spanish brought limes and onions to the country.
Its most traditional ingredients are white fish, lemon juice, red onion, chili peppers, coriander, and salt. All the ingredients are marinated in the lime juice. Due to the acidity of lime juice, the texture of the fish changes, as does its color – from pink to white.
The acidic marinade, also known as leche de tigre (lit. tiger's milk) "cooks" the meat without any heat involved in the process. Peruvians are used to fresh ingredients, so the fish will sometimes be prepared for ceviche less than an hour after being caught.
The flavors of ceviche are slightly acidic and spicy, with an intense aroma of the sea. Traditionally, it is served on a bed of lettuce with tiny pieces of corn, chunks of sweet potato, and boiled yuca. Cancha, a variety of popcorn made from large corn kernels roasted in salt and oil provides an ideal side dish.
The dish is traditionally served all over the year, but it is most commonly consumed during summer. It's popularity increased that it even has its day, known as National Ceviche Day.