This Colima style fish ceviche is so fresh and perfect for friends who may be squeamish about eating raw fish.
Mexico is one of the most diverse countries for food, and yet most of us only know a few dishes that are authentically Mexican.
The others are often Tex-Mex or American versions of Mexican food – think Chimichanga or the Taco Bell Quesarito – blend of a quesadilla and a burrito.
This is why I’m always looking to visit new regions in Mexico, because each one does it differently. Colima is a very small state in Western Mexico neighbouring delicious food heavyweights like the Jalisco and Michoacan. It’s a tropical area with lots of fantastic fruit, but it’s also on the Pacific coast of Mexico and known for its seafood.
There are a lot of regional recipe here that don’t exist elsewhere, like a dry pozole that comes without any broth. I had also heard that the Colima style fish ceviche was unique, but I wasn’t sure why.
The first time I ordered it in Manzanillo I thought the funky modern restaurant (complete with gigantic shrimp cocktail) I was eating in was trying to do some kind of weird fusion with Mexican ceviche.
But then a few days later in the small beach town of El Paraiso, we were served the very same ceviche and I learned Colima style fish ceviche doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever seen before.
What is Ceviche?
Ceviche is a method of cooking fish or seafood in acid – in this case fresh lime juice. The lime juice marinade safely transforms the proteins making it cooked without any heat.
That said, while most ceviches do not require heat, some ceviche recipes, like ones in Ecuador will briefly poach the seafood. However, this is not necessary to safely eat ceviche.
In Mexico, ceviche is eaten with fried tortillas, known as tostadas or totopos, saltine crackers or tortillas chips. Often when you order ceviche your server will bring you a basket of several of these items, various hot sauce, salt and lime – so that you can adjust the ceviche seasoning to your taste.
Ceviche is something you eat when you are near the beach, do not eat it in a city not close to water. It is often served on the street during the day so do not order it for dinner unless you are in a restaurant as it may have been sitting around all day in the heat.
Is it Ceviche or Cebiche?
Well it’s actually both. In Spanish the V and B sound is often interchangeable so it depends on where you go. For example, in Cuba we call the capital city HaVana, but in Cuba it’s La HaBana. But if you use the V instead of a B everyone will still know what you are saying.
But to make things even more confusing, some places may also use sebiche or seviche in South America!
How is Colima Style Fish Ceviche Different?
Although I’ve eaten ceviche is many countries and also in other cities in Mexico, I had never had Colima style fish ceviche. Two things about this fish ceviche are very different from other ceviche recipes:
1) It uses minced fish.
The fish is finely chopped until it almost has the consistency of ground meat. In the seaside town of Manzanillo you can buy the fish already minced in the fish markets.
2) It’s a dry style ceviche.
So the fish is marinated in lime juice for an hour or so and then all the juice is drained. Removing the juice stops the curing process giving the cook more control over how “cooked” the fish is.
With the difference in fish cuts and the lack of liquid the texture is very different from a traditional fish ceviche. In some ways I think they should rename it so that people have different expectations and don’t unfairly compare it to others.
And while I still think Peruvian ceviche recipe is the best. I do think this dry style of fish ceviche is perfect with a cold beer on the beach. It would also be great for people who are afraid to try raw fish dishes for texture issues as this almost has the texture of a quinoa salad.
Another unique aspect is the addition of shredded carrot, which gives the ceviche a bit of sweetness – almost similar to the sweet potatoes in Peruvian ceviche.
Colima Style Fish Ceviche Recipe
This fish ceviche calls for dorado, which is local mahi mahi in Colima. However, it is also commonly made with red snapper or tilapia and any mild-flavoured white fleshed fish would work here.
The State of Colima is known for its amazing sea salt, especially its flor de sal. Using high quality salt is just as important as choosing fresh fish for this simple recipe.
Food Safety Eating Fish Ceviche
Although we often say that lime juice is cooking the ceviche, what it is actually doing is curing it. The lime juice is acidic and changes its proteins, making it safe to eat for longer periods of time.
Buy fish somewhere you can talk to a fishmonger. Instead of just asking what is fresh, let them know that you are making ceviche so that they recommend the freshest fish possible.
How Long Does Ceviche Last?
Refrigerated fresh fish lasts up to three days. While most people say you can eat ceviche for up to 48 hours if it’s covered. I think the quality really starts to go down after 24 hours as the fish continues to cure. I personally might eat ceviche the next day, but then I toss it. When in doubt, throw it out.
Note: Ceviche cannot be frozen.
If you’re unsure if you’ll like this fish ceviche recipe just try cutting it in half to sample it. If you love it you can easily make a double batch.