No matter if you could eat it for days on end or would rather go hungry, there can be few arguments against the fact that “ceviche” is synonymous with “Peruvian food” and is the dish to enjoy this season.
The summer sun is the spotlight for Peru’s unofficial national dish, and the beach is its stage. Ask any Limeño and they’ll likely tell you nothing completes a hot afternoon like a fresh ceviche accompanied by a sweaty, cold beer.
(If you love seafood, this is the dish for you. If you don’t, well, there are many other Peruvian foods to try!)
A fresh ceviche from a seafood shack at Playa Arica beach in Lurin, just 20 kilometers south of Lima (Photo: Connie Lee/Lima te Llena)
What is it about some diced pieces of fish and mixed seafood (such as squid, mussels, and black clams) prepared mostly raw but slightly cooked in a marinade of lime juice and spices that makes mouths water during the Peruvian summer months?
Ceviche ingredients beautifully making mouths water at a street stand in the historic downtown of Lima (Photo: Connie Lee/Lima te Llena)
Some say it’s the tanginess of the Peruvian lime, which is incomparable to any other lime or lemon in the world. Others say it’s the perfect punch delivered by the spice of aji limo or aji amarillo, locally grown peppers that add as much color as flavor. And you can’t forget the giant white choclo corn kernels that cleanse the palate while you enjoy your salty ceviche.
White choclo corn is a perfect companion to ceviche, helping to clear your palate with its more neutral taste (Photo: Connie Lee/Lima te Llena)
Another reason for ceviche’s incredible popularity, aside from its simple tastiness, is because it is a light dish. In a land where meat, rice, beans, and potatoes dominate the menu, most other Peruvian dishes are comparably heavier and a bit stodgy. Even after polishing off a big ceviche you can still feel comfortable in your swimsuit as you lay by the waves!
A woman getting ready to make a ceviche on the boardwalk of Pucusana beach, 50 kilometers south of Lima (Photo: Connie Lee/Lima te Llena)
Finally, ceviche is the perfect Peruvian meal because it is the everyman dish. You can find it dressed up in a trendy restaurant, offered home-style on the streets and in neighborhood huariques (or hole-in-the-walls), or as a walk-by snack on the streets at a fraction of restaurant prices.
And you can share a plate with your best friends and family between a beer (or dozen), or indulge in one all by yourself!
Here are our top 5 alternative and very authentic places to get your ceviche fix in and around Lima this summer:
• Street Style: Ceviche Papa’s on the corner of Calle Santa Rosa and Calle Domingo Elias 1 block from the Via Expresa and Avenida Angamos, Surquillo
• Market Style: Cevicheria Andrea’s inside Mercado Jesus Maria on Calle Dominica Republicana in the Jesus Maria district
• Beach Style: The seafood stands on the malecon promenade of Pucusana Bay at Kilometer 57 of the Pan Americana Highway south of Lima
• Beach Style: The seafood stands in the sand at Playa Arica beach, Lurin, at Kilometer 35 of the Pan Americana Highway south of Lima
• In the City: Punto Azul restaurant at 595 Calle San Martin in the Miraflores district
This article was written by Connie Lee, owner and operator of Lima te Llena. Lima te Llena offers expertly led food and chicha art tours and workshops that let you see and experience Lima, Peru in authentic and alternative ways. To book your Lima food or art tour, visit the Lima te Llena website or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.