Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: Chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill discuss the building blocks of ceviche.

Ceviche from Food52

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When you think of summer food, you think of raw, crunchy salads, of chilled soups, of popsicles, of ice cubes.

It's time to add ceviche to that list.

Ceviche is the name for the marinated fish salads of Mexico, which are perfect for this season -- instead of turning on the stove, you let acid do the cooking for you.

For a great ceviche, the fish must be of the highest quality and as fresh as possible. (In Mexico, the best fish is found close to the waters’ edge, either at little beach shacks or literally on fishing boats.) When shopping for fresh fish fillets, look for glistening, translucent flesh that smells clean, not fishy. Shop the same day for fish for ceviche and store it in the refrigerator, in its wrapping. At Border Grill, we are 100% committed to serving fish that is sustainably caught and farmed; we make sure to always buy the fish that is in season and recommended by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program (download the app -- it’s terrific!).

Marinating fish from Food52

How It Works

In many ceviche recipes, the fish is not completely raw -- a lime juice bath at the beginning technically cooks the outside of the fish (turning it opaque), while the inside remains raw. However, there are different lengths of time that you keep the fish in the lime juice; for example, our local albacore is so fresh, pure and delicious tasting that we just squeeze lime juice on it for a minute or two, before adding dressing and garnishes. On the other hand, when using richer fish like mahi mahi, we like to marinate in the lime juice for an hour or so.  We have broadened our view of ceviche to include lightly poached fish or shellfish, too.  We love a smoked mussel ceviche with lots of roasted beets or a slightly poached California squid ceviche with chopped mint, cilantro and crunchy jicama. For our Baja ceviche, we sometimes poach the U.S. wild caught shrimp before tossing it with the fish “cooked” in lime juice, jalapenos, tomato, red onion and lots of cilantro.  

Making ceviche from Food52

The Formula

The great thing about ceviche is you can play around with so many different ingredients. Besides the freshest ingredients available, a great ceviche, for us, has at least 50% vegetables and is accompanied by a crunchy chip of some sort. Chop up peaches or mangoes as contrasts to your lime juice. Add cucumber or jicama for crunch and texture. Play around with the different levels of heat from jalapeno to chipotle to habanero. You also don’t need to use just lime juice; try grapefruit, lemon, orange, or tomato juice. Once you get comfortable with the basic formula, you can start exploring and creating. 

While there are no rules in ceviche making, we encourage you to use impeccably-fresh ingredients, lots of interesting vegetables, and a crunchy chip for texture -- and to serve your creations with a spoon for all those delicious juices.  

Peruvian Ceviche from Food52 

Peruvian Ceviche by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger

Serves 4


1 pound skinless, boneless sustainable fish, cut into a 1/4-inch dice
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 jalapeño chile, stem and seeds removed, diced
1 aji amarillo chile (jarred), stem and seeds removed, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon aji amarillo paste
1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced or grated
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pickled red onions (recipe below)
Sliced avocado, for serving

Pickled red onions

1 pound red onions, thinly sliced
1 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon roughly chopped cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 beet, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 8 wedges

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • fsamis
  • Merrill Stubbs
    Merrill Stubbs
  • laurenlocally
  • Emma Wartzman
    Emma Wartzman
Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger are co-chef/owners of the popular, critically acclaimed Border Grill restaurants, serving modern Mexican food in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, as well as in Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California. They are preeminent ambassadors of authentic Mexican cuisine, setting the standard for gourmet Mexican fare for over two decades and authoring five cookbooks, including Cooking with Too Hot Tamales, Mesa Mexicana, and City Cuisine.


fsamis August 1, 2013
Ceviche isn't just a mexican dish it's prepared and eaten all over central america. My boyfriend is from Panama and we make ceviche often following his father's very simple recipe.
CARLOS S. July 31, 2013
I am Peruvian and the base of our Ceviche has 5 main ingredients: Fish, Lime, Red Onion, Chili and Salt (Which is technically the one that turns the fish opaque). And traditionally it is served with sweet potatoes and corn. Normally eaten very fresh and no longer than 5 minutes after prepared to maintain its freshness.
With the Japanese influence in our cuisine this dish has evolved through time.
AniQuadros July 31, 2013
I totally agree with you Carlos. Ceviche is exactly how you described nothing more, nothing less. I have Ceviche every week which I myself prepare and it is just like you said but at the end I sprinkle some cilantro. The simple, the better.
Merrill S. July 31, 2013
This looks amazing!
laurenlocally July 31, 2013
Love this post. I have silly reservations about making ceviche, and I need to just go for it! Can't wait.
Emma W. July 31, 2013
The best ceviche.
Renee F. July 31, 2013
The peruvian ceviche I know, always has Rocoto and Garlic in it. Peruvians don't eat ceviche with chips, but get the crunchiness from Canchita, which is a crunchy salted, corn kernel that has "popped". Also,with camote and choclo on the side, all available in the US.