Salmon Ceviche is one of the most delicious ways to start eating healthier and lighter during the spring and summer months. Jumpstart your summer party menu with some bright new flavors! I learned this recipe in Mexico.
One of the secrets of throwing a great party is keeping the food simple so you can actually have fun with your guests. That doesn’t mean that you have to order a pizza, though. In fact, it’s probably why you’re here. So how about something colorful, spicy, and can’t stop, won’t stop addictive?
This recipe for Salmon Ceviche, based on the Mexican fish dish served all along the Pacific Coast, is all that and more. It’s a bold, beautiful blend of fresh salmon, chilies, tomato, and lime juice. And as if that’s not enough, it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, and compliments many of today’s healthy diets.
Plus, it comes together in minutes and is ready to eat by the time the first song in your playlist is over.
To serve, put out some corn chips, crunchy corn tostadas, avocado slices, and lime wedges and let guests scoop it up themselves. Or get fancy and serve a little spoonful of ceviche on a slice of cucumber for the most elegant passed appetizer you’ve ever seen.
Making Salmon Ceviche for two or 12? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
Ceviche—what is it?
Seafood ceviche, also known as cebiche, seviche, or sebiche– is a recipe made of raw fish that is marinated in citrus juices, which “cook” the fish. Ceviche (pronounced “seh-VEE-chay”) is also made with chilies, avocados, mangoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, or finely diced onion.
Ceviche can be eaten on its own as a wonderful snack, but it’s just as delicious when served in tacos, or with something crispy like plantain chips or tostadas.
Peru claims ceviche as its national dish, but the origin is debated and isn’t very cut and dry. Peruvians dress their ceviche in a sauce called leche del tigre, (tiger’s milk), which they drink up as an aphrodisiac. Rightfully so, because a shot of lime juice with chilies and fish just might make anyone get frisky!
But in reality, ceviche is so popular that every city, town, village, and family throughout Central and South America and Mexico makes their own unique ceviche recipe using local fish and their favorite ingredients. One bite and it’s not difficult to see why.
How to cut ceviche:
To get tender forkfuls every time, you have to cut the fish fillets a certain way. Here’s some great tips.
- Once you’ve got your fresh seafood back home, ice it down. Place it in the freezer or on ice for just a bit (enough to firm, but not freeze). This will make it easier to work with later.
- Make sure to remove the salmon’s skin beforehand and that you have a sharp, long chef’s knife for slicing.
- Cut each fillet into long, narrow pieces that ate about 2” wide. Rinse your knife under cold water between each slice; this keeps the delicate fish flesh in tact.
- Now you can make the chunks. Rather than chopping straight down with the knife, hold the blade at a 45 degree angle to make the slices. Be sure to follow the muscle fiber of the fish.
- Keep the slices about 1/4” thick. Rinse or wipe the blade between cuts.
How to Make Salmon Ceviche:
- First, prep your veggies: diced onion, chopped carrot, diced tomato, chopped cilantro, and finely chopped jalapeño peppers.
- Next, place prepared salmon chunks into a glass or stainless steel bowl.
- Then add freshly squeezed lime juice, and toss the fish until everything is evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate until the fish is opaque and “cooked” through. This usually takes about 4 hours.
- When ready to serve, drain off the excess lime juice, and gently mix in the remaining ingredients. At this point, you will want to season to taste with salt. Then serve and enjoy!
Is ceviche raw?
Ceviche certainly looks cooked…and a lot of people think it is.
SO… what is it?
Technically, ceviche is still raw. But as the raw fish marinates, the acid from the citrus juice breaks down the proteins in the fish’s muscle fibers.
The acid changes the structure of the flesh gives it a texture that is similar to traditionally cooked, opaque fish. This chemical process is called denaturation.
Even though the citrus juice changes the texture of the fish, much like gravlax, poke, or smoked salmon, you’d still be eating raw fish. That means you should make every effort to find the best quality fish you can find. Which brings us to…..
What type of salmon should you buy for ceviche?
When shopping for fresh salmon or any other fish, it’s important to have a reputable fish market you trust that can recommend the best cuts for your ceviche. And it’s very, very important when you’re planning on consuming raw fish.
Always look for sushi grade fish, which has been gutted and cleaned on the boat, and ask the market for salmon which can be eaten raw.
Farmed salmon has a lower occurrence of parasites, while many prefer the lean flavor of wild salmon… but that’s entirely up to you. It doesn’t matter what kind of salmon you buy— wild or farmed—as long as the fish has been frozen according to the FDA’s freezing guidelines.
The guidelines require fish to be frozen at -4 degrees or below for at least 7 days. Commercial deep freezing at low temperatures kills off any potential parasites in the flesh that would otherwise be killed with traditional heat cooking. Better safe than sick.
Can ceviche make you sick?
Unlike traditional high heat cooking, the citrus juice is not affecting potential bacteria or parasites in the fish. This is why you should make ceviche with only the best, freshest fish to be as safe as possible.
Actual illness from parasites in fish is not very common. However, to be on the safe side, make your ceviche from commercially pre-frozen fish. Try to avoid freezing the fish yourself; home freezers are usually between 0 degrees and 10 degrees, and may not be cold enough to kill any parasites.
As with any raw fish such as sushi or sashimi, use caution. Anyone who is pregnant, nursing, or has a compromised immune system should check with their doctor first before enjoying ceviche.
If any of your guests can’t eat raw fish, here’s what you can do!
Make them a safe to eat ceviche version using chunks of ripe mango in place of the fish. It’s just as good, and they’ll love the extra thought you put into making something just for them.
Or make them a mock version of Ceviche de Camaron, a delicious shrimp ceviche recipe. There’s a cooked version included in the recipe!
How to serve Salmon Ceviche:
Salmon ceviche tastes fabulous with avocado; it has so much going on, you don’t have to get complicated. Keep it simple with crispy plantains, corn tortillas, or lettuce wraps.
Just make sure there’s plenty of hot sauce (in Mexico they always have Valentina on hand!) and mayonnaise (I swear that’s how they do it) and a pitcher of ice-cold Paloma Cocktails or Watermelon Agua Fresca to sip while you’re eating!
Salmon Ceviche Recipe
For the ceviche:
- 1 pound salmon filet
- 1 cup fresh lime juice from 6 to 8 limes, plus more for serving
- 1 medium onion finely diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 large carrot peeled and finely chopped (about ½ cup)
- 1-2 roma tomatoes seeded and chopped (about ½ cup)
- 1-2 jalapeño peppers minced, seeded if desired (see notes)
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro stems removed and minced
- Tortilla chips tostadas, or saltine crackers
- Valentina hot sauce
- Sliced avocado
To make the ceviche:
- Remove if the skin from the salmon filet if it is still intact and run your fingers over the filet to check for and remove any embedded bones. Use tweezers if necessary.
- Chop salmon into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a glass or stainless-steel bowl. Add lime juice and toss until evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate until the fish is opaque and "cooked" through, about 4 hours.
- Drain off and discard excess lime juice. Add onion, carrots, tomatoes, jalapeños, and cilantro and toss until evenly coated. Season to taste with salt and more fresh lime juice if desired.
- Serve on tostadas or with tortilla chips or saltine crackers, passing mayonnaise, hot sauce, and sliced avocado separately. Or, divide ceviche among small clear-glass bowls, wineglasses, or martini glasses.