Ceviche: The Flagship Dish of Peru

Ceviche is a traditional Peruvian dish made with raw fish or seafood marinated in lime juice, onion, chili pepper, and salt. It is considered the flagship dish of Peru and one of the most popular dishes in Latin American cuisine.

What is ceviche?

Ceviche, also known as cebiche, sebiche or seviche, is a citrusy seafood dish popular throughout Latin America. It is traditionally made from raw fish and cured with lime. Though its origin is largely debated, it is broadly agreed that this meal can find its roots in Peru.

The traditional Peruvian preparation is made with a white seawater fish, like sea bass, which is then cured in freshly squeezed lime or bitter orange, and mixed with sliced onions, chili peppers and salt. Accompaniments are typically a medley of giant Peruvian corn, slices of cooked sweet potato, and some crunchy chifles (plantain chips) and cancha (corn nuts).

History of ceviche

In ancient Peru, during the Mochica culture, two thousand years ago, this dish was prepared with fresh fish that was cooked with fermented tumbo juice (Passiflora tripartita var. mollisima), a locally grown fruit. During the Inca Empire, the fish was macerated with chicha. Different chronicles report that along the Peruvian coast, fish was consumed with salt and chili pepper. Later, with the Spanish presence, two ingredients from Mediterranean cuisine were added: lemon and onion.

The development of lemon in Peruvian lands, managed to shorten the preparation time of this ancestral and pre-Inca dish.

Juan José Vega in his work indicates that the Moorish women who arrived with Francisco Pizarro gathered the juice of sour oranges, chili pepper, fish and local seaweed, resulting in a new dish called sibech, which in Arabic means “acid food”.

The researcher Jaime Ariansen indicates that this dish is mentioned in 1820 in a popular song entitled “La Chicha” where the independence soldiers sang: El sebiche, come la guatia right away, that also invites and excites to drink …. This song was written by José Bernardo Alcedo and José de la Torre Ugarte, authors of the country’s national anthem.

Summary of the history of ceviche:

  • Pre-Inca era: The earliest evidence of ceviche dates back to the Mochica culture, which flourished in the north coast of Peru from the 1st to the 7th centuries AD. The Mochicas prepared ceviche with fresh fish, tumbo juice, and chili pepper.
  • Inca era: The Incas conquered the Mochica in the 15th century and adopted their ceviche recipe. They added chicha, a fermented corn drink, to the marinade.
  • Colonial era: The Spanish arrived in Peru in the 16th century and introduced lemons and onions to the ceviche recipe. Lemons quickly became the preferred acid ingredient, as they were more acidic and had a longer shelf life than tumbo juice.
  • Modern era: Ceviche became increasingly popular in Peru in the 19th and 20th centuries. It is now considered the national dish of Peru and is enjoyed all over the world.

Classic Peruvian Ceviche Recipe

Classic Peruvian Ceviche Recipe
  • Yields: 4 servings



  • 2 medium red onions, julienned (sliced thin)
  • 1 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice (approximately 10-15 limes)
  • 1-2 aji amarillo or habanero peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 2 pounds white, raw, saltwater fish cut into cubes (corvina, sea bass, mahi mahi, halibut)
  • A sprig of cilantro
  • Salt, to taste


  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled, boiled, and sliced
  • 1 cup of Peruvian corn, boiled
  • Lettuce leaves
  • 1 cup cancha (corn nuts)
  • 1 cup chifles (plantain chips)
  • Chopped cilantro, as garnish
  • Chopped aji, to taste


  1. Soak the red onions and 1 tablespoon of salt in cold water for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. This helps cut the harsh flavor.
  2. Drain the onion and add to a glass bowl with the cubed fish, lime juice, cilantro sprig, sliced aji, and salt. Add ice cubes to help neutralize the acidity of the lime.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Once the fish is ready, remove the cilantro and chili.
  5. Add salt to taste and mix.
  6. To plate, evenly distribute the fish, onion, and juice onto 4 plates.
  7. On the side, place 2 slices of the sweet potato, ¼ cup of corn, ¼ cup of cancha, and ¼ cup of chifles.
  8. Sprinkle the ceviche with cilantro and aji, to taste. Enjoy!

Leche de Tigre

The tiger's milk

Let’s take a walk down leche de tigre lane. To put it simply, leche de tigre (tiger’s milk) is the juice of ceviche.

The tiger’s milk is the spiced juice resulting from Peruvian ceviche. This stew became the protagonist since the 90s, during this time sellers in the markets created the economical version of ceviche; They reduced the amount of fish and omitted the ceviche accompaniments, but they did so without compromising the delicious flavor of the ceviche. This change made it more accessible to the wallets of Peruvians who were going through a time of economic instability.

In RecetasGratis we teach you how to make Peruvian leche de tigre, an appetizer in the form of a whitish drink (hence its name) that demonstrates the perfect balance between the flavors, mainly of fish, lemon, onion, salt and chili peppers typical of the region.

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