If you have ever had ceviche, you know that it is a downright flavor-punch. Ceviche is one of the most versatile ways of preparing and serving seafood.
Of course, eating anything as-is can get boring after a while, so why not change it up? Ceviche can be made from such a wide variety of seafood and naturally has a wide variety of potential pairings.
So, what are the best accompaniments for ceviche? Popular garnishes on ceviche include corn nuts, cucumber ribbons, edamame beans, and some form of crispy potatoes. These ingredients can also be incorporated into some of our favorite ceviche meals and sides, like tacos or tropical salads.
In this jam-packed article, we will be looking at types of ceviche, the best way to pair other flavors with it, and some of our favorite accompaniments.
What Is Ceviche?
For those of you who are unfamiliar with ceviche, the simplest way to describe it is that it is flavored cured seafood.
Ceviche can be made from almost any type of seafood, the most popular being white fish, shrimp, octopus and lobster.
The raw seafood meat is cured in an acidic base, usually lemon juice or lime juice. The liquid is almost always flavored with other ingredients like chilis, herbs or other aromatics like garlic.
It is very easy to pair ceviche with other ingredients and dishes because, although the type of seafood changes, the acidity is what you need to balance out.
How to Pair Food With Ceviche
Ceviche is very flavorful and can be served as-is, like many people enjoy it. However, the great thing about ceviche and its simple flavor profile is that it can easily be incorporated into other dishes.
No matter what you choose to do with it, it is important to know the following information about it before trying to pair it with other flavors.
- The Type of Fish – Stay away from repeating seafood. If you have a salmon ceviche, do not serve it alongside salmon crackers. Or if you have lobster ceviche, don’t serve it with grilled lobster. This is overkill and will cause you to compare the two lobster dishes side by side and not truly appreciate the one you should be focused on.
- The Curing Agent – Do not add more acidity than the lemon or lime juice or vinegar has already added. By having additional acidic ingredients in your dish or accompaniment, you are overpowering everything with acid, You still want to taste seafood and you still want to experience the ceviche dish as a whole.
- Other Ingredients – Take a look at the other ingredients used to flavor the crevice and choose other ingredients that complement these flavors. Sweetness helps counter the acidity. Sweetness can be incorporated in many ways, but considering ceviche is most often served raw, so should its accompanying ingredients. You can add sweet fruits, vegetables and dressings to whatever dish you are serving it in or with.
- Overall Taste and Aroma – Stay away from pungent ingredients. You do not want to distract from the interesting flavors of the ceviche or add any flavors that just don’t mix. You also don’t want to add ingredients that create unappetizing scents that flash with the ceviche.
- Texture – Texture, texture, texture! For ceviche, because of its softness, you need something crunchy to go with it. Otherwise, you’ll end up having mush for dinner.
Knowing the ins and outs of your ceviche will help you determine which other flavors or dishes to serve the ceviche with.
Now, we can provide you with some guidelines for pairing ceviche with other dishes, however the best way to learn and find the ultimate pairings is by experimenting.
Pairings for Ceviche
Ceviche can be consumed as-is or worked into many different meals to add another dimension of flavor and texture.
Today we will look at garnishes, sides to serve with ceviche, and ways you can incorporate it into another dish. Because it has such a strong flavor, it will not easily disappear amongst other ingredients.
Now, as we always say, the best way to learn how to pair flavors is to experiment. This is especially important with ceviche, as it can be made from such a wide variety of seafood.
1. Corn Nuts
Corn nuts (or canchitas), are a very popular garnish amongst Peruvian locals. This provides some crunch and a very neutral flavor that breaks the strong acidic palate of the ceviche.
An alternative that is popular in Northern Peru is dried banana chips (or chifles). They function in the same way the corn nuts do, by providing crunch. The sweetness of the dried banana also cuts through the acidity.
2. Crispy Potatoes
Who doesn’t love a good crispy potato? Starch is a great and easy way to add another item to the plate without taking away from your main meal.
Potatoes especially have a very neutral flavor and can be made in thousands of ways to compliment your item exactly. That is why you so often see potato as a side dish.
Potato and fish have also always been a classic combination. So has the addition of vinegar on potato chips, only this time the acidity is in the fish itself.
Choose a crispy potato option like potato chips or crispy wedges. They provide crunch and the saltiness also beautifully elevates the raw flavors of the fish.
You can also serve a piece of ceviche on top of a large potato chip with an herb garnish and make interesting starters.
Edamame beans are a classic Asian flavor pairing with raw fish. If you are unfamiliar with edamame, it is basically a green immature soybean that almost looks like a sugar snap pea.
It has a very meaty flavor and when steamed or boiled, all that flavor will blend very well with the sour ceviche.
You can also toss a dash of soy or sesame sauce to add a little bit more of an Asian twist to the whole dish.
Believe it or not, shrimp is another classic side dish to ceviche. You might be thinking, “but that’s too much fish!” Well, the locals are never wrong!
If you aren’t making a shrimp ceviche, classic pan-fried butter garlic shrimp or shrimp with a variety of other light seasonings makes an excellent accompaniment.
Don’t use any lemon or lime juice while preparing or serving your shrimp, as the ceviche already ticks that box.
The slightly sweet meat from shrimp with the fragrant garlic butter flavors will balance out the salty acidity of the ceviche.
6. Tropical Salads
This is our first item where you can incorporate the ceviche into the dish. When we say tropical salad, we mean use sweet tropical fruits.
This can include mango, pineapple, nectarines, and much more. The sweetness of these fruits will also balance out the flavor of the ceviche and the crunchy lettuce leaves will provide that texture you need.
Here are some salad ideas:
- Mango and shrimp ceviche salad with spinach leaves and an Asian salad dressing
- Avocado, tomato, and salmon ceviche baby gem leaf salad
- Halibut ceviche with pineapple, cucumber and a creamy salad dressing
Speaking of salad, cucumber is also a great ingredient to incorporate into a meal (tacos for example) using ceviche. It naturally has a very neutral flavor with hints of sweetness, meaning it will add crunch without adding too much flavor.
Lettuce leaves are also a must-have as long as they are crunchy. They can be used as serving cups and add tons of sweet flavor and much-needed texture.
A fish taco is one of our favorite dinners to make, and we feel that the best way to make them is with ceviche.
You can use a basic ceviche salad recipe (even a tropical one) and put it inside a taco shell. The shell itself adds some saltiness and crunch that will go a long way to compliment the acidic and citrusy flavors of your ceviche.
If you want to have the ceviche flavors stand out the most, the best way to serve the taco is with tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, and the ceviche. This way nothing overpowers or distracts.
You may also want to add some avocado for some extra flavor that won’t overpower your fish.
Sticking to Mexican cuisine, you can make tortillas or quesadillas instead of tacos. Ceviche is so easy and adaptable that you can push the limits as far as you’d like.
Again, as long as you don’t make an oyster ceviche, you can serve it with some fresh oysters.
Personally, this is one of our favorite options, especially for a classier dinner. You can serve the ceviche on top of an oyster with some garnishes like a fennel leaf and even a drop of tartar sauce.
Oysters have a very unique flavor, and if you are a fan, try them with some ceviche next time.
Our last pairing of the day is fresh corn on the cob or loose, lightly salted or seasoned corn. Corn is as versatile as ceviche and you can incorporate it in many ways, including salads and tacos.
It has that crunchy element you need and also the sweetness required to break the acidity.
You can even serve the corn with some melted salted butter and chili flakes. The possibilities are endless and it will help you change the whole flavor profile.
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