I can’t believe I haven’t been making this for years. It’s so simple, so delicious, so refreshing on a hot day in the Garden, simply outstanding as a light lunch or appetizer.

Ceviche, in case you’re unfamiliar with it, is a Central/South American innovation, seafood that has been cooked chemically, instead of with heat. Specifically, you soak it in an acid – lemon or lime juice – and in a few hours it’s been cooked, preserving the more delicate qualities of the seafood. It’s ready to go in a few hours, but will keep overnight in the refrigerator.

The recipe below uses a firm whitefish. I recommend red snapper; flounder, halibut, or tilapia would work fine. Another time we might explore a shellfish version, such as scallops. One of these days I’ll make this with swordfish. You’ll have to drop by for that bite of chilled heaven.

A friend of mine, a butcher who is also an excellent cook, gave me the biggest time-saver of the entire recipe: store-bought pico de gallo. Well, it’s a time-saver if you can find the stuff, and if you live any farther from its native lands than Southern California or perhaps Nevada, that could be a challenge. In that case, make small dice of 2 tomatoes and half a red onion, and toss them with chopped cilantro, a sliced green onion, and a good squeeze of lime. Come to think of it, doing it from scratch wouldn’t take much extra time at all.


The yield is a little over 1 pound, but how many servings that works out to depends too much on the audience to reliably guess. Figure 4 luncheon servings or 7-10 appetizer servings. If you’re clever, you can use them for a couple dozen canapes. Better still, try it out and see how far it goes with your crowd.

Prep time: 7 min
Wait time: 4-6 hours


1# firm whitefish (such as red snapper), ¾” cubes
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 T. serrano, finely chopped
1 t. sea salt
½ t. pepper (to just cover the fish)
½ c. lemon juice
½ c. pico de gallo
Optional, to garnish: lime wedges, chopped cilantro, diced avocado


Combine all ingredients except pico de gallo. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours (or overnight).

Gently mix in chilled pico de gallo and chill additional 1-2 hours.

Garnish just before serving.

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Stranger, here you will do well to tarry; here our highest good is pleasure.