I recently tasted a ceviche with Asian pear and grapefruit, sweet shrimp, orange clams, and scallops. It’s hard not to be amazed how far ceviche has come from the coast of South America, where there are literally hundreds of versions. In order to taste an authentic Ecuadorean version of this popular dish, I visited Josephina and Alfredo Vizueta of Passaic, New Jersey. Rather than using the blender and the food processor her daughters gave her, Josephine cuts everything by hand with a knife and grinds spices with a stone mortar and pestle. Although she always loved cooking, Josephine, born in a small Andean village and married at thirteen, never wanted to work as a cook. “Cooking is what I do for the family,” she says. “The tradition of ceviche depends on your parents,” she continued. “The shrimp holds its color better when it is cooked in its shell.” Red coloring is important in Ecuadorean ceviche, I learned, and thus the ketchup. I have added some avocado, which keeps its nice green color with so much lime added.
- 2 pounds unpeeled medium shrimp, washed
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 orange, peeled and cut in half
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon roughly chopped parsley
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon roughly chopped cilantro
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 red onion, cut into small dice
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 3 limes
- 2 heaping tablespoons ketchup (approximately)
- 1 avocado
- Hot sauce for garnish
- Plantain chips
1. Rub the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Then squeeze the orange halves over the shrimp and simmer in a large frying pan, covered, for 5 minutes.
2. Remove the shrimp to a bowl and add a few ice cubes to prevent the shrimp from discoloring or shrinking. Strain the juice from the frying pan and pour into the bowl of a blender or food processor. Add 1 cup each of the parsley and cilantro as well as the tomato to the juice, then pulverize.
3. Peel the shrimp, cut in half lengthwise, and return to the bowl.
4. Stir the diced onion, sugar, and salt in a bowl with the herb mixture.
5. Cut the limes in half. Stick the tines of the fork in the center of a lime and rotate it as you squeeze it over the shrimp and onions, discarding any seeds. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the ketchup and mix with a spoon then toss with the shrimp.
6. Refrigerate for a couple of hours, until cold. Just before serving, dice and add the avocado. Serve the ceviche in individual bowls, topped with dabs of ketchup or hot sauce and sprinkled with the remaining parsley and cilantro. Pass the plantain chips.