This week’s meal recipe is my husband’s all-time favorite food. I’m fairly certain he would eat it three meals a day every day and not get tired of it. It is a fresh, healthy meal too, so I don’t even mind. This week on the menu: Mexican Ceviche with Tilapia.
I learned this ceviche recipe from my in-laws. You can substitute shrimp for the tilapia if you like, but we rarely do that due to allergies to shellfish in the family. Tilapia works great, and tastes great too! This recipe is super easy to prepare! The only downside is the prep time. It goes much faster if you have someone to chat with while you chop! I also love this one because it can be done in advance. I will make a huge batch on Sunday and we eat it all week long (assuming it doesn’t run out). Since it is eaten cold, it is the perfect make-in-advance dish and needs basically nothing to be done right before serving.
- 4-6 tilapia fillets – thawed and diced into small pieces
- 1 Onion
- Several tomatoes
- Celery Stalks
- Whole carrots
- Fresh Cilantro
- Pink Himalayan salt
- Whole bag of limes (8-14 depending on size)
- Hot Sauce (optional)
Prep. Time: About an hour
Cook Time: (No oven cooking, but tilapia “cooks” in lime juice for a minimum of three hours.)
Make sure you thaw your tilapia fillets in advance. I usually use between 4-6 fillets per batch just for the 2 of us at home, and it lasts for a few days before we run out. I have never had a batch go bad, we eat it too fast! For a party, I would err on the higher side for tilapia count, as it will disappear pretty quickly!
Cut your fillets into small cubes. The size of the cube is important, as it affects cooking time, as well as the overall taste of your ceviche. I like a well-mixed bite over a fishy-bite-then-veggie-bite experience, so I cube as small as I can without shredding it. Somewhere around a centimeter square or smaller is about right. (Note: Do NOT use a meat processor or grinder. This severely affects the end product taste and texture. It’s gross, trust me. Take the time to cube by hand.)
“Cooking” the Fish:
Once you have all fillets cubed, put in a metal or glass bowl (I never recommend plastic, especially if you are going to let it soak). Cover with freshly squeezed lime juice. (Yes, freshly squeezed, don’t get the bottle from the store. The acidic content of the bottled juice is different than fresh-squeezed.) The number of limes you will need to juice varies depending on size and ripeness of the lime, but keep adding until the juice-line covers all the cubes of tilapia. The tilapia will “cook” in the lime juice for several hours, so you want to make sure all the fish is covered. Any little cube that pokes above the waterline will be left uncooked. Add salt to taste. Pink Himalayan salt makes a big difference in taste as well, but regular salt will do in a pinch. (Get it? Pinch. Of salt.) Using the pink salt, I grind quite a bit into the bowl but adjust to your taste preference. Mix into the tilapia/lime, cover bowl with plastic, and set aside.
Dice equal parts onion, carrot, celery, tomato, and cilantro into a separate, large bowl. The amounts can vary depending on how many tilapia fillets you used, so eyeball it. I usually use one whole (small to middling sized) onion, a couple tomatoes (depending on size and type), 5 carrots, 5 celery stalks, and most of the bundle of cilantro. Again, adjust your ceviche to taste, judging amounts by the bowl of tilapia. The tilapia should be more than a third of the sum total of everything together. Dice the veggies into similar sized pieces as you did the tilapia. Cover in plastic and set aside.
Put both bowls in the fridge. The tilapia must sit for a MINIMUM of 3 hours, however, I strongly recommend letting it sit overnight. Sitting overnight increases lime flavor, and ensures the tilapia is completely cooked through (the color should change to a more opaque white when fully cooked.) This makes preparing for guests easy as well, as all the time-consuming part is done in advance. The next morning, combine tilapia bowl contents, juice and all, into the veggie bowl. Mix well.
Serve as a main meal over tostadas with fresh avocado slices and hot sauce (optional) on top, or as a side dipping dish with tortilla chips. When serving as a side, dice the avocado and mix in right before serving to prevent the avocado from browning.
And there you have it. An authentic Mexican dish that is SUPER easy to make, and will wow any party guest. It works great for a family dinner as well, my 11-year-old niece can’t get enough! Also, given that Ceviche is comprised of virtually all veggies and fresh foods, nothing canned or dried, it is a great healthy alternative meal. All around perfect, inexpensive, family-friendly meal. And if you like this, you’ll also love our zucchini chicken skillet recipe! Try that here.
Try it and drop us a line in the comments to let us know how you liked it!