Shellfish prepared using the ceviche technique are appearing more and more on avant-garde menus this holiday season. Yet, despite the stunning appearance and flavor of shellfish prepared in this manner, the technique is actually a very ancient one.
Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in North America, the Moche culture of northern Peru achieved a near ceviche effect by marinating shellfish in fermented passion fruit juice.
When the Spanish finally did arrive in Peru in 1542, many Moorish women from Granada accompanied the conquistadors, bringing with them their use of oranges, lemons and limes in cooking.
Ceviche was, in essence, the result of these two culinary cultures merging. Yet over 400 years ceviche was a little known technique, enjoyed largely in South America. Today leading chefs such Chef Gastón Acurio, Christopher Carpentier and Ferran Adrià enjoy working with the technique when preparing shellfish. Why?
The “ceviche technique” is easy, required little direct prep time and yet preserves the delicate flavor and unique texture of shellfish fresh from the sea. The end result: Fantastic (and very profitable) cuisine!