Red Snapper Ceviche with Red Onion and Jalapeno, photo by Donna

I go back and forth about how much to stress ease in the kitchen.  This is so easy!  This is so fast!  You’ll never believe it! No excuse not to cook it yourself it’s so fast and easy! And the exact opposite: Forget about ease, forget about how long it takes, that shouldn’t be the point!

The point is living well, working well, supporting, encouraging and lifting up your family and friends. One of the main daily ways we fulfill all of these things is by cooking and eating well.  Why don’t more people understand this? It’s so important, we shouldn’t care how long cooking takes or how difficult or easy it is. We should make the time.  (The truth is, the longer we spend cooking, the better off we are.)

On the other hand, most of cooking really is easy and it can be as fast or as slow as you want it to be.  Ceviche is a great example of how simple “cooking” can be, and it’s also a preparation that tends to surprise people.  “I can’t believe how good this is—that’s all you do?!” is a typical response when you show people how to make ceviche.

Ceviche is simply sliced or diced fish that’s tossed with lime juice (which cures it) and aromats (which flavor it). The preparation is said to have originated in South America, but it’s likely ancient and has always been prepared, especially where limes grow. Red snapper is one of the most common types of fish to use; I also like grouper, which has a great bite. It’s very soft, so serve it with something crunchy, like fried tortillas or crispy flatbread.

One of the important points ceviche shows about fish generally is that cooking is what makes fish “fishy.” I don’t really like cooked fish, but I love raw and cured fish. High heat tends to bring out and somehow change the oils in fish that make it taste fishy. Which is why I love preparations like this. This takes about five minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to gather the rest of what every you’re serving while the flesh transforms from pale and translucent to white and opaque.  Make as much or as little as you wish.  I find that a half cup of lime juice per pound of fish is a good ratio.  Flavor it as you wish. I love how the acid transforms the onion so I always include that. If the blood line, the darker flesh running along the center of the fish, is particularly dark, you can trim that out if you wish. Ceviche needs at least 10 minutes to cure, but will be good for four to six hours after the lime juice is added.

Red Snapper Ceviche with Jalapeno and Red Onion

1 pound red snapper (ask your fish monger to bone and skin the fish if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself), cut in thin slices.

1/4 cup shaved red onion

1/2 cup lime juice

1 jalapeno, seeded, small diced or thinly sliced

2 tablespoons small diced red bell pepper or red chilli

salt to taste

cilantro to garnish

Toss the snapper, onion and lime juice together and let it sit for at least ten minutes and up to six hours.  Before serving, add the peppers, season to taste with fine sea salt, and garnish with sliced or torn cilantro leaves.

I serve this in small portions, and figure 1/4 pound per person.


74 Wonderful responses to “How To Make Ceviche:
Red Snapper Ceviche with Red Onion and Jalapeno”

  • Wilma de Soto

    So pretty, so easy and so good! I like to add chile marzano instead of bell pepper and serve ají verde sauce on the side with some good bread for dipping.

  • Jane Ridolfi

    looks great! what is that flat bread in the background – is that store bought or did you make it?

    • ruhlman

      I had some basic 5:3 dough in the fridge, rolled it through the pasta machine, oiled it and sprinkled it with salt.

      • Heather B.

        What # did you go to on the pasta roller? At what temperature did you bake and for how long? Were you pretty generous with flouring as you rolled? My crisps turned out pretty (sprinked with black lava salt), but I ended up with holes when getting the dough as thin as yours appears in the picture. The ceviche was flippin’ fantastic. THANK YOU.

  • from cook to chef blog

    Its not quite ceviche weather yet in the UK, but once it starts ti warm up and its safe to go outside in a t-shirt I will definitely give this a go. I’ve made scallop ceviche a number of times and this will be a welcome change of flavour and texture.


  • Ben

    I could care less about “easy.” As you say, most cooking is easy, provided that one has had a bit of practice and instruction. And to say that a dish is “so easy anyone can do it” implies that most other dishes out there are too difficult to attempt.

    However, “quick” meals can be very useful. Yes, we should make time to cook, but let’s be honest…that doesn’t happen 7 days a week. I think that a repertoire of quick meals, recipes and techniques is a valuable thing, and a remedy to McDonalds Thursdays, or frozen pizza Fridays.

  • chrisp

    Michael, I love ceviche as well…and yes, super easy. But, I continually have the internal battle of fish sustainability. I see here you suggested two fish that are on the avoid list of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Is this something that you consider when purchasing fish? I have some pretty good fish mongers in my town, but it is difficult to have a conversation in a crowded market as to where the fish came from and whether or not that is a sustainable source. I love fish, but battle the age old dilemma of…well, the fish is there and if I do not buy it, someone else will or it will just go to waste. Obviously, convenient argument when the red snapper looks gorgeous, but flawed nonetheless. So, my question is: what is our responsibility and what is the responsibility of the fish monger? Can we just get some clear guidelines so that I can walk in and buy some fish, make some ceviche and sleep easily?

    • Ben

      The way I see it, you have lots of ways of influencing the market. You have direct control over your own consumption. If it’s important to you, don’t buy it. Your fish monger will only purchase fish for which there is demand. “Letting it go to waste” might actually be a good thing in the long run. You can also tell the fish monger you’re willing to find another person to buy from…one who will not sell non-sustainable fish. Let him know you’re unhappy about it. Don’t be intimidated by having the conversation in a crowded market…who knows, you might just wind up educating the other shoppers.

  • Courtney

    You just call for “lime juice.” I’ve always been told that you need fresh lime juice in order for the enzymes to cure the fish. Is that true, or is bottled lime juice ok? (and thanks chrisp for the reminder about sustainability.)

    • Jeffje

      it’s not an enzyme in the lime juice that “cooks” the ceviche, but rather its acidity. bottled lime juice will work, but the results are guaranteed to be lackluster – simple preparations like this rely on quality ingredients to shine. freshly squeezed lime juice makes a world of difference from bottled and barely takes any effort to make. there’s no point in saving one minute of work if the final product tastes musty and dull.

  • Jeff

    Mahi makes a great ceviche and I agree time must be set aside for one of the most important activities in life: food. Meal times are very important in my family. I am always shocked when my kids’ friends tell us how much they enjoyed dinner with our family and that they wished their family did the same. Most families apparently don’t have dinner together on a regular basis.

  • Kirsten

    I totally agree. Good food brings us together, makes us happy and improves our quality of life. “Gut Ding will Weile haben”, this is a German phrase meaning, that “good things need time”. I believe it is true.
    I love to eat well prepared Ceviche.
    I follow my seafood selector guide to buy fish, which already isn’t so easy living in Denver. Red Snapper is listed under “worst choices”. I would never buy it. So, like “chrisp”, I am in this dilemma. I would be interested in how you feel about this? What are your answers?

  • Mark

    Nice brunoise on the onions and peppers. There is nothing worse than large chunks in a delicate dish. I sometimes add a little lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil to soften the bite if the lime is too tart. By the way, Halibut and Orange Roughy are also nice to use with ceviche.

  • allen

    Is that wild Florida snapper? I have some wild Canadian rockfish that may work well. Would a vinegar such as rice wine or sherry or a lemon do the same job? My co worker is from Peru and talks about ceviche being popular, served with a thin sliced purple potato topped with a thin slice of hard boiled egg and a thin slice of pimento stuffed olive – I have never made it but the presentaion sounded great and I’m sure Donna would make it look fantastic.

    • ruhlman

      rock fish should work great. vinegar will “work,” but you won’t get that very clean refreshing flavor that citrus gives you.

    • ruhlman

      if you’re eating it within the hour, no, if you’re making it in advance, i’d refrigerate it. not a big issue either way, more to your taste. I like it colder than room temperature.

  • Angela

    Where do you buy your fish in Cleveland? I never know where to go!

  • Lisa

    Ah, ceviche! There is *nothing* like it on a warm summer’s day…

    I lived in Peru for many years, where ceviche is a national dish. To add crunch as a contrast to the soft fish, Peruvians put the marinated ceviche on a bed of shaved red onion (rather than marinating the onion with the fish), and serve it with corn on the cob (theirs is a larger kernel variety than ours), slices of cooked purple yam, and sprinkled with salty, toasted corn nuts on top.

    I always suggest fresh lime juice, Courtney. And, Kevin, it tastes best when marinated unrefrigerated. However, if you’re making several hours before, do refrigerate for part of the time but allow it to come to room temperature before serving.

    Provecho [bon apetit], everyone!

  • Russell

    Mahi works very well too, and Rockfish is just the Northwest relative of Snapper. But the best ceviche I have ever made was with a smallish Barracuda I caught earlier in the day.

  • Blake @ salt, teak & fog

    I’m still relishing the warm fuzzy of your mom’s beautiful lunch, from the earlier post. And this ceviche is a perfect segue for me: When I would visit my late father in San Diego, he would usually have a nice plate of homemade ceviche waiting as a welcome-home. Actually, he’d usually tell me in advance that it was in the works… I’d spend the plane trip in anticipation of the good food to come, and the love he put into its preparation.

  • Tim

    Michael, great post, thank you.

    You say you can cure for as little as 10 minutes but as many as 6 hours.

    If I’m flexible and have the time, what should I aim for? What is ideal?

    I’d imagine that after 6 hours, the fish might be okay, but the onions are going to be destroyed. But 10 minutes, while sufficient to cure the fish, is too short to really impart flavor into the other ingredients. Have you found an ideal time?

  • Charles Curran

    Since you are in Palm Beach, Snapper is no longer available in Florida. Cordially Charles

  • LoveFeast Table

    I love, love ceviche!! Especially with fish caught that day, right off the boat! There is no other way to go! Just wish my life schedule afforded me time to catch fresh fish! :)This looks delish and is getting my taste buds ready for spring food!

  • Jeanne

    Oh, ceviche – YUM! I’ve made it with small scallops and snapper. Will have to try grouper as well once it warms up for sure here.

    Re: quick and easy – there are some things that just are quick and easy. Ceviche, pasta with a simple sauce of olive oil, anchovies, red pepper flakes & good parm, a really nice grilled cheese sandwich, etc. I hate it when people try to make things that aren’t quick and easy seem or appear quick and easy. They often take too many shortcuts, and the final dish is unrecognizable when compared to the original.

  • Susan

    If anyone is squeamish about raw fish, you can certainly use the same marinading technique with gently cooked fish for an outstanding meal. I’m not a huge fish lover, but will gladly eat it grilled if my husband brings it home from fishing trip, so I know how fresh it is and how it was cleaned. We’ve used albacore seasoned with garlic infused olive oil (halibut or cod would be good too) lightly grilled, then continued with this same prep. Pickling the very thinly sliced onions (or shallots, my fav) and peppers with the fish in citrus juice is just outstanding. We add some crushed red pepper flakes; they lose a good bit of their heat, but still add just a nice hint of warmth to the mix. Fresh jalapeno, minced, would probably work the same. We do add some olive oil to the serving platter. It’s perfect to serve on a hot summer day.

  • lectric lady

    I hope all of your readers know that ceviche should only be made with ocean fish. This method of “cooking” may not kill all the fish’s parasites and we humans can become infected with parasites from freshwater species. For some reason the parasites found in saltwater fish will not infect us.

    • Tags

      I seem to remember Bourdain talking about a nasty swordfish parasite in Kitchen Confidential.

      • lectric lady

        eep! eep! eep! But I would never eat swordfish anyway, cooked or raw.

        If offered Red Snapper ceviche, from really fresh fish so that bacterial contamination is very unlikely, I would dive right in.

        If offered Bluegill, or Rainbow trout ceviche, looks and smells great, um, but no thanks. Don’t really need flukes, roundworms, tapeworms!

        • lectric lady

          So true, but lots of folks would say that “raw is best”, and would forgo this step. “We got this big catch of bluegills this morning? Why not make bluegill ceviche tonight, ala Ruhlman?” Just sayin’ that isn’t too smart, and I would like to educate people.

          • Tags

            I’d like to suggest Jon Rowley’s “Why You Should Avoid Raw Salmon” on the Gourmet Magazine (RIP) website. (at least the website is alive and well)

            Also, try ‘s Bad Bug Book.

  • Heather(eatwell.eatgreen)

    The first and best ceviche I have had was made from fish we caught ourselves that day, and limes “acquired” from a neighbour’s tree. Such a clean summer taste, restaurant ceviche has never quite met the mark. But perhaps I’ll try again, I think freshness is probably the key.

  • Karen Downie Makley

    Easy…hard…shouldn’t make a difference. Just doing it from scratch is what makes life/dining so rewarding. Harder is not necessarily better. A few years ago I was trying to make the perfect cassoulet…tried every recipe I could get my hands on…created my own adaptations. The best-tasting creation also wound up being the easiest.

  • NYCook

    Ruhlman, wondering if you have read Knives at Dawn, about the Bocuse d’OR and your thoughts on the book. Also I was watching the best thing I ever ate on the FN and saw an interesting Ceviche preperation called fire and ice. The fire was the traditional garnish of Chilis, but the Ice was a pear granita they made from blending pears in the vita prep and creating a traditional granita. I believe the chef was Dave Rodriguez. Wondering if you have ever heard of something like this. Is it common. Your boy Michael Symon is on that show alot repping alot of Cleveland spots.

  • Carri

    this is one of our favorite quick dishes for entertaining, we make it mostly with rockfish, but halibut and cod are great, too. sliced very thin and dressed with lime juice, laid out on a plate like a carpaccio with cilantro, red onion and pickled ginger, it’s very pretty. Fresh corn cut from the cob is also a great addition to a ceviche dip…adds sweetness and crunch!

  • allen

    As an appetizer, maybe a sake vodka martini with a cucumber slice would make a nice pairing?

  • allen

    I made this with shichimi togarishi instead of jalepeno, and scallion instead of cilantro -needed the cilantro, wrapped it up in a green leaf of lettuce. First bite I knew it needed olive oil – which I too forgot – damm geezerhood. Paired nicely with beer, wine was too much acid, sake tini is great with ahi poke but not good with this dish. I think a sweet wine might be interesting but I’m done pairing today. Nice dish, rockfish was great.


  • bobdelgrosso

    “This takes about five minutes to prepare and 10 minutes to gather the rest”

    Sure it takes 15 minutes. But if the doer does not have your knife and compositional skills, it’s sure as hell not going to look as good as your model. And if it doesn’t look great, it won’t eat great.

    • ted samsel

      Oh piffle, an aesthete.. I’ve made ceviche while camping on the beach in Yucatan from our daily catch back in the 70s. Even if it ain’t as cute as the photo, it still eats great.

  • Bunnee

    I love cooked fish – have some beautiful Alaskan king salmon in the refrigerator right now to poach (using the Ruhlman rules) tomorrow. I really have a hard time with the notion of fish which is not cooked. Maybe it is a texture thing or maybe fear of getting some weird disease which I wouldn’t get if the fish were cooked. Cooked fish takes no longer than your ceviche and could be done with all the same flavors. Guess I’ll have to make a special effort to try this and try to feel the love.

    • Mantonat

      If you are worried about getting sick from eating ceviche, think about all the people in the world eating ceviche right now, and how few of them are getting sick from it. If it was really a concern, people wouldn’t eat it.

      Fresh fish, acidity from the lime juice, and proper handling add up to being minimally dangerous. A salad made from grocery-store produce has more of a chance of making you sick. So many people get sick every year from eating contaminated produce but nobody ever talks about avoiding raw vegetables.

  • Abigail Blake @ Sugar Apple

    I’ve been looking for ideas to use up all the key limes on our tree; thanks for reminding me about ceviche. Try it with some fresh pineapple, papaya or mango and a little scotch bonnet pepper.

  • John Kelly

    While lime juice is the standard I have often used a mix of juices including lemon, orange. blood orange (lovely color), etc. Changing the marinating component can take the dish in a number of different directions.

    I also like adding small cubes of Jicama for the crunch. I would imagine that fresh water chestnuts with their apple like flavor would also be delightful.

  • Cleveland Joe

    This sounds like a GREAT recipe! We had ceviche for the first time at a restaurant (called Seviche) in Pittsburgh a few weekends ago and it was fantastic…probably some of the freshest and most delicious fish I’ve ever had. Looking forward to trying this recipe out…jalapeno and red onion sounds is a great combination!

  • Mark Herman

    I grew up in FL eating fresh fish and never really was able to truly enjoy it until I tasted it in it’s raw form. I often do a Ceviche with shaved fennel and onion, rock shrimp, using 2:1 lime juice to orange juice. I live in DC and have been unable to find any quality sashimi grade fish. Does anyone have and recommendations for online suppliers?

  • Eric the Read

    Honestly, I’ve never even contemplated making ceviche before this… but darn if this doesn’t look extra-tasty. Might have to check the provenance of the fish in my grocer’s case now. 🙂

  • The FoodNinja

    Man, I love ceviche. Nothing like it when the weather gets warm.

    My favorite way to serve it: rolled up in a rice-paper round, a la those Vietnamese spring (fresh) rolls. Soften the round in warm water, lay out a green lettuce leaf, add a dollop of ceviche, and roll up nice and tight. Final step — cut them in half on the bias. All that’s visible through the translucent wrapper is the green of the lettuce, while the cut cross section, if you’ve balanced the additional ingredients correctly (pepper, red onion, cilantro, tomato, plus carrot maybe) is a brilliant riot of color. It’s a nice surprise for the diner, because they see the roll and they expect Asian flavors (ginger, soy, sprouts), but instead they get bright citrus and a vegetal crunch along with the fish. It also turns a potentially messy, drippy dish into a neat and tidy side-table finger-food canape type item. Nifty little combination of techniques.

    You could probably do the same sort of thing with a sushi-rolling kit, but for me, the addition of starchy rice would detract from the sharp freshness of the ceviche, so I haven’t tried it.

  • Stuart Reb Donald

    You would think living on the Gulf Coast that I would make ceviche more than I do. We do have a very unique and delicious variation here in Alabama called West Indies Salad that is made with just lump white crab meat, onion, salt, pepper, ice water and cider vinegar. It’s eaten as an appetizer with saltines, on a garden salad or as the ultimate Oscar topping.

  • Laura [What I Like]

    Oddly I’ve never made this before although I love to cook (and couldn’t agree more about us being better off the more time we spend cooking…I always wonder what other great and important things people are doing with themselves when they say they don’t have time?). Given the gorgeous weather we’re supposed to have here in New York this weekend this ceviche might just have to accompany a few cocktails on my roof.

  • Natalie Sztern

    Hope someone can answer what might be a silly question: like Lectric Lady my biggest fear is a parasitic tapeworm…i fear that more than anything when eating even fresh fish that my monger has promised just came in….’. For that reason I always freeze my fish if I am going to do a ceviche or a tartare or even sushi, then defrost and continue…

    However, my question for ceviche is ‘the longer you leave the fish in the marinade the more it cooks’ apply?

    • Snow

      Much of the supermarket fish that has been shipped long distances has been flash frozen, which will kill parasites. Your home freezer doesn’t reach temperatures that does this.
      As for fresh fish, there simply aren’t any guarantees regarding food safety unless you cook it to an internal temp that will kill bacteria, viruses and parasites. That’s why Japan has the highest incidence of Anasakis parasite infection in the world. Purchasing flash frozen fish for raw eating is the only sure fire way to ensure food safety, although texture and quality may suffer.

  • luis

    Thank you very much Michael for the ratio and the recipe. In the past my ceviche has tasted a bit too lemony. Honestly I don’t know how great/or lemony ceviche is supposed to taste like.

    Perhaps it has something to do with the duration of the cure?. I did leave it to cure longer than six hrs. So that’s probably were I am wrong.

    You figure a couple of hrs and then life gets in the way… Believe me persian limes and this is one simple dish I could make correctly. Even screwed up it tastes allright. So healthy. I like mine with a little Sambal and sweet bell peppers rather than jalopenos.

  • Jackie

    Would this work with striped bass? I catch a lot of those during the summer.

  • Michelle

    “… the longer we spend cooking, the better off we are.” A great expression to ponder. Cooking should be zenful and simple, just like this recipe. And this makes me feel better about the alternative lifestyle I’ve chosen. The point is to live well, work well, support and encourage and lift up your family and friends. But I gotta tell ya, it is deeply disturbing to see some of these suburban families caught up in a superficial “keep your house perfect, don’t mess up the kitchen” attitude. There are lots of high dollar, gourmet kitchens out there with nothing but processed frozen fish sticks going in the ovens on cookie sheets. It’s appalling.
    Never knew that cooking made fish “fishy” … good to know. Just want to ask one question though: can fish flown into Oklahoma really be considered fresh? Would you eat it? My family loves and craves fresh fish, so would like to serve more of it, but can never seem to find the quality of fish found on the coasts. Not sure what to do.

  • Jan

    Coconut milk is a lovely addition in the French Polynesian version of ceviche, called “poisson cru” (“raw fish”). I recall eating heaping platefuls of large chunks; no brunoise there. Yum.
    A bit off topic, I want to say “Thanks Ruhlman!” for your post about that tall, voluptuous quiche a while back. It has been in the back of my mind ever since! I finally made the time to make one as a lunch special at work this week. The height makes all the difference in the world! The ultimate compliment came from my boss, Cordon Bleu trained and 20 year chef and restaurant owner: “That is the most beautiful quiche I have ever had. Everything about it is perfect.” Thanks Ruhlman!!!

  • Nancy B

    Off the subject but have always meant to tell you this blog format is so much better than when you first started out changing things. Much easier to read & ads don’t overshadow Donna’s photos!

    Nancy B

  • Merridith

    In the South Pacific islands, they make ceviche with a combination (half and half) of coconut and lime juice. Typical fish used are ono, yellow fin or other dense white fish but sometimes they do it with albacore or even regular tuna. That flat bread looks fabulous – I would like to know how you make that, too!

  • Jim

    Here in Kissimmee, FL we have an abundance of Latino grocery stores that serve cafeteria style food. One in particular makes ceviche in two styles: chunks of small octopus, and peeled shrimp. Both are delicious !
    The mixture varies, but usually includes diced red and green pepper, cilantro, and onion.

  • luis

    The more I thunk about it.. Once you start thinking that cooking a fish creates a “fishy smell” on the fishh I think you have crossed the line.
    Taste is an acquired or developed sense.

    A ten minute ceviche is/seems like a waste of lime juices.

    Crudo, tartar, sachimied..are all strong tastes in their own right and yes if you bother to cook the proteins you will have a diffrerent tasting protein.

    Not fishier/or less bloodier tasting but cooked which leads me to wonder if you/us have some sort of primal supressed predilection for blood going all theway back to our humblle beginnings. You gradually cook the proteins less and less and it all sort of draws you in like a bad habit… One day you wake up and bang…you are a cannibal.
    Maybe not, I don’t understand the movement towards undercooking everything??? The taste of blood… that’s all it is I think….What else would drive anyone to eat a bloody piece of meat’??

  • Elaine from Cookware Help

    Ceviche is one of my absolute favorite dishes! Growing up we usually had this using shrimp, scallops, and various kinds of fishes. My favorite cerviche is with spanish mackerel (some call it king fish or wahoo) or that of with shrimp. And yes, grouper is good with it too. The recipe we use is almost the same as this but without the jalapeno which I got to try. For me, I don’t add the onion during the start of the “cooking” time for at least 10 minutes. I believe the onion slows down the “cooking” time considerably.

    I love your presentation of your dishes. Been lurking here but this is my first time to comment. This blog is just… great!

  • Matt Rissling

    We had a lovely halibut ceviche on the menu last summer. Now that halibut’s back in season, maybe it will make a return when the peppers and cucumbers do in a few months. Our local spot prawns work great in this application, too.

    I would suggest a Hendrick’s gin and tonic would be great with this. The cucumber and rose in the gin would marry well.

    Take a look for a good marinade. You can make extra and keep it in the fridge for a few days.


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