How can a fish be not raw, but not cooked? No, this isn't a riddle with a funny punchline, it's the secret behind what makes ceviche so delicious but also safe to eat. You may have had ceviche before or this may be the first time you're seeing the word and you're wondering how exactly to pronounce it (sah-veech-ay). Either way, you may be wondering, "what is ceviche?" Don't worry, I'll fill you in. 

WTF am I eating? 

tomato, vegetable, lettuce, fish, cheese, bread, meat, ceviche
Jocelyn Hsu

The most important ingredient in ceviche is the fish that's marinated in citrus juice (usually lime or lemon). The acidity in the citrus juice breaks down the protein in the fish and replicates the process of heat being applied to the meat. This means this meat is 'cooked', even though there is no heat involved (aka all the harmful bacteria is killed). Ceviche is typically mixed with other ingredients, such as cilantro, onions, and avocados. 

Variations of Ceviche

salad, ceviche, shrimp, pineapple, salmon
Hana Brannigan

Ceviche is typically made sea bass or flounder, but almost any fish will work. Ecuadorian ceviche is typically made with shrimp in addition to the fish; it is also typically served with corn nuts. Chilean ceviche is made with sea bass, grapefruit juice, and cilantro. In Peru, ceviche is made with sliced onions and peppers. 

However you decide to make ceviche and whoever you decide to eat it with, it's a simple, delicious dish. Next time someone asks you, "what is ceviche?", you'll be adequately prepared to tell them.