Guatemalan-Style Ceviche

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  10 servings
Prep Time:  20 minutes Marinating Time:  4 hours Cook Time:  0 minutes

Guatemalan-Style Ceviche

Tart and refreshing, ceviche is as much a technique as it is a recipe. The acids (citrus juice and/or vinegar) break down and denature the protein of the fish, and, in essence, cook it. As the cell walls are broken down, the flavor and acidity of the marinade gradually permeate the fish. Allow at least 4 hours for marinating; to achieve a more thoroughly “cooked” result, simply allow the fish to marinate longer. The key is to get the best-quality, freshest fish you can find. A bracing ceviche is best served as an appetizer or a brunch entree. If you want, you can drink the leftover marinade at the bottom of the serving dish. It’s called leche de tigre or tiger’s milk. One sip and you’ll know why!


1 pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

¼ small (about ⅓ cup) red onion, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated

Juice of 3 lemons

Juice of 3 limes

⅓ cup ketchup, preferably Heinz

½ pound halibut fillet, cut in ½- to 1-inch dice

1 pound red snapper, cod, sole, or tilapia, cut in ½-inch dice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground fresh white pepper

Fresh parsley, for garnish, optional


  1. Combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, lemon juice, lime juice, and ketchup in a large bowl and mix well. 
Add the halibut and snapper and mix gently, making sure that the juices and ketchup coat the fish. Season with the salt and pepper and mix just to incorporate.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 8 hours. Serve chilled, garnished with fresh parsley.

Kitchen Tips

  1. You can kick up the heat on this recipe easily by adding some very finely minced jalapeno peppers, all seeds and ribs removed, or even a small habanero. Make sure to use gloves and don’t touch your eyes or nose with peppery fingers.
  2. For plenty of good advice and the food science behind ceviche, check out these links: The Food Lab: Ceviche and the Science of Marinades and Science and Food: Ceviche
  3. When buying fish that will not be cooked through, it’s vital to understand the importance of safe temperatures and proper handling. Always ask the fishmonger if the fish has been properly frozen for eating raw. There is no “sushi-grade” fish, at least as noted by the Food and Drug Administration or the  US Department of Agriculture—or any organization at all. It’s a self-serving marketing term. It may, however, be an indication that the fish is properly prepared and ready to be eaten raw, and that is very important to know. Crucial, in fact. No matter how the fish is labelled, you must ask the fishmonger or manager—not the counter person—if it has been frozen and defrosted at the prescribed temperatures and is safe and ready to eat raw, sushi style. Any good, trustworthy fishmonger will know and will tell you the truth. If they don’t (and you may well get sick) don’t ever go back.
         Note that fish that’s eaten raw is generally safe for most people, but if someone at your table has a weakened immune system, even if it has been frozen properly, it might be best to avoid it. Uncooked fish can harbor bacteria and/or parasites that can cause illness. To learn more, read my post on the subject: Fish, Raw and Ready?
    Or check out these articles:
    For safety, the rules regarding fish are :
    • Cooking
      • Cook to an internal temperature of at least 145° F  or about 63° C.
    • Freezing
      • At -4°F (-20°C) or below for 7 days (total time), or
      • At -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid, and storing at -31°F (-35°C) or below for 15 hours, or
      • At -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid and storing at -4°F (-20°C) or below for 24 hours.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.