The origin of this wonderful coastal dish is credited to Peru, and possibly to Peru via the Spanish, via the moors, who “cooked” foods in escabeche, a vinegar marinade.
And although, the origins of foods are usually never known with 100% certainty; for me, the origin of my first ceviche is 100% clear.
As a young girl, our family of 6, including my abuelos, would jump into our huge Cadillac and drive from Los Angeles to south of the border to Tijuana, Baja California.
The seemingly endless coastline was lined with culinary specialties from one town to the next–– fish tacos, lobster Puerto Nuevo, shrimp Costa Azul, ceviche cocktails and shrimp ceviche tostadas.
These Pacific Coast delights were just starters for the inland adventures we would have later in the day and late into the night.
After some shopping on the main street, we would do some light betting at the Jaialai games, then head to one of our favorite carnitas, or barbacoa hangouts where we re-fueled before one final stop for pan dulce.
After an action packed day and gastronomic frenzy, we would head back to the border for the drive to Los Angeles, full of great food and enough excitement to last us until our next visit to the lively border town.
It’s hard to pick a favorite food from all of our border adventures, but the ceviche tostadas seem to epitomize our Pacific Coast adventures.
They were light, fresh, spicy, regional, so inexpensive and amazingly satisfying.
In Mexico, ceviche is usually an appetizer or first course, but these days I make a tostada and call it a light dinner.
Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas
½ lb large shrimp, cleaned and deveined
*Note: I use extra large shrimp, as I find them easier to use.
1 medium tomato, chopped into ½ inch cubes
½ of an English cucumber (or Persian cucumber), cut into ½ inch cubes. No need to peel.
¼ red onion, finely chopped
½ jalapeño, sliced into very thin rounds
½ cup cilantro, finely chopped
3 limes (3 for marinade, 1 for garnish)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ avocado, cut into cubes (optional)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
Prepared chile sauce like Cholula or Tapatio (optional)
Ingredients for Mayonnaise Spread
½ cup good quality Mayonnaise
1 chipotle chile in adobo or ¼ teaspoon chipotle powder
4 tostada shells - Guerrero is a very common brand and easy to find in most states.
*Note: The Mayonnaise spread is completely optional.
Notes on cleaning the shrimp
In a traditional ceviche recipe, the shrimp is “cooked” in the citrus marinade.
In this recipe, I poach the shrimp quickly before marinating.
This assures any bacteria is killed and the result is a plump juicy shrimp. If you want to try the recipe in the traditional way, simply marinate the shrimp without first poaching it in the citrus marinade for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the shrimp turns pink.
I buy shrimp which are frozen as soon as they are caught.
Freezing the shrimp kills any parasites which may have been present.
Preparing the Shrimp Ceviche
1. Poach cleaned and deveined shelled shrimp in simmering water for 1 minute, no longer, or they will become rubbery. *Note: If you use smaller shrimp, adjust the time so that you remove them as soon as they are a light pink.
2. Remove and plunge the shrimp into ice water to cool. Let them cool while you prepare the other ingredients.
3. Chop all the veggies and place in a bowl large enough for the shrimp to be added.
4. Drain the shrimp and chop each one into about 4 pieces, the same size as the veggies. *Note: I have tried many ways of cutting the shrimp, but I find this simple cut to be the most satisfying in the finished dish, mostly because everything is cut to the same size and you always get a good bite.
5. Squeeze the limes into the shrimp, add the oil, which gives the ceviche a smoother, less acidic finish. Add ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and a pinch of garlic powder. *Note: if you prefer more acidity, add more lime. The olive oil gives the dish a smooth finish, but if you prefer you can eliminate it.
6. Let the shrimp sit for 20 to 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
7. Add the shrimp to the veggies, cilantro and jalapeño and spices.
8. Taste and adjust seasoning.
9. Prepare the Mayonnaise; finely mince 1 chipotle pepper, add to ½ cup mayo and combine.
10. Spread the mayo evenly on each of the tostada shells. *Note: The mayo is a great base for the ceviche, but you can always omit it if you don’t like mayo.
11. With a slotted spoon, divide the ceviche evenly on the four shells.
12. Top with some cilantro, a slice of lime and avocado, if using. If you want it spicier, add a few drops of Cholula or Tapatio.
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