Normally I can't stand any of the numerous discussions on the authenticity of a particular dish. However I now have an "authenticity" question of my own. Yesterday my Mexican neighbor offered me some ceviche which she had just made. I diplomatically rejected her offer not being a fan of uncooked fish. But she said that wasn't a problem because in her ceviche the fish is first cooked in water then ground and finished like a normal ceviche.
So was it ceviche or something else? All my recipe references say ceviche is fish "cooked" in lime juice. Have you seen recipes for a cooked fish ceviche?
Yeah, in Panama.
The corvina ceviche there was served with the fish ground or chopped very fine. Women I knew would prepare the fish ahead and wait until shortly before serving to toss it with the lime and oil "dressing," much like a salad dressing.
As finely as the fish was chopped, if it had sat in the dressing for more than a few minutes, it would have tasted dreadful.
In Ecuador, shrimp ceviche is very popular and the shrimp are always cooked before adding them to the dressing.
They also steamed conchas, the clams that they used for ceviche, before using them.
re: Sam Fujisaka
Same here, and although in some regions the fish is "ground" , the norm is more often small discrete raw pieces. Your neighbor's version may have tasted fine, just not authentic. It's surprising how quickly lime juice can "cook" fish. For tuna, an hour is too long. Most ceviche is not just fish - most has some combination of shrimp, octopus, and conch as well.
The only "cooked" ceviches I've ever encountered were mixed shellfish or shrimp only and were ever so lightly steamed or poached first. The kitchen's explanation was that it wasn't necessarily getting all the seafood within moments of it being pulled from the sea, so it was just safer to cook just until the point at which it is no longer raw, then prepare the ceviche. As you might imagine, this results in some tougher bites of seafood, once the ceviche has marinated for an hour or more in the acids. It is not my preference, which is why I now shy away from mixed seafood ceviches and stick to freshly prepared fish versions. In my opnion, they are far superior.
I suspect your neighbor's logic is the same. Who can trust the freshness and safety of a lot of the raw fish out there these days? Unless you're catching it yourself or are buying it off the pier as its being pulled in, the concept of freshness is a dicey one. Perhaps this cooking of the fish is an adaptation designed to guarantee that nobody gets sick. I can't imagine that it doesn't detract from the texture of the finished dish, though.