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Shrimp ceviche cook or soak?

I notice that most but not all shrimp ceviche recipes call for poaching the shrimp. Why is that? I'm assuming there's no health problem. Is it presentation, psychology or taste?

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  1. I haven't done research on the issue but the Mexican checkout lady at the grocery store looked at the ingredients I was buying (frozen shrimp, cilantro, jalapeños, limes, tomatoes) and asked "ceviche?". I said yes. She said to steam them half way first

    I took her advice and have been doing that way for the past 4 years. It is delicious!

    1. The reason why many recipes tell you to partially cook or parboil the shrimp when making ceviche is because the time it usually takes to "cook" the shrimp with the acid -- as is traditionally done in cevice preparations -- would render the shrimp flaccid and rubbery.

      Your typical seafood ceviche recipe will call for marinading the seafood in some sort of acid for anywhere from 3 to 4 hours. You do this with fish, and you're fine. You do this with shrimp and you'll end up with ick.

      But if you only marinade the shrimp in an hour or less -- thus preserving its texture -- it'll be just a bit too raw for most palates.

      So as a compromise, people will simply poach or lightly cook the shrimp, and then soak in some sort of acid for an hour or so. It's a win-win.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        >>Your typical seafood ceviche recipe will call for marinading the seafood in some sort of acid for anywhere from 3 to 4 hours. You do this with fish, and you're fine. You do this with shrimp and you'll end up with ick.<<

        Yup - done this and I ended up with ick. And don't get fancy by mixing in pineapple or papaya. The enzymes will ick your seafood as well.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          the local mexican marisco restaurant that prepares their food in the style of nayarit and sinaloa, does NOT parboil NOR soak the fish in the acidic liquid for anything near 3 hours.. . . .

          not only am i crazy about the place, but LA Magazine has named it the best mexican restaurant in LA.

          the texture of the fish is much more like raw than like cooked.
          many gringos find the firmness of cooked fish to be more familiar. . . . .
          for cooked fish, as you describe, the dish is called a COCTEL, not ceviche.

          1. re: westsidegal

            ipse's post was specifically referring to the shrimp ceviche prep, not fish. thus the title of this thread.

            1. re: linguafood

              Yes, thank you for that clarification.

        2. I never parboil my shrimp for ceviche and it does not turn rubbery. But you have to start with very fresh shrimp - if I was using frozen shrimp I would parboil.

          1. The Ecuadorian shrimp ceviche is cooked. Same would apply to other seafood like octopus. Just the fish is 'lime' cooked.

            2 Replies
            1. re: paulj

              No - mexican shrimp ceviche is normally not cooked. But as I said you have to use fresh shrimp - as in off the boat shrimp that has been kept on ice. At least when I've had it in Mexico - many times - that is how it is prepared. And that is how I make it here because I can get fresh NC shrimp.

              1. re: Jeanne

                Note, I wrote Ecuadorian, not Mexican.

                The Ecuadorian version is closer to a Mexican campechana.

            2. There are many ways of making Shrimp Ceviche. The one made with raw shrimp is called Camarones en Aguachile (at least in Sinaloa) and the cooked Ceviche de Camaron (though some versions do start with raw shrimp as well).

              1. The opinion of a Peruvian chef (1991, Felipe Rojas-Lombardi)
                "Certain shellfish, such as shrimp and other crustaceans, in fact, are not palatalbe when "cooked" in lemon juice, for the process makes the flesh disintegrate. Shellfish must be blanched first and tossed in lemon or lime juice just long enough toe flavor them"

                He includes crab, crayfish, prawns, lobster, octopus, squid and mussels in this category.

                1. My general rule of thumb is that if you can get fresh ocean water shrimp then soak it in the lime jucie formula raw, but since most of us get farm raised shrimp so I would therefore par boil them first. Also devein and split them down the middle so they won't be as thick and the lime juice can cook them better.

                  1. While the citrus juice “cooks” the fish, it doesn’t kill the bacteria. This isn’t an issue with raw fish, but it is with shellfish like shrimp it is. If you have access to fresh shrimp off the boat, then raw shrimp would be fine.

                    1. I would normally be concerned about the bacteria but I have been making frozen shrimp in lemon juice without pre cooking and we haven't got sick . And it is never rubbery. It's a very simple recipe that we got from a friend . Cut raw shrimp and place in bowl and cover with lemon juice. Refrigerate till cooked ( I do it over night ) . Add red onion , tomatoes , cilantro and salt and pepper .
                      It's delicious . We usually eat it with chips .