Grab a bowl! This easy shrimp ceviche recipe makes a great appetizer or light meal. To enhance the flavor, succulent shrimp are poached and marinated in fresh citrus juices then combined with crunchy vegetables.
When you’re looking for a light and refreshing dish on those warm days, shrimp ceviche is the answer. The bright citrus flavors combined with tender bites of seafood and crunchy vegetables will instantly satisfy your cravings. This recipe makes for a great snack, appetizer, or even a light meal. No matter how you serve it, make sure to have some crunchy tortilla chips on hand for dipping.
Typically, ceviche uses very fresh raw seafood that’s soaked in an acidic marinade to cook the proteins. The tough muscle fibers in shrimp are very different from raw fish, which requires a bit more time. For a quicker version of the traditional recipe, I poach the shrimp for a few minutes then add it to the zesty juices. In just 30 minutes a flavorful ceviche is ready to share.
Sweet, briny shrimp is the star of this dish. However, unless you’re buddies with your local fisherman, it’s difficult to truly find fresh shrimp. In this case, the options at the store are frozen. There are many types of shrimp that you could use for ceviche, I use pink shrimp which is most commonly found at the market or white for a sweeter taste.
For a more lobster-like flavor, use Rock or Argentinian shrimp. For this recipe, I use a 16 to 20 count extra-jumbo size to give nice crustacean chunks that I chop up. Although, smaller ones, even the tiny full-sized shrimp can be used. Just make sure to keep an eye on poaching time so as to not overcook them.
Poaching delicately cooks the seafood
Using the poaching cooking method with raw shrimp ensures that we delicately preserve the texture and flavor. The last thing you want is a rubbery shrimp that then firms up when combined with the citrus juices. Cook the shrimp in the hot salted water, with the heat turned off, until it turns pink and opaque.
Once removed from the pot make sure to rinse the shrimp with cold water to stop the cooking process. Pre-cooking also ensures that any harmful organisms are destroyed, typically at an internal temperature above 140ºF (60ºC), making it safer to eat. If you are in a bind for time, you can purchase precooked shrimp and cut it up.
To complement the flavor of the soft shrimp, crisp cucumbers and tomatoes are diced into small pieces to not overpower the taste of the seafood. Red onions and spicy serrano chile peppers are finely minced to add some pungent, spicy notes. Chopped cilantro adds fresh herbaceous notes.
These ingredients marinate with the shrimp to marry the flavors together so that all of the ingredients are infused with the lime and lemon juice, not just the protein. Dice the avocado to a similar size as the shrimp so it doesn’t break down and become mushy in the acidic marinade.
I use two types of acidic fruit juices for the marinade. I add a higher amount of lime juice for its more mellow zesty taste. I use half the amount of lemon juice for punchy and tart notes. Combined they provide a strong amount of citric acid. Don’t waste the lime zest! It’s loaded with essential oils and aromas to make the marinade even more flavorful.
How to make shrimp ceviche
Chop the poached shrimp into ½-inch pieces then combine with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, and serrano peppers. Pour the lemon juice and lime juice on top, then stir to combine. Marinate the ingredients in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
I like to stir it after 15 minutes to ensure even soaking. Right before serving, stir in the diced avocado. Once cut it browns easily so it’s best to add it last to preserve the color. The acid and antioxidants in the citrus will help to prevent color change, but only for a short period of time. For the best taste, serve the ceviche within 24 hours but can be stored for up to 2 days.
Ways to serve the seafood dish
The best way to serve shrimp ceviche is to pair it with something salty and crunchy. Tortilla chips, saltine crackers, or plantain chips make for tasty smaller bite-sized appetizers to feed a crowd. For a fancier presentation or individual portions, scoop some ceviche on top of a tostada. Make sure to have a bottle of hot sauce on the side for those who like it spicier.
Citrus is a powerful marinade
Typically we shy away from adding too many acidic ingredients in a marinade, but not for ceviche. The concentrated citric acid quickly dentures the shrimp protein, similar to heat. This causes the flesh to firm up even more after poaching. However, the longer the shrimp sits, the tougher the texture will become then it eventually becomes mushy. So enjoy the dish within 2 days.
- 2 quarts (1.9 L) water
- 2 teaspoons (12 g) kosher salt, divided
- 1 pound (454 g) raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, 16 to 20 count size
- 1 cup (157 g) diced tomatoes, seeds removed, ¼-inch dice
- 1 cup (145 g) diced cucumber, ¼-inch dice
- ½ cup (70 g) minced red onion
- 2 tablespoons (6 g) chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon (10 g) minced serrano pepper, or jalapeno, seeds removed
- 1 teaspoon (1 g) lime zest
- ½ cup (120 ml) lime juice
- ¼ cup (60 ml) lemon juice
- 1 cup (145 g) diced avocado, ½-inch dice (about 1 large avocado)
- In a medium saucepan bring water and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the shrimp. Allow to cook until opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately transfer to a colander and rinse with cold water until cool, about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Chop the cooked shrimp into ½-inch pieces. Place in a large non-reactive bowl.
- To the bowl of shrimp add tomatoes, cucumber, onion, cilantro, serrano pepper, lime zest, lime juice, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
- Right before serving stir in the diced avocado. Taste and season with more salt as desired.
- Serve shrimp ceviche with chips or on tostadas.
- Recipe Yield: 5 cups
- Serving Size: 1/2 cup
- Storing: Place in an airtight container for up to 2 days before serving.