Grab a bowl! This easy shrimp ceviche recipe makes a great appetizer or light meal. For the best flavor, succulent shrimp are poached and marinated in fresh citrus juices and then combined with crunchy vegetables.
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Shrimp ceviche is the answer when you’re looking for a light and refreshing dish on those warm days. 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 light meal. No matter how you serve it, make sure to have crunchy tortilla chips for dipping.
Typically, ceviche uses fresh raw seafood 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, salty shrimp is the star of this dish. However, it isn’t easy to find fresh shrimp unless you’re buddies with your local fisherman. 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, 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 that is peeled and deveined to give nice crustacean chunks that I chop up. Although smaller ones, even tiny full-sized shrimp can be used. Just make sure to keep an eye on poaching time so you don’t 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 firms up when combined with 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, 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 not to overpower the taste of the seafood. Red onions and spicy serrano chile peppers are finely minced to add some intense, pungent notes. Chopped cilantro adds fresh herbaceous notes.
These ingredients marinate with the shrimp to marry the flavors together so that all components infuse 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 an intense 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.
I like to stir it after 15 minutes to ensure even soaking. Right before serving, stir in the diced avocado. Once cut, it browns quickly, so it’s best to add it last to preserve the color. The acid and antioxidants in the citrus will help prevent color change, but only for a short time.
Ways to serve the seafood dish
The best way to serve shrimp ceviche is in a large bowl paired it with something salty and crunchy. Tortilla chips, saltine crackers, or plantain chips make for tasty, 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 potent marinade
We avoid 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.
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- 2 quarts water
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, 16 to 20 count size
- 1 cup diced tomatoes, seeds removed, ¼" dice
- 1 cup diced cucumber, ¼" dice
- ½ cup minced red onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon minced serrano pepper, or jalapeno, seeds removed
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- ½ cup lime juice
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 cup diced avocado, ½" dice (about 1 large avocado)
- Cook the Shrimp – In a medium saucepan bring water and 1 ½ teaspoon of salt to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the shrimp. Allow it 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 Into Pieces – Chop the cooked shrimp into ½-inch pieces—place in a large non-reactive bowl.
- Prepare Mix-ins – To the bowl of shrimp, add tomatoes, cucumber, onion, cilantro, serrano pepper, lime zest, lime juice, lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
- Add Avocado – Right before serving stir in the diced avocado. Taste and season with more salt as desired.
- To Serve – Pair shrimp ceviche with chips or on tostadas.
- Recipe Yield: 5 cups
- Serving Size: ½ cup
- Storing: Place in an airtight container for up to 2 days before serving.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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