Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Shrimp ceviche a la chalaca

How many times does it take doing something before you can call it a tradition? In the case of my mother's shrimp ceviche: two.

Last Memorial Day, the husband and I trekked down to her house for a BBQ, with a soggy rhubarb crisp in hand. I still wince at the thought of that terrible dessert, which slowly imploded on the drive and was not much more than a fruit sauce by the time we arrived. Luckily, over the course of the year, this memory was counter-balanced by the fabulous ceviche my mother made. And this year, she made it again.

I think the recipe began as something she found in Food and Wine, but from the get-go she added her own touches. Unlike me, my mother is very good about annotating recipes with her additions and changes. So this year when Memorial Day rolled around and we began talking about the menu, she was ready to go with the ceviche.

She's named this "Shrimp ceviche a la chalaca," for two reasons. One, chalaca refers to someone who was born in Callao, Peru, which my mother happened to be. Yes, she is of Scandinavian descent. But she was born in Callao and lived in Lima until she was about 12. This is an interesting story for another day. Today's story is about ceviche.

Two, this ceviche reminded us both of some of the Peruvian ceviches we've eaten, often served with a delightful array of condiments, including toasted pumpkin seeds, crispy corn or hominy kernels, and boiled sweet potato, among others. Ultimately, this is my mother's take on Peruvian ceviche. Seeing as two years in a row, it's stolen the spotlight from all other sweet and savory dishes laid out on Memorial Day, I'd say she's done a pretty good job. And lucky you, here's the recipe.

Shrimp Ceviche a la Chalaca
Serves 4-6, depending

1 lb. medium shrimp
3/4 c. fresh lime juice
3 thinly sliced scallions
2/3 c. finely chopped red onion
1 large rib celery, chopped fine
1/2 c. minced cilantro  
12 small pear tomatoes, sliced or 1 medium seeded tomato, chopped
1 1/2 T. tarragon vinegar
1 1/2 T. olive oil
1 t. dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Optional garnishes: sliced avocado, toasted pumpkin seeds, slices of boiled sweet potato, olives, finely minced and seeded habanero pepper, crispy corn kernels, papaya slices, tortilla chips.

Clean and peel shrimp, removing the thin vein that runs along the top of the shrimp, and cook in boiling water just long enough to turn pink (1-2 minutes depending on size). Drain immediately and rinse with cold water to stop any residual cooking.

Marinate the shrimp in the lime juice at room temperature for about 1 hour.  Strain and discard juice.

Mix marinated shrimp with the rest of the ingredients and chill for 2-3 hours.
Serve on a bed of dressed (oil and vinegar) salad greens of your choice. Garnish ceviche as you prefer.

Cook's notes:  Diced green or sweet red pepper can be added to the shrimp mixture. Orange and lemon juice can be added to the marinade, too.

Please forgive the photo quality...blame the iPhone.


  1. This looks like a really perfect potluck/summer party dish! I hope it'll transport me to Peru as I have yet to visit! I've never heard of tarragon vinegar before, but sounds interesting. Will have to look for it.

  2. This is perfect for me. I simply love shrimps, especially when grilled or in salads like this one. It looks and taste refreshing for me. Oh, and I love avocado, so that one will not be optional for me, lol, it just got to be there!
    Thanks for sharing this one!

  3. 'tis jam-packed with color and flavor! would it be overkill to add each and every one of the optional garnishes? :)

  4. That is so gorgeous and colourful. I've never made ceviche before but the idea of par-cooking the shrimp first really appeals. I'll definitely try this when summer rolls around.

  5. HD/AN, this looks wonderful! I have never made ceviche but this is the one I'll be making this summer. Thx for sharing the recipe, definitely one for our next book. p.s. great to have seen you both! -cwt

  6. Jessica: yes, this would be perfect for a potluck--you can make it ahead and it looks pretty on a buffet!

    shrimp recipe: I'm pretty sure this is an ideal recipe for you.

    grace: Not at all. You're talking my language!

    shaz: I hope you try it--I have to try it too! I mean, I've eaten it but never made it myself...

    Carole: This one might need to go in the next family cookbook. Until then, enjoy!

  7. There are a lot of bad fish salads out there, but this ceviche looks GREAT. And since I am going to a potluck on Saturday: Hello, Lucky Neighbors! Maybe Chalaca Finn will make it for me herself when she comes to Pton over Labor Day.

  8. Hungry!!! I love device and recently was introduced to Peruvian cuisine at la mar, which I'm still dreaming about... I haven't ever tried shrimp, it looks so beautiful

  9. P.s. cevich somehow became device... oops

  10. love, love, love the look of this. I'm book marking it for the weekend. Yum.

  11. I love any kind of ceviche. And if it has shrimp in it, even better! ;)

  12. Jary: Those neighbors are indeed lucky! ANd I bet Mom will make this for you in September (or possibly in July in Wisconsin?)

    foodhoe: Give this one a try, it's a winner. I really enjoyed La Mar...must get back there soon.

    agrigirl: Let me know how it works out!

    CJ: I'm a huge ceviche fan too, it's always so refreshing.

  13. Can you believe I've never had ceviche? I must say, it does look fantastic though!
    Have a wonderful weekend ahead.
    *kisses* HH

  14. HH: You must remedy that situation immediately! Happy weekend to you too. :)

  15. Thanks for featuring one of my blended recipes! Now I need to try my hand at "arroz con pato" Peruvian style! (Duck with rice, translated). Time for a Peruvian outing, again!
    And maybe I'll make ceviche while traveling this summer. MOM

  16. Mom: Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, I think a lot of people will be trying it out! :)