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Ceviche "Cooking" Times

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2012

How long until ceviche is "cooked" through?

In the popular South American dish known as ceviche, small pieces of raw seafood are marinated in lemon or lime juice and seasonings. The acidic citrus causes the proteins in the flesh to denature and coagulate, eventually taking on the firm, opaque appearance and flaky texture of cooked seafood—even though it’s never heated.

In many traditional recipes, ceviche is soaked for several hours to “cook” the seafood through. These days, however, many people prefer just the barest cooked outer layer and a raw interior. To determine some general doneness guidelines, we marinated batches of diced fluke in lime juice, minced shallot and jalapeño, and salt for different time intervals. Note: Ceviche should always be prepared with the absolute freshest fish. Unlike cooking, a longer marinating time will not kill any potential parasites in the fish.

30 MINUTES = RARE

2 HOURS = MEDIUM-RARE

4 HOURS = WELL DONE