Black Ceviche

Ceviche was often on the menu in restaurants during my trip to Yucatán, Mexico. Ceviche is raw seafood that is ‘cooked’ by marinating it in citrus juice. What surprised me most when I ordered it in Yucatán, was that it was black in color. The black color can be from a ‘fusion’ ingredient like soy sauce or Maggi seasoning, making it more like a Peruvian fusion dish called tiradito. But it can also be from the black seasoning used in Mayan cooking in Yucatán called recado negro, which is also used to make Relleno Negro. And of course the juice of Seville oranges should be used, the ubiquitous ingredient in Mayan cooking. Raw shrimp also seemed to be a constant factor in Yucatese ceviche. The result is a wonderful ceviche with a delicious and original flavor from the charred ingredients in the recado negro. In Mexico ceviche was served with tostados, toasted corn tortillas, on the side.

The recado negro is only mildly spicy. For extra spiciness, serve a habanero salsa on the side. A few drops mixed in (and only a few drops) will add an additional dimension.

A similar dish in Mexico is called aguachile. The difference between aguachile and ceviche is that aguachile is served straight after mixing the marinade with the seafood, rather than allowing it to ‘cook’ in the citrus juice for some time. Since that ‘cooking’ process happens rather quickly, especially with thin pieces of seafood, and for best results the marinating time of ceviche shouldn’t be so long anyway, I don’t think the difference is as profound as some make it out to be.

It is fine if the shrimps have been frozen rather than fresh. That may actually be better, because freezing kills any parasites that may be present in the shrimp. I recommend to use unpeeled and wild-caught shrimp for this. Red snapper is the most appropriate fish (as it is what is used in Mexico), but I’ve used European sea bass because that is available here. As usual, the Seville oranges can be substituted by a mixture of regular oranges and limes.


For 4 servings

  • 150 grams (5-6 oz) sashimi grade snapper or sea bass fillet
  • 150 grams (5-6 oz) peeled and deveined shrimp, 300 grams (.66 lb) with heads and shells
  • 45 grams (3 Tbsp) recado negro, from this recipe
  • 250 ml (1 cup) Seville orange juice, or a mixture of 100 ml orange and 150 ml lime juice
  • 15 grams (1/2 oz) chopped fresh cilantro (without stems)
  • 75 grams (3 oz) red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 125 grams (4-5 oz) cucumber, diced
  • 1 sliced avocado (optional)
  • salt
  • 4 toasted corn tortillas (tostados)
  • habanero salsa (optional), from this recipe


Peel the red onion, cut it in quarters, and slice thinly. Soak the sliced onion in cold water for at least half an hour to mellow its flavor.

Peel the shrimp. Cut in half lengthwise.

Remove the vein.

Rinse the shrimp with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Depending on the size of your shrimp, you may wish to chop them into smaller (bite size) pieces.

Slice the snapper or sea bass in bite size slices.

Combine the shrimp and fish in a bowl with the recado negro. Add salt if you did not put salt into your recado negro.

Mix the seafood and recado. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for an hour, covered.

Peel and dice the cucumber. Drain the onion. Add the cucumber, onion, and cilantro to the seafood, together with the orange and lime juice. The juice should barely cover the seafood.

Mix everything and allow to marinate/cook for about half an hour in the refrigerator, covered. Stir it after 15 minutes.

Toast the corn tortillas for 10 minutes at 180C/350F, fan forced, to make tostados.

Take the ceviche out of the refrigerator about 5 minutes before serving (depending on ambient temperature). The ceviche should be cool but not cold when serving.

Serve the ceviche on a plate…

…or in a cocktail glass. Garnish with cilantro and (optional) sliced avocado. Serve with tostados and habanero salsa on the side.

Wine pairing

At Yucatán-themed wine pairing dinners that I hosted for friends and family, we tried this black ceviche with the following wines:

  • Markus Molitor Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Sp?tlese 2018 (100% Riesling, Mosel, Germany)
  • Citari Vecchio Vigneto San Martino della Battaglia DOC 2019 (100% Friulano, Lombardia, Italy)
  • Ceraudo Grisara 2020 Calabria IGT (100% Pecorello, Calabria, Italy)
  • Ippolito 1845 Pecorello 2021 Calabria IGT (100% Pecorello, Calabria, Italy)
  • Dom?ne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Smaragd 2021 (100% Grüner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria)

All wines were good pairings with the ceviche, but the Grisara was the best, with the Citari a close runner-up. The Riesling and Grüner Veltliner were a bit too fresh/acidic when habanero salsa was added to the ceviche.

3 thoughts on “Black Ceviche

  1. How wonderful and tthank youv! Being born into ‘raw fish territory’ in the Baltics I learned to use a knife and fork cleaning barely spiced anchovies! Still love them and probably evert worldwide presentation beginning with my beloved gravlax ? ! This is totally new to me as all your other Mexican dishes have been – huge thanks. A few ingredients to search for but cannot wait to prepare !!! Oh, I’ll have mine served in the glass . . .

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