Spotlight on Ceviche

When our abuelita came to visit for the first time from Callo, Peru, one of the first things she did was teach our mother how to make ceviche. Ceviche is the quintessential Peruvian food, reportedly invented by the fishermen of Callo or Lima on long fishing trips. Abuelita's recipe was her mother's mother's, and it is stellar. Needless to say, this is one of those foods that we're a bit of a purist about.

The first time we had ceviche at a restaurant was at a Tex-Mex place whose name escapes us. What arrived was tomato sauce, sweetness and, in our case, horror. After a dining companion explained that it wasn't an unusual version, we gladly passed it off to him and became wary of restaurant ceviche from then on.

But recently we had another craving - for rotisserie chicken from El Rey Taqueria - and there on the menu was a ceviche option for $7.99. We went for it, in addition to our normal half chicken special with a side of plantains (#38 - $7.99). When we got home, we cracked open the container and found whitefish, mango and avocado laid atop a bed of greens and pico de gallo. The promised toasted chips were absent, but no matter; we had a fork.

First bite was just how it should be, all tender fish cooked in lime juice. The ceviche was cold and firm; that it was in no way mealy or rubbery was surprising for this dish at the end of the day. The pico was an excellent companion and added the perfect amount of bite, and the avocado and mango were nice complements that didn't overwhelm the delicate fish.

Recommended? Absolutely. It's not the world's most adventurous version, and we can't vouch for consistency, but this was a nice surprise and will bring us back for a second round soon.

For El Rey locations, click here.

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Becky Means