This is my version of a delicious ceviche I tasted in Jipijapa, an old colonial town in the province of Manabí. The fresh tomato sauce seasoned with lime and orange juice is soupy and delicious. What makes it different from other tomato-enriched ceviches from coastal Ecuador is the addition of a dollop of peanut butter right before serving. Ecuadorian ceviches are not overly spicy, as people prefer to add the hot pepper to their food at the table. I sometimes use red serranos or jalapeños, but I also love the stronger heat and aroma imparted by peppers of the habanero or Scotch bonnet type.–Maricel E. Presilla
LC Uh, Waiter, There’s Peanut Butter In My Ceviche Note
Yup. Nutty, nubbly, natural peanut butter. In ceviche. You could omit it, and your friends and family may spoof it and tease you, saying, “Waiter, there’s peanut butter in my ceviche,” but why knock it before you try it?
For the shrimp ceviche
- 1 pound medium shrimp with shells and heads intact
- 1/2 large red onion peeled
- A few sprigs cilantro
- 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 6 cups cold water
For the onion relish
- 1 large red onion peeled and thinly slivered lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 to 2 red serrano peppers, jalapeños, or Scotch bonnet peppers stemmed and thinly sliced crosswise and, if desired, seeded
- Juice of 4 large limes about 1/2 cup
- 1 garlic clove mashed to a paste
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves or more to taste
For the tomato sauce
- 2 pounds very red vine-ripened medium tomatoes cored and coarsely chopped
- Juice of 4 large oranges about 1 1/4 cups
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
For the peanut butter
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup) lightly roasted, unsalted, shelled peanuts
For the final assembly
- Dijon or yellow mustard (optional)
- Chopped cilantro leaves
- Coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
Make the shrimp
- Rinse the shrimp, then peel and devein them, reserving the shells and heads. Set aside.
- Place the shrimp shells and heads in a medium pot with the onion, cilantro, salt, and peppercorns. Cover with the water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the shells and solids with a slotted spoon and discard. Add the shrimp to the pot. Cook until pink and cooked through, barely 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a bowl, and let cool. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid.
Make the onion relish
- Place the onion and the salt in a medium bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with your hands.
- Drain the onion in a colander and rinse well under cold running water. Transfer the onion to a medium bowl and add the hot pepper, lime juice, garlic, and cilantro and toss to combine. Add the shrimp and mix well. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
Make the tomato sauce
- Place the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and process into a smooth purée (you should have about 3 cups). Strain the purée through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl, pushing down on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Add the orange juice, ketchup, and reserved shrimp broth to the tomato liquid and season with salt to taste. Pour this liquid over the shrimp and onion mixture and stir to combine. Refrigerate until lightly chilled.
Make the peanut butter
- While the ceviche chills, prepare the fresh peanut butter. Place the peanuts in a small food processor or a nut butter attachment for a blender and process at high speed until chunky and sorta pastelike. Scoop the peanut butter into a small bowl. (Alternatively, you can just use a large scoop coarsely ground natural peanut butter, preferably with a small handful chopped peanuts stirred into it.)
Assemble the ceviche
- Divide the shrimp and a generous amount of sauce among 6 wide bowls or soup plates. Place a dollop of peanut butter and a bit of mustard, if desired, over the shrimp. Garnish with the cilantro and some chopped peanuts and bring to the table. Pass around spoons, as the sauce is very soupy.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This recipe takes a little effort but boy is it interesting and yummy. The ground peanuts are so unexpected, as is the yellow mustard. I could see myself in a seaside Ecuadorian town enjoying this delightful ceviche in the warm breeze.
There’s a lot of acid here, so if you’re sensitive to it,make the ceviche a day ahead sans shrimp. The acid died down the next day and there seemed to be a bit more balance. The peanuts were super chunky and only kind of cohesive. Substitute peanut butter with tons of chopped peanuts mixed in.
I have to admit, I was a bit timid when making this, as I’ve never made ceviche before. This recipe took all of my qualms away. This ceviche is the perfect balance of tang, heat, flavor, spice, and texture. The tang from the lime and orange juices offsets the bite of the red onion. The jalapeno and the cilantro add another depth of flavor. This recipe does require several steps and is somewhat time-consuming, but it’s worth every bit. I used a jalapeno and this worked well. I used the freshest shrimp I could find at my local seafood counter. The soaking of the onion does take the edge off. I didn’t make the peanut butter as I thought this dish didn’t need it. It tasted best the following day, after it had time to meld. This is really a fancy little dish and would be incredible to serve at a dinner party. I think I’ll have a dinner party soon just so I can make this for it!
I love ceviche, and this was an interesting variation that was different than any I’d had due to the unusual addition of peanuts and peanut butter. I made the peanut butter in a mini food processor (actually an attachment for a blender), and although it took a while, it did eventually form a thick paste. I absolutely loved the soupy tomato and citrus broth. Good thing, as there was a lot of it. The peanut butter didn’t dissolve into the broth, but sat there more as a garnish, which I took small bites of now and then.
One thing I’d change in this recipe is the proportions of onions and shrimp. It’s a LOT of onion. (I weighed mine to make sure it was the amount called for). Also, it’s pretty light on shrimp. One pound heads-on is going to give you about 10 ounces peeled shrimp for 6 people. In the future, I’d double the amount of shrimp and halve the amount of onion.
Originally published April 12, 2013