Fresh, homemade ceviche. [Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

I've had a passion for Peruvian food for years. In my restaurant days, I used to work with a great cook named Felipe who was from Peru, and the staff meals he cooked of his home cuisine served as my education in many of the country's most classic dishes: jalea (fried seafood with fresh onion-and-tomato topping), causa, parihuela (seafood soup). And, of course, ceviche. Felipe's ceviche was phenomenal, and he taught me how to make it.

As an aside, I used to badger Felipe for New York City Peruvian restaurant recommendations, and he'd inevitably lament that there wasn't much good to be found. Eventually he caved and told me about an illegal restaurant in Jackson Heights that a family ran out of their home. I found my way there, and eventually took Jamie Oliver along for one of his TV series, being very careful to get permission from the family first and set ground rules that protected their identity. That restaurant is gone now, the family moved away (which I learned the hard way by trying to enter the back door of what was now someone else's home...good thing I didn't get shot). Jackson Heights does have some good Peruvian restaurant options now, but Passaic, NJ and its robust Peruvian community and restaurant scene is worth the trip for anyone around these parts who wants to dig a little deeper.

Now, I could tell you everything Felipe taught me about making great ceviche, but the truth is I don't really need to. When Kenji tackled the topic in the Food Lab, he managed to test his way to the same conclusions, including the ideal marinating time being about 15-30 minutes. So, if you want to make some great ceviche—and I have absolutely no idea why you wouldn't—just check out our recipe here. You never know, maybe you'll become so expert at it that you'll start running a clandestine restaurant out of your place. Just let me know if you do, because I really miss my old secret spot.


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