The Secret Ingredient (Key Lime): Key Lime Scallop Ceviche Recipe

The Secret Ingredient

Every month we highlight a different ingredient and share weekly recipes that showcase its uses.

The Secret Ingredient (Key Lime): Key Lime Scallop Ceviche Recipe

[Photographs: Kerry Saretsky]

Key limes occupy a treasured corner of my heart. In fact, when I return to Florida, where I spent seven years of my life with a key lime tree out in my citrus-stocked yard, I can feel my pulse quicken just at the thought of key lime—my heart turns into a little round yellow lime, pumping that pucker-tart milky-jade juice through my veins.

Key limes are around all the time in South Florida; but up North, I find that sacks of these baby round limes show up in gourmet stores, and sit there, and eventually someone disposes of them. I don't know if the general population understands how special the key lime is—how different it is from our standard limes. They're rounder, and smaller, and paler than the limes we are used to. More chartreuse than emerald. But for their diminutive size, they pack a punch. They are tarter, more acidic, and altogether more flavorful and vital than regular limes.

So for those times when you see those sacks lying around, I offer you three reasons to start squeezing the little gems—or buy a bottle of key lime juice, if you must. (I won't tell; it tastes good!).

For this ceviche, I start with mild, sweet sea scallops cut into a fine dice, and toss them with simple spikes of flavor from garlic, scallion, chili, and cilantro. The marinade gets its punch from freshly squeezed key lime juice, which mostly cooks the scallops and imparts a heady citrus scent, and pungent lime flavor. I serve it with freshly fried plantain chips. The perfect summer starter.


Key Lime Scallop Ceviche


  • 2 tablespoons key lime juice (from 6 key limes)
  • 1/2 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1/8 jalapeño, finely sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 clove garlic, grated
  • 2 sea scallops (about 1/4 pound), diced into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 plantain, sliced lengthwise 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick
  • vegetable oil for frying


  1. 1.

    In a bowl, mix together the key lime juice, scallion, jalapeno, sugar, salt, cilantro, and garlic.

  2. 2.

    Add the diced scallops, and toss. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

  3. 3.

    Take the ceviche out of the fridge to take the chill off.

  4. 4.

    Meanwhile, fill a cast iron skillet halfway with vegetable oil, and heat to 350 degrees F.

  5. 5.

    Fry the plantains 3 to 4 minutes, until golden and crisp. Drain on a paper towel, and season with salt while still hot.

  6. 6.

    Serve the scallop ceviche with the hot, fresh plantain chips.