Ponce Family Cookbook: Ceviche de Fuego

Our family loves ceviche. We like it prepared all kinds of ways with all kinds of fish, crab, lobster or shrimp. But if we had to pick one… it is the in your face with flavor paired with incredibly tasty fish version that we like the most. Our recipe is a hit with just about anyone that tries it including people that don’t like fish.

We have tried this out with California sheephead, yellowtail, Bluefin tuna, Yellowfin tuna, Cabrilla, Mahi-mahi (Dorado) and now redfish. We love them all. If I had to pick one… I would say California sheephead and yellowtail.


  • 2-3 lbs. of fresh fish, fresh crab of fresh shrimp
  • 2 large tomatoes or 4-5 Roma tomatoes
  • 2 large cucumbers
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cilantro bunch
  • 4 yellow chili peppers (looks like yellow jalapenos)
  • 4 jalapeno peppers
  • 4 serrano peppers
  • 5-7 lemons depending on size (1 cup of juice req’d)
  • 6-8 limes depending on size (1 cup of juice req’d)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Secret sauce… 1 bottle of shrimp cocktail sauce
  • Tortilla chips or hard tortilla shells

Fish Preparation

  1. Catch fish
  2. Show off catch
  3. Fillet fish
  4. Cube up meat
  5. Squeeze lemons to get one (1) cup of juice
  6. Squeeze limes to get one (1) cup of juice
  7. Mix together lemon, lime, fish in a bowl
  8. Place in fridge for at least 30 mins.

Continued Preparation

  1. Dice up tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and cilantro
  2. I suggest wearing gloves for this next part… Slice the peppers open to remove the seeds (for a mild experience) and then continue to dice. If you want a lot of heat, dice all of the peppers without removing any seeds beforehand.
  3. Mix together the fish in the lemon/lime mixture with all of the cut vegetables and peppers.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste (don’t over salt it)
  5. Add shrimp cocktail sauce (the red should turn into a dirty water color after it is mixed together) – start with half a bottle until you get it right.
  6. Let sit overnight or at least 6-8 hours

The fish is cured essentially after the 30 minute soak in the lemon/lime juice mixture. The additional time suggested above is to get all of the flavors to come together. Each of the vegetables carry water and all of that gets extracted and mixed together with the fish and the citrus.

If you need to serve by lunch time the next day, prepare the night before and let it sit overnight in the fridge. If you need to serve late in the afternoon or around dinner time, you could make it in the morning and let it sit until you need to serve. Serve with fresh tortilla chips or hard tortilla shells and slices of avocado (we are from Cali after all).

The fish used will determine how long this dish can last. Firmer meats have about a 48-72 hour limit while flakier meats have about a 48 hour maximum shelf life. When you push the limits, everything gets mushy and blends together, not how it is intended to be enjoyed.


Cute Girl“Your salsa is really good”
Me“What salsa?”
Cute Girl“The salsa that you brought”
Me“I didn’t bring salsa, I brought bluefin tuna ceviche”
Cute Girl“No you must be mistaken, I don’t eat fish”
Me“You do now”

“This is bomb” – Pop’s

“Where is it?” “I know you made ceviche, where is it?” – Tommy

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