I crave ceviche all year long, but especially in the summertime. If you’ve never tried it, it’s a mixed seafood salad enjoyed in many Latin American countries, and the acidic flavors and brightly colored chopped veggies make it a light lunch that’s perfect for taking to work throughout the hottest months of the year.
My commute to the office each day requires a bus and two trains, and in the humidity of a Chicago summer it’s just not fun to be juggling multiple heavy bags. So I try my best to take light, simple lunches into work. Meal prepping ceviche at home is the perfect way to save myself from buying lunch five days a week and actually look forward to what I packed each day.
Ceviche will last in the fridge for about two days. That may not sound like a lifespan that lends itself well to meal prepping, but it actually can be. Most of the work of ceviche is just chopping up the ingredients, so if you pre-chop and properly store those ingredients separately, the most work you’ll have to do during the week is to thaw out the frozen seafood and mix everything together.
One of the best things about making ceviche in the summertime is that it requires no cooking whatsoever. Just a whole lot of chopping. This, of course, saves you from heating up an oven or standing over a hot grill. And once you get to the office, you don’t need to throw anything into the microwave or toaster oven—simply pull from the fridge and eat.
Although my knife skills aren’t the best, I still love making ceviche because it’s so easy to customize. My favorite combination includes crab (usually imitation crab), shrimp, red onion, cucumber, tomato, cilantro, and a lot of lime juice. Everything except the lime is just diced up and tossed into a bowl. Most people also add in slices of fresh jalapeño, but I don’t include the jalapeño because I’m not a big fan of spicy food—and that’s the beauty of making your own ceviche. What I do like to include are slices of avocado, but I don’t add that until I’m actually about to eat the ceviche, because the avocado will lose its color and firmness in the mixture pretty quickly.
The key no-cook aspect of ceviche is the lime juice: the citric acid “cooks” the food by changing its pH levels the same way that cooking with heat does.
As many of us are back in a communal office setting, no one wants to be the person whose lunch fragrance wafts across the entire kitchen. And since I’m recommending a seafood-packed meal option, you might think I have zero concern for other people’s noses. But you’re wrong.
Ceviche, much like revenge, is a dish best served cold. You do not have to pop this into the microwave at all. All you need are some tostadas or tortilla chips. I think ceviche on a tostada is just a little better than tortilla chips because you can pile the ceviche high onto the tostada for a big first bite. Then, when it breaks apart after that, you’ve pretty much got tortilla chips anyway.
You could also go a very nontraditional route and eat ceviche with slices of toasted french bread or some other carb. Overall, what you want is something crispy and crunchy to soak up the juices without becoming soggy.
The basic ingredients for ceviche are all pretty affordable, depending on the type of seafood you want to include.
I’m perfectly happy with imitation crab and whatever shrimp is fairly priced that week. However, some people like octopus or fish in their ceviche, which can turn it into a pricier meal overall. Other than the seafood selection, though, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, limes, and a bit of cilantro won’t break your grocery budget.
There you have it. Your summertime weekday lunch inspiration. Ceviche is portable, customizable, no-cook, no-reheat, and budget-friendly. What’s not to love?