Ceviche, capish? Until recently, I thought ceviche was exclusively a dish consisting of raw seafood that appears cooked because it has been left to marinate in fresh lime juice. (The acidity in lime juice causes proteins in seafood to denature, turning the meat from translucent to opaque, and from raw to flaky and firm.)

Many cultures do make their ceviche that way, but the process can be much quicker. On a recent trip to Singapore, I saw several Peruvian chefs make ceviche in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. The chefs mixed raw lobster, sea urchin roe, oysters, fish and squid with pre-made flavourings such as leche de tigre (lime juice, garlic, onion and chillies) and/or finely minced salsas, added crunchy elements such as cancha (toasted corn) or thinly sliced shallots, and then served the dish immediately. The seafood resembled sashimi and the flavours were fresh and vibrant.

Although ceviche (also spelled cebiche) is best known as coming from Peru, it's also made in other Spanish-speaking parts of Central, South and North America.

Ceviche is raw (even if it looks cooked), so it's essential that the seafood is very fresh, harvested from clean waters and prepared under sanitary conditions. Because there is the risk of foodborne illness, ceviche shouldn't be consumed by anyone who is pregnant, very young or very elderly, or who has a compromised immune system.