PANAMA. Many countries claim ownership of ceviche, (raw fish, marinated in lemon and garlic) but when it comes to food, as the old adag...
PANAMA. Many countries claim ownership of ceviche, (raw fish, marinated in lemon and garlic) but when it comes to food, as the old adage says “the “ test of the pudding is in the tasting”.
Fresh and tangy, affordable and ubiquitous, that is ceviche in Panama.
Peru claims it as a national emblem, Costa Rica has its own recipe. Mexico has a predictable version, Ecuador too. But for me, Panama’s ceviche is the real deal.
The truth is that the delicacy belongs to America, the continent.
It was developed along the American coast by indigenous cultures; born out of their dependence on fishing for a living.
Raw food may raise a few eyebrows, but ceviche is hardly raw. The chunks of white fish, usually sea bass, are marinated in lemon juice salt and whatever local condiments are at hand. This softens the flesh fibers and chemically cooks it.
In Panama, the fish is left to pickle overnight in lemon juice, cilantro and onion.
Beer or wine and ceviche is the perfect combination for a weekend afternoon.
Ceviche is an ubiquitous appetizer. Everyone has a favorite spot to enjoy it on a weekend afternoon, accompanied by a cool beer.You can order ceviche in almost any restaurant in Panama. Why so popular? Easy, it has a fine reputation as an aphrodisiac.
An all time favorite is Mi Ranchito in Amador, nothing better than gazing into the ocean, enjoy the breeze and a cool drink with the subject of your seduction. In the city, my posh friends recommend Restaurant Segundo Muelle to enjoy an upper crust Peruvian ceviche.
GOURMET TO GO
La Cocina de Sophy is a quaint little store in San Francisco that offers a ceviche to die for. They are popular for their is a creamy ceviche with green apple pieces. Their varieties are mouth watering, ceviche with grapes, with cashew nuts, with pineapple and not only bass but octopus and shrimp as well.
The bloody Mary version is absolutely delicious. My winner was not only the ceviche but the little pastry baskets made with integral flour.
The store specializes in catering but you can pass by and pick your bite size of any of their delicacies. The staff is friendly and the store has much more than ceviche for your next party.
Close by there is Grand Deli Gourmet, one of my favorite shops in town. I chose there ceviche with pesto, strange but turned out to be a pleasant combination of tangy and herby.
At Mercado del Marisco you can buy an overflowing cup of ceviche for $2 with the added benefit of walking around to get your own fresh fish to make ceviche at home.
Popular choices to pick up ceviche for your entertaining nights are Tio Caiman and Bodega Mi Amiga. Buy it by the gallon !
Vegetarians have their own choice in ceviche too. Pixbae ceviche is an exotic recipe and available at gourmet places like Cocina de Sophy and Grand Deli Gourmet. Once I came across green plantain ceviche backpacking in Costa Rica, which was made with the same procedure, chunks of boiled green plantain marinated in citrus juice. Simply delicious.
La Cocina de Sophy, Calle 69 East San Francisco, phone: 301-3366
Grand Deli Gourmet, Calle 50 phone: 226-1885
Segundo Muelle, Calle Crisantemos San Francisco (Turn right at Larosch motors Calle 50)
Mi Ranchito, Amador, phone: 228-0116
Tio Caiman, Cincuentenario avenue, phone: 267-9497
Bodega Mi Amiga, Porras Avenue, phone 226-1646