Ceviche is one of my favorite dishes, I have to make some type of ceviche every couple of weeks or I develop intense cravings for it. I also always serve ceviche as an appetizer any time I have a party, my friends sort of expect to have ceviche when they come over. Ceviche – particularly shrimp ceviche – is the main request I get whenever I ask what I should bring when I’m invited to lunch or dinner at someone else’s place. There are some incorrect pre-conceived notions about ceviche, the one that that stands out the most is that ceviche can only be made with seafood and that the seafood is always cooked in the lime juice – that’s actually mainly just true for fish, even shrimp and octopus are previously cooked when used in ceviche. It is true that seafood ceviches are the most popular; however ceviche isn’t always made with seafood. I’ve previously shared a recipe for mango ceviche, which is great combination of sweet and spicy. Today I want to share another vegetarian ceviche recipe; this one is made with a legume or bean called chocho.
One of the most popular street foods in the Ecuadorian Sierra or Andean Highlands is a vegetarian ceviche made with chochos in a sauce of lime, orange and tomato with onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. Chochos were one of things I missed the most when I moved to the US, it took a long time before I was able to find them. Chochos are more commonly known in the US and Europe as lupini beans – in fact, the first time I found them it was an Italian grocery store. These days you can also find chochos brined in jars at Latin grocery specialty stores, including some online grocers. Chochos are also known as tarwi in Peru and altramuz in Spain. Fresh chochos need to be soaked in water for several days and boiled repeatedly in between since they contain alkaline and are not edible until it has been removed. The good thing is that chochos bought in jars, and also those sold as snacks on the streets or supermarkets in South America are ready to eat. Chocho beans have a light skin, which you can choose to remove or eat as is. For this chocho ceviche it is perfectly fine to leave the skins on – you can peel them if you prefer them that way (and if you have the patience).
Ceviche de chochos is also known as ceviche serrano or highland ceviche since it doesn’t depend on coastal seafood to be made. Some people also abbreviate it and just call it cevichocho. In Ecuador, some places will have a pre-made curtido o lime pickled salad of onions, tomatoes and cilantro already made. Then when the ceviche is ordered they will place the chochos in a bowl, add a spoonful of the curtido mix, some ketchup, avocado, the tostado and chifles, and let you mix it up. I love the way the chocho ceviche tastes when everything is mixed together and all the flavors are infused into the juice and the beans. So when I make this ceviche I combine all the ingredients together – except for the garnishes – and let them marinate for a couple of hours.
Ceviches are usually served garnished with maiz tostado or cancha, a South American corn nut, and also with chifles or thin green plantain chips. In Quito, it is very popular to also accompany ceviche with popcorn. I love avocados, but don’t usually serve them as a garnish for ceviche. However, this vegetarian ceviche de chochos is one of the exceptions, it goes great with avocados. Some aji or spicy hot sauce is also an essential side for ceviche.
Recipe: Vegetarian ceviche de chochos
Summary: Ceviche de chochos is a vegetarian ceviche made with chocho beans, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, limes, oranges and tomato sauce. It is served with maiz tostado, chifles or plantain chips, avocados and hot sauce.
Ingredients (for 8-10 portions)
- 4 cups of chochos or lupini beans, about 20 oz
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2-3 tomatoes, thinly sliced
- Juice of 2 oranges
- Juice of 8-10 small limes
- 1 small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 tbs of light olive oil (you can use regular olive oil, but I find that it overpowers the ceviche)
- ¼ – ½ cup of tomato sauce or ketchup, adjust according to your preference
- Salt to taste
- Place the sliced red onions in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt (about 1 tbs) and cover with warm water. Let them soak for about 10 minutes, then drain the water and rinse well with cold water. This will help remove the bitterness from the onions.
- Combine the washed red onions, tomato slices, chochos, tomato sauce or ketchup, chopped cilantro, lime juice, orange juice, olive oil and salt (not a lot is needed as the chochos are already salty).
- Let the chocho ceviche marinate for a couple of hours in the refrigerator before serving.
- Serve cold with maiz tostado, green plantain chips, avocado and hot sauce.