Scallop Ceviche Tacos


Washington, DC's Maine Avenue Fish Market

On a recent trip to DC’s Maine Avenue Fish Market I spied some huge and beautiful scallops.  They were at a very good price and as fresh as can be found.  I bought some with no definite plan for how I would use them.   

Center: Hockey Puck Sized Sea Scallops

Later in the day I was flipping through some emails and came across a restaurant review for a Caribbean restaurant which featured, among other things, several styles of Ceviche.  Yes!  I would make scallop ceviche 

Really gorgeous sea scallops

The concept is pretty simple, mix fresh fish with the lime juice and other flavor ingredients and let it cure for some amount of time.  I did a little research and found that the amount of time varied widely.  Some called for only 20 minutes.  This is fine but would more closely resemble sushi.  Other recipes called for letting it sit overnight!  Maybe if you had like a shark!  Any delicate fish would turn to mush if allowed to sit in lime juice overnight.

I concluded that 1-2 hours was both sufficient, and not too much.  

The makings of great ceviche!


The other ingredients can be varied as well.  Typically they include some sort of onion either thinly sliced or finely chopped.  I like red onions mostly for the visual appeal.  Cilantro is a must in my book.  I know lots of people don’t like cilantro but for this dish it is a signature flavor.  Scallions are also critical to both flavor and appearance.  One other key ingredient is the heat.  I used a jalapeno because I wanted heat, but nothing crazy.  You could easily use dry cayenne pepper, or other favorite chili’s as desired.

From there it is really just a one-step dish.  Chop everything and mix well. (OK, two steps).

Here is what I used for this recipe:

  • 5 enormous scallops  (finely diced)
  • 2 scallions  (slit length-wise and sliced)
  • ½ of a large red onion  (finely chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • ½ bunch cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 jalapeño (seeded and minced)
  • ½ of a container of hothouse grape tomatoes (halved)
  • One turnip (cut into matchsticks)
  • Juice of 5 limes (about a half cup)
  • Soy sauce (about a tablespoon—this replaces salt)

I served it as tacos with warmed soft corn tortillas, fresh baby spinach, and cold beer!


  Ceviche (suh-vee-chay) is a style of cooking which uses acid instead of heat to cook fish or shellfish.  Usually that acid is in the form of citrus, and most often lime juice.  Typically it bears the bright fresh flavors of the Caribbean, Central and South America.


  1. mmmmm, that looks good. But, I can’t believe you were literally right around the corner from me (at the fish market) and didn’t come by!! Also, I noticed you served this with beer…How did Margaret handle that?

  2. The descriptions and photos in this post made me weep.
    What an amazing summer dish! And the photo of the makings of civiche on the counter is so vibrant!

  3. Ceviche is a favorite of mine and that recipe sounds great, but I’m interested in knowing if 1 or 2 hrs was the right amount of time to marinate the scallops. If not, how long would you suggest? Is there a trick for how much citrus liquid per pound and for that matter; cook time per pound?

    1. You want enough citrus to reach all the contents but not submerge them. Think a little more than salad dressing. As for the time, a really fresh delicate fish could do with only 20 minutes but an hour will change the texture and give it a more authentic flavor. 1-2 hours is good. Don’t get hung up on 1 vs 2.

  4. Tony, we’ve been thinking of you recently because Jim’s favorite FM vendor is back with super-wonderful fresh oysters. He sells them in pint and quart jars. Virginia apparently won’t let him harvest them in September, “r” notwithstanding.

    We gobble them down raw — a deviled-egg plate substitutes nicely for half shells. Jas makes very good oyster stew, learned by years of trial-and-error efforts to match the oyster bar at Grand Central. He also makes a tasty scalloped oyster casserole out of Fanny Farmer.

    Our problem (???) is that Buster harvests them on Friday, shucks them Friday night, and jars them in the order they come to (his) hand. This week’s jar has lots of HUGE ones that aren’t exactly suitable for the above formulas.

    Help!!! Got any suggestions within Jim’s modest skills range? Or maybe David’s — he really enjoys cooking. (He never showed up, did he, to be taught TK’s best-in-the-world chicken pot pie? Distinguished from its commercial competitors by top crust only.)



    1. Hi Elise! I think a simple preparation for oversized, shucked oysters is to coarsely chop them, sauté them in butter, a little crushed red pepper, a little chopped parsley and a couple dashes of sherry (I know you have that!)

      That mixture would be superb with crusty bread or pasta.

      For you, I would make a house call!…and David has an open invitation on the chicken pot pie! In fact I should blog that one!

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