• Ceviche is cooked only, in effect, by chemical action caused by its acidic marinade/pickling; it's never cooked by heat (not even briefly). Alas, the heatless preparation peculiar to this dish exposes humans to health risks [....]
In particular, unlike when cooking with physical heat, relying on the chemical action
of edible acids
will not kill any-&-all parasites
. The preparation method of the subject dish is categorized by scientific experts as "raw
or lightly preserved
fish", along with "sashimi, sushi, ceviche
, and gravlax" [‡].
Heat is not the only solution: Freezing
to proper subzero temperatures
also kills parasites, altho' as a practical matter, doing so requires commercial equipment [‡]. I assume, but do not claim to know, that the flash-freezers
on-board fishing boats can achieve those specified low temperatures. For some years now, such freezing has been an early step in preparing sushi
; it's at least "recommended" in Japan, and legally required in various Anglophone countries, including the U.S.A.
• Escabeche has comparable ingredients, but differs by being cooked by heat [....]
that attains proper peak temperatures kills parasites
[‡]; these temperatures are significantly lower than, e.g., the low smoking point of olive oil. So eating escabeche
does not pose the risks that eating ceviche
poses only those risks that are posed by consuming seafood cooked by other methods in a restaurant, e.g.: risks from any improper handling
in the chain of custody from its raw suppliers to the restaurant, and from any unsanitary habits
of restaurant staff. The latter, I've read, can be rather reliably judged from the condition of the rest-rooms.
My words above shouldn't be dismissed as squeamish alarmism: Parasites are relatively common in the flesh of ambush-predators
that sprawl on the ocean bottom while waiting for their prey to appear. I know for a fact that this is an issue for halibut (i.e., in California [†]). I suspect that anxiety about cod from their fisheries based in New England and Maritime Canada wouldn't be easily dismissed, especially because 1 parasite is commonly called (ahem!
) the "cod worm
Note ‡: Robert J. Price, Ph.D., and Pamela D. Tom: "Parasites in Marine Fishes". UCSGEP 90-7, August 1990. <https://web.archive.org/web/20110927063512/http://seafood.ucdavis.edu/Pubs/parasite.htm
>. Coäuthor Robert Price is indeed California's publicly accessible expert for this Web-page's not-entirely-pleasant subject-matter. And U.C. Davis (Yolo Co.?), where the state's flagship animal husbandry, food science, and veterinary departments/schools are situated, is exactly 1 of the prime places that a knowledgeable person would expect to find him. At least back before the "Golden State's" 1990s series of budget crises provided financial excuses for it to begin abandoning its life-sciences responsibilities to the feds.
Note †: Let's just say that what was, um, in the gut of my much-bigger-than-barely-legal halibut was far from being a microscopic
anything. More like a fine size for impaling as bait on a boy's fishing hook. Do I hear a distant "Eeeuuuwww!"