Crudo vs Ceviche: Unraveling the Distinctions

Crudo vs. Ceviche: Exploring the differences

Crudo and ceviche are two popular dishes that often appear on the menus of upscale restaurants, leaving diners curious about their differences. In this article, we will explore the nuances of crudo and ceviche by examining their ingredients, preparation methods, and serving styles. By understanding these differences, you’ll be better equipped to appreciate these delicious raw dishes.

Crudo: A Delicate Raw Deal

Crudo, which means “raw” in Italian and Spanish, is a broad term that encompasses dishes made with uncooked ingredients such as fish, shellfish, and meat. The defining characteristic of crudo is its light dressing of olive oil and spices. Unlike ceviche, which is cured with lime or lemon juice, crudo allows the natural flavors of the ingredients to shine.
Crudo can take many forms and can be made with a wide variety of seafood or meat, dressings, and seasonings. The raw fish or meat can be thinly sliced, chopped, or diced and then dressed with olive oil, vinaigrette, or even a spicy sauce. While lime or lemon juice may be used in crudo, it is usually in lower concentrations than in ceviche.
One of the beauties of crudo is the chef’s freedom to create a dish that highlights the unique characteristics of the ingredients. For example, pesce crudo, an Italian dish, features thinly sliced pieces of raw fish sprinkled with salt and flavored with lemon and olive oil. It is often served with a side dish such as bread. Popular types of fish used in pesce crudo include salmon, tuna, kingfish, and swordfish.
When making crudo, the choice of oil is an important consideration. While many chefs stick to the classic olive oil, others experiment with alternatives such as almond or truffle oil. This choice can greatly influence the overall flavor profile of the dish.

Understanding the Difference: Crudo vs. A Crudo

It’s important to note that “crudo” and “a crudo” refer to different aspects of raw cuisine. Crudo, as mentioned above, refers to a raw dish made with fish, shellfish, meat, or other uncooked ingredients. On the other hand, “a crudo” is a cooking method in which various raw ingredients are placed in a pan and cooked without any pre-cooking or sautéing. The term “a crudo” is not specific to seafood or meat, but encompasses a wider range of ingredients.

Ceviche: The Citrus Marinated Seafood Sensation

Ceviche, pronounced “seh-vee-chay,” is a dish that originated in Lima, Peru, although it is now found in many coastal areas throughout Latin America. Unlike crudo, ceviche involves “cooking” seafood by marinating it in citrus juice, typically lime or lemon. This curing process imparts flavor and changes the texture of the raw fish.
Popular seafood options used in ceviche include shrimp, lobster, squid, snapper, conch, and octopus. Some variations of ceviche also include ingredients such as corn and sweet potato. Additional ingredients such as onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and chili peppers add depth and spice to the dish.
To make ceviche, raw fish is diced and seasoned with a variety of herbs and spices. It is then marinated in lime or lemon juice, allowing the acidity to “cook” the fish. This process causes the fish to change color from translucent pink to opaque white. The citrus juice also adds flavor and a firmer texture to the fish.
Ceviche is usually served as an appetizer or light meal, often accompanied by side dishes such as potatoes. It can be enjoyed any time of day and is especially refreshing in warm climates. It’s important to note that while the fish in ceviche is technically not raw, the brining process does not kill bacteria the way cooking with heat does. That’s why it’s important to use the freshest, highest-quality ingredients when making ceviche.

Tiradito: A sliced version of ceviche

In addition to ceviche, another Peruvian dish made with raw fish is tiradito. The main difference between the two is in presentation and preparation. While ceviche is typically diced, tiradito is sliced. In addition, tiradito is sauced just before serving, while ceviche is marinated beforehand and “cooked” in citric acid. These subtle differences make tiradito a unique and delicious raw fish dish.

Are crudo and ceviche safe to eat?

Because both crudo and ceviche are made with raw ingredients, especially seafood and meat, there is a potential risk of foodborne illness if proper food safety practices are not followed. It is important to ensure that the ingredients used in crudo and ceviche are fresh and of high quality. This includes selecting seafood or meat that has been properly handled and stored at appropriate temperatures.
When preparing crudo or ceviche at home, it’s important to follow these food safety guidelines:

  1. Source fresh ingredients: Select fresh seafood or meat from reliable sources. Look for reputable suppliers and make sure the products have been handled and stored properly.
  2. Use safe handling practices: Clean and sanitize all utensils, cutting boards, and surfaces before and after preparing raw ingredients. Keep separate cutting boards for raw seafood or meat to prevent cross-contamination.
  3. Proper storage: Store raw seafood or meat in the refrigerator at temperatures below 40°F (4°C) until ready to use. It’s best to use ingredients as soon as possible to maintain freshness.
  4. Marinating Time: When marinating seafood or meat in citrus juice for ceviche, make sure it is marinated for a sufficient amount of time to allow the curing process to occur. This will help reduce the risk of potential pathogens.
  5. Serve immediately: Once crudo or ceviche is prepared, it’s best to serve it immediately. Avoid leaving it at room temperature for long periods of time as this can encourage bacterial growth.
  6. Refrigerate leftovers: If there are leftovers, refrigerate immediately in a sealed container. Consume within one day to ensure food safety.

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy crudo and ceviche while minimizing the risk of foodborne illness.

Bottom line

Crudo and ceviche are both delicious raw dishes that showcase the freshness and natural flavors of seafood or meat. While crudo focuses on the simplicity of raw ingredients tossed lightly with olive oil, ceviche takes it a step further by “cooking” the seafood by marinating it in citrus juice. Understanding the differences between crudo and ceviche allows diners to appreciate the unique characteristics of each dish and make an informed choice based on their preferences.
When preparing or consuming crudo and ceviche, it is important to prioritize food safety. Selecting high-quality ingredients, practicing safe handling techniques, and following proper storage guidelines are critical steps in ensuring a safe and enjoyable dining experience. So the next time you see crudo or ceviche on a menu, you’ll know the differences and be able to enjoy the flavors with confidence.


What is the main difference between Crudo and Ceviche?

Crudo refers to dishes made with raw ingredients lightly dressed in olive oil, while ceviche involves marinating raw seafood in citrus juice to “cook” it.

Can crudo and ceviche be made with different types of seafood?

Yes, both crudo and ceviche can be made with different types of seafood, such as fish, shellfish or even octopus. The choice of seafood depends on personal preference and availability.

Are crudo and ceviche safe to eat?

When prepared and handled properly, crudo and ceviche can be safe to eat. However, it is important to use fresh, high-quality ingredients and follow food safety guidelines to minimize the risk of foodborne illness.

What are some of the typical spices used in crudo?

Crudo can be seasoned with a variety of ingredients, including salt, pepper, herbs and spices. In addition, dressings such as vinaigrettes or flavorful sauces can enhance the flavor of the dish.

How is the texture of crudo different from that of ceviche?

Crudo typically has a softer and more delicate texture because the raw ingredients are lightly tossed in oil. Ceviche, on the other hand, is cured in citrus juice, resulting in a firmer texture and a slightly “cooked” appearance.

Can crudo and ceviche be served as main courses?

While crudo and ceviche are often enjoyed as appetizers or light meals, they can also be served as main courses, especially when accompanied by side dishes or additional ingredients to create a more substantial dish.