Costa Rican Ceviche

One of the weird-wonderful things about our rental house here in Playa Grande, Costa Rica, is that there are caretakers who will, if we ask them, cook food for us. We’ve mostly been preparing our own breakfast (eggs + plaintains) and lunch (grilled chicken marinated in Salsa Lizano; grilled fish with lime juice, oil, garlic, and cilantro; guacamole and raw veggies), then hitting neighborhood restaurants for dinner. But the other day, we took advantage of Carlina’s native cooking skills and dug into her homemade ceviche.

I was surprised when I saw her add the Costa Rican secret ingredient — ginger ale — but I couldn’t argue with the results. The ceviche was super fresh and flavorful, with just the right bite of lime and a gentle fizz from the carbonated soda. I have suggestions below for making a paleo version, so you, too, can enjoy ceviche without tanking your good habits. Pura vida!

Costa Rican Ceviche

Serves 3-4 | Prep 10 min. | Marinate 30 min. minimum

  • 1 pound of raw corvina (white sea bass or other firm white fish), cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • 1 cup fresh lime juice (enough juice to completely cover and “cook” the fish)

  • 2 medium red bell peppers, finely chopped

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 1 large handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup of ginger ale (optional; omit for Whole30; see note below)

  • 1/2 cup of club soda

  • salt and pepper to taste

NOTE: The ginger ale is what makes it Costa Rican; it’s also what makes it not paleo. So… if you want to have some fun, use the ginger ale. If you want to remain clean, omit the ginger ale and increase the club soda to 1 cup.


Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and allow the fish to “cook” in the marinade for at least 30 minutes. Tastes best after at least 6-8 hours; phenomenally good on the second day.


Serve with on a bed of lettuce with sliced avocado, bell pepper strips, cucumber slices, and, if you’re feeling particularly Costa Rican, a healthy splash of Salsa Lizano.

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  • Ceviche is one of my very favorite foods– but I had no idea that it is made with club soda! Your trips sounds SO amazing…

  • BobT says:

    Never tried it with ginger ale but sounds good, and I plan to try it. Usually I use Lime Italian Sparkling Mineral Water from Whole Foods. I drink a lot of it anyway, and also the lemon flavor.

  • Jenny Nagel says:

    Looks yummy! I’ll give it a go with the club soda!

  • melephant says:

    I just made a batch of this which is sitting in the fridge right now soaking up all that bubbly goodness. I used Pacific cod (cuz I had it already) and a bottle of grapefruit Izze sparkling fruit juice instead of the ginger ale/club soda combo (ditto). Oh, and I added a couple tablespoons of tabasco sauce to the marinade, because that’s how I roll. It tastes good already, so I can’t wait to try it in all it acid-cooked glory. Also, I borrowed a big glass bowl from the hot single guy across the hall, and I invited him over later for a little taste test ha ha. You rock Mel! Thanks for the recipe 😉

  • Colleen says:

    So, the paleo version could include some grated fresh ginger to mimic the ginger ale….

  • marcia says:

    Wow! That so does not look like the kitchen I had in Costa Rica for 6 months. My sink was fed by a faucet hooked up to a rain barrel. My stove was made of 2×4’s, sheet metal and wood ash. I also had a chicken who laid an egg on my pillow every day (house had an OPEN floor plan) and mangoes in the yard (if I got up before the chickens to pick them up off the ground). Yum, yum, I love Costa Rica.

  • Alison says:

    This recipe, as good as it looks is not the same as I learned in CR. I learned, onion, red sweet pepper and cilantro with everything. Maranade the seafood in lime and adda little Lizano and ketchup (yes ketchup) to taste… Sabe muy rico, pure vida 🙂

  • Matt says:

    I lived in San Jose CR for a while and loved learning how to make ceviche from my beloved friends. Some of the friendliest people I have ever known. No one has mentioned adding salsa rosa to the ceviche right before eating it. Essentially its a mix of ketchup and mayonnaise . Delicious !