Tropical Shrimp Ceviche with Yuca

Excerpted from the cookbook Peppers of the Americas, Maricel E. Presilla presents this shrimp ceviche using three different kinds of spicy peppers.

“The incomparable musky, citrusy flavor of chinense peppers, both sweet and hot, is what makes this shrimp ceviche special. (Note that “ceviche” is the most popular spelling of the word outside of Peru.) I first experimented with the Suave orange habaneros that I had gotten from the Chile Pepper Institute in New Mexico, which afforded me the luxury of using several deeply perfumed pods coupled with just one super-hot habanero. Unfortunately, the Suave still is not widely available for retail sale, though seeds for planting are easy to find. But the effect can be duplicated by using a hot habanero or half of a very perfumed Scotch bonnet, such as the Trinidad 7-pot, with a handful of the tiny Caribbean sweet peppers that go by different names, including ají cachucha and ají dulce (preferably Venezuelan), which are deeply perfumed. When they ripen in my garden, I like to add a few tiny pods of the wonderfully perfumed Peruvian charapita or Brazilian cumarí, lightly crushed. 

Achiote-infused olive oil gives this ceviche a terrific golden-orange color. Rather than serving the yuca alongside, as is done in Peru, I treat it like the Cuban yuca con mojo, which is doused in a citrusy mojo sauce. Garnish the ceviche with slices of ripe avocado and pair with ice-cold Cusqueña beer. You can prepare the sauce and the shrimp for the ceviche up to one day ahead of time.”– Maricel Priscilla 

Reprinted with permission from Peppers of the Americas: The Remarkable Capsicums That Forever Changed Flavor by Maricel E. Presilla, copyright © 2017. Published by Lorena Jones Books/Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography credit: Romulo Yanes © 2017. Click here to purchase your own copy. 


Achiote-Infused Oil

  • 1/4 cup (60 grams achiote seeds)
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) extra-virgin olive oil 


  • 1 pound/ 455 grams medium shrimp 
  • 1 quart/960 milliliters water 
  • 4 cilantro sprigs or 2 to 3 cilantro leaves 
  • peel of 1/2 orange 
  • 1 tablespoons allspice berries 
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt 
  • 8 ounces/230 grams (1 medium) red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced 
  • 1 cup/240 milliliters freshly squeezed orange juice 
  • 1/3 cup/80 milliliters freshly squeezed lime juice 
  • 2 ounces/55 grams (6 to 8) NuMex Suave orange or red habaneros or (14 small) cachucha peppers (ají dulce), stemmed, seeded, and slivered or coarsely chopped 
  • 1 extra-hot habanero or any Caribbean hot chinense, stemmed, seeded, and slivered 
  • 1/16 ounce/1.5 grams (3 to 4 small) charapita or cumarí peppers, lightly crushed 
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic 
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro 
  • 1 pound/455 grams fresh or frozen yuca or sweet potatoes, (preferably a white-fleshed type), peeled 
  • 1 Hass avocado, cut into 2-inch/ 5 centimeter chunks or long slices 
  • 6 culantro leaves 

Serves 6


  1. To make the infused oil: Place the achiote seeds in a small skillet or saucepan with the olive oil. Warm over medium heat until the oil turns orange-red. Turn off the heat and let cool. Strain into a glass or metal container, cover tightly, and keep in a cool, dark place for up to 1 month. 
  2. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails intact. Place the shells in a medium pot with the water, cilantro sprigs, orange peel, allspice berries, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and return the liquid to the pot. Add the shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Strain, reserving 1/4 cup/60 milliliters of the cooking liquid. Place the cooking liquid in a medium bowl, cover, and keep at room temperature while you finish preparing the dish, or chill in the refrigerator along with the shrimp. 
  3. Place the onion in a medium bowl. Mix in the orange and lime juices and the reserved 1/4 cup/60 milliliters cooking liquid. Add the peppers, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the achiote oil. Add the cooked shrimp and season with salt. Add the chopped cilantro and mix well. Cover and refrigerate. 
  4. Place the yuca or sweet potatoes in a medium pot of salted water. Bring the water to a boil and cook until the tubers are tender and cooked through when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes. Lift the cooked tubers out of the water and transfer to a bowl; cover to keep warm until ready to serve. Just before serving, remove the tough fibrous vein that runs through each yuca and cut the tubers into 1-to 2-inch/2.5 to 5-centimeter chunks.
  5. Serve family style, mounding the warm yuca on a large platter, topping with the ceviche, and garnishing with the avocado and culantro leaves.