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Raw fish has been a delicacy for thousands of years. Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, praises the thinnest slivers of uncooked meat and seafood called kuai in his writings. The Japanese first nibbled narezushi, or fermented fish preserved with salt, during the Bronze Age, when farmers were just beginning to grow rice. (You’ve no doubt come into contact with one of its modern iterations, the California roll.) Hawaiians have poke (pronounced poh-kay), and Latin Americans have ceviche, which originates on the Pacific coast of Peru. The lemons and limes essential to the Nikkei marinade called leche de tigre, the bedrock of tiraditos and escabeche, arrived with Spanish and Portuguese traders—centuries before “fusion” cuisine was a thing.  

Handling is crucial with all forms of raw fish, which should be chilled until preparation and serving. Buy only the freshest seafood—sushi-grade tuna, salmon, scallops, etc.—from a trusted fishmonger. Or better yet, go straight to the source: producers like Peeko Oysters on Long Island or Island Creek Oysters in Massachusetts. Don’t forget to recycle the shells.

Requiring minimal prepwork, these delectable starters and light mains are culinary keepers, so bookmark them or keep them in your recipe binder for inspiration. 

Ceviche Verde

Ceviche Verde with Homemade Tortilla Chips
Photography by Jenny Huang

Inspired by chef Gonzalo Guzmán of Nopalito, this emerald-hued tomatillo and lime ceviche pairs firm white halibut or cod with chewier squid, for a vibrantly flavored dish. Get the recipe >

Nikkei Tiradito with Togarishi and Radish

Ceviche
Photography by Ted Cavanaugh

Tiraditos are similar to sashimi or carpaccio and belong to the Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine, Nikkei. This tuna version is cured with leche de tigre, a citrus-chili marinade. Get the recipe >

Salmon Ceviche with Avocado and Mango

Salmon Ceviche with Avocado and Mango
Photography by Ted Cavanaugh

This universally adored combo of salmon and avocado is called palta in Lima’s cevicherías. Get the recipe >

Chirashi

Japanese Sashimi and Rice (Chirashi)
Photography by Stacy Adimando

Kanau Sushi in Houston serves this chirashi, which means “scattered” in Japanese and refers to the toppings in this comforting rice bowl. Get the recipe >

Tuna Poke

Hawaiian Poke
Photography by Linda Xiao; Food Styling by Jason Schreiber; Prop Styling by Summer Moore

Here is our favorite recipe for ahi tuna poke, one of the essential dishes of native Hawaiian cuisine. Get the recipe >

Oysters with Grilled Pineapple and Thai Basil

Raw Oysters with Grilled Pineapple and Thai Basil
Photography by Ted Cavanaugh

Instead of mignonette, bright citrus juice and fresh herbs pep up these oysters served with seared pineapple. Bird’s eye chilies give the bivalves a kick, too. Get the recipe >

Oysters with Lemon Oil and Urfa Biber

raw oyster
Photography by Ted Cavanaugh

The Turkish dried chili called urfa biber adds heat to this briny raw-bar staple. Get the recipe >

Shrimp Crudo with Creme Fraiche

Shrimp Crudo with Creme Fraiche, Apple, Chard, and Shallot
Photography by Eva Kolenko

Crudo means raw in Italian. This refreshing recipe from Puglia calls for whole gamberi rossi, the region’s large red shrimp, and seasons them with cider vinegar, shallots, and a dollop of crème fraîche. Get the recipe >

Sea Bass Crudo

Seabass Crudo Recipe
Photography by Paola + Murray; Food Styling by Jason Schreiber; Prop Styling by Carla Gonzalez-Hart

Chef Ignacio Mattos of Estela shares this lime-spritzed crudo technique for sea bass or snapper. Get the recipe >

Ceviche de Atun

Ceviche de Atún con Piña
Photography by Maura McEvoy

Chef Carlos Raba of Baltimore’s Clavel Mezcaleria makes this tuna ceviche with a serrano-ginger marinade that he grew up eating in Sinaloa, Mexico. Get the recipe >

Tuna Tartare

Tuna Tartare Recipe
Photography by Paola + Murray; Food Styling by Barrett Washburne; Prop Styling by Carla Gonzalez-Hart

Farideh Sadeghin updates this retro restaurant classic with splashes of soy and mirin. Get the recipe >

Scallop Aguachile

Mezcal Aguachile Recipe on Orange Dish
Photography by Belle Morizio

Substituting the traditional chiles with mezcal adds a smoky note to these savory scallops. Get the recipe >

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