Raw fish is quite easy to find across L.A. County. Nigiri sushi is beloved by nearly every resident, as are its many locally created cousins: tuna tartare, California rolls, spicy tuna on crispy rice.
The fish dish family tree extends to the rest of the Pacific Rim, too. Going both north to south and east to west (or is it west to east?), seafaring people long ago figured out how to best use fish, from storing it in salted rice (the origins of sushi) to preserving it in fruit juice and spices. That's where ceviche comes from.
The native people of Peru probably came up with the ceviche prototype thousands of years ago, using local fruit and whitefish. As citrus spread across the world, so did the method of “cooking” fish in it — when E.P & L.P. opened, we learned about Fijian ceviche — but Peru can reasonably claim credit for developing the dish as we know it today.
Los Angeles is much more familiar with Mexican ceviche than Peruvian, though. This is mostly an issue of demographics. Accordingly, many of us don't realize that aguachile is different from ceviche, or that fish is the more common seafood to use, rather than shrimp, or that ceviche is traditionally served with sweet potatoes. (And corn, though some argue that's an Ecuadorian flourish.)
A hunt for quality Peruvian ceviche turned up relatively few results. Mexican-style ceviche is ubiquitous here; a lot of the best options come from carts and trucks. But even though some prefer Peruvian-style, it's hard to find a restaurant that's creating inspired versions of the near-ancient food.
Enter Misky Misky, in West Covina. There's a number of different seafoods to choose from, marinated in leche de tigre, the sauce of lime, onion, aji amarillo chili, salt, pepper and fish juice, in which ceviche is created (and also used as a hangover cure). The restaurant always offers specials, often mussels and oysters that are steamed before marination. It also has tiraditos, the sashimi-cut fish topped with a soy-infused sauce, which will convince you of the Japanese influence on contemporary Peruvian cuisine. If that's all too much, start with the people-pleasing ceviche topped with fried calamari.
And revel in our international culinary options.
125 N. Fairway Lane, West Covina; (626) 966-0600, miskymisky.com.