Healthy Recipes for Dinner

One Serving of This Simple Springy Ceviche Packs More Than a Day’s Worth of Mood-Boosting Vitamin B12

Photo: Stocksy/Lior + Lone
As the last chills of spring give way to long, hot summer days, a bite of ceviche—fish or other seafood cured in a marinade of lime and lemon juice and tossed with vegetables and herbs—seriously hits the spot. The citrus juices denature the fish, giving it a similar appearance and texture to fish that has been cooked with heat, while keeping it irresistibly fresh, light, and refreshing.

Ceviche is associated primarily with Peruvian cuisine, but versions of this bright, tangy dish are popular throughout Latin America and beyond. At Conrad Punta de Mita in Nayarit, Mexico, executive chef Edgar Chávez’s ceviche calls for minced striped bass, also known as rockfish, as well as onions, cucumbers, chili peppers, and tomatoes. Get yourself a pile of tortilla chips, and just like that, you’ve landed yourself the perfect summer snack situation.

Chávez’s striped bass ceviche isn’t just yummy and satisfying, however—it's also packed with nutrients. In addition to being rich in omega-3 fatty acids that support cardiovascular health, striped bass is a *superstar* source of vitamin B12. Just how super? According to the USDA's FoodData Central Database, a three-ounce serving of striped bass contains 3.25 micrograms of B12. For context, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) places the recommended daily amount of vitamin B12 at 2.4 micrograms. That means that with just a small portion of Chavez’s ceviche, you’ll get 135 percent of the B12 you need in an entire day. Talk about a mic drop. “You’ll find vitamin B12 in a lots of different kinds of fish, but striped bass is a particularly rich source of it,” says Mackenzie Burgess, RDN, a recipe developer and founder at Cheerful Choices. “A serving is three to four ounces, so 3.5 ounces [of striped bass] is gonna give us more than an entire day's worth of the B12—that’s really great.”

According to Burgess, getting enough vitamin B12 is necessary for blood cell formation (a lack of B12 can lead to anemia), as well as proper central nervous system function and DNA synthesis. It's also linked to cognitive functioning and mood regulation: B12 deficiency has been shown to result in depression and irritability. And, studies have also suggested that B12 may mitigate the symptoms of depression and improve the function of antidepressants. “It's not yet fully understood why that is,” says Burgess. “But B12 does play a role in maintaining serotonin, which is our happy hormone. More research needs to be done, but there is quite a body of evidence that shows it can help boost the mood.”

And then there’s the colorful vegetables in Chávez’s dish, which not only add cheer and loads of fresh, seasonal flavor to the striped bass, but confer benefits of their own. “All those colors represent different nutrients and antioxidants,” says Burgess. “For example, tomatoes have [a compound] in them called lycopene, which is a type of antioxidant that can help protect our body from damage. Cucumbers have a great amount of vitamin K and potassium. All those nutrients work together in the body and keep us healthy.”

Here’s how to whip up Chávez’s striped bass ceviche recipe, which is as quick and easy to make as it is flavor-packed and so fresh.

(BTW, because ceviche does not call for cooking fish over heat, using high-quality ocean striped bass from reputable sources is a must for the dish’s safety, says Burgess. She also recommends that pregnant or breastfeeding people avoid ceviche because of this.)

Striped bass ceviche recipe

1 lb. ocean striped bass, minced
Juice of 3 limes
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup cucumber, diced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
3 Tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped, plus additional for garnish
4 sweet chili peppers, diced
Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

1. Add fish, lime juice, lemon juice, and salt to a bowl. Let sit for 30 minutes.

2. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the bowl, mix well, and enjoy as-is or with tortilla chips, or scoop into warm corn tortillas.

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