Skip to Content

Jen Merchant’s Sheepshead Ceviche

The first time Jen Merchant caught a sheepshead, the last thing on her mind was turning it into ceviche. At first glance, the sheepshead’s uncanny, human-like teeth make it far less appetizing than, say, salmon or tuna.

However, if you can get past its creepy smile, sheepshead is actually one of the most appetizing fish in the ocean. It has a sweet, light flavor reminiscent of shellfish. Its flesh is white, tender, and flaky, making it the perfect candidate for a refreshing summer ceviche.

The Secret: the Freshest Ingredients You Can Find

The key to this recipe, of course, is freshly caught fish. Ceviche is all about the freshness and quality of its star ingredient, so if you didn’t catch the fish yourself, ask the fishmonger when it was caught. 

For produce, Jen recommends using a ripe, in-season tomato. This time of year is the high season for the best tomatoes, so look for a flavorful variety like Campari or Early Girl. 

You’ll definitely want fresh-squeezed lime for this recipe too. Ceviche is all about the fresh, bright, bittersweetness of the lime, so don’t settle for anything less than the real thing.

Seasoning the Sheepshead: Easy Does It

In terms of seasoning, a conservative amount of any seasoning will do. Jen likes a good cajun or blackening seasoning mix, but a touch of cumin and chili powder would be delicious, too. Don’t overdo it with the seasoning here, you’ll definitely want to let the delicate flavors of the sheepshead meat shine here.

Sheepshead Ceviche

Here’s the step-by-step for Sheepshead Ceviche.


1 lb freshly caught Sheepshead, fileted

2 tsp seasoning of your choice (Jen uses cajun or blackening; cumin and chili powder work well too)

½ red onion, finely diced

1 Hass avocado, diced

2 medium or 4 small tomatoes, diced

1 jalapeno, de-seeded and finely diced

¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped 

Juice of 3 limes

1. Use paper towels to pat the sheepshead dry. Lightly season the fish. Bake in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes, until the meat is a flakey white. Allow the fish to rest for a few minutes before shredding.

2. As the fish is cooking, combine the red onion, avocado, tomatoes, jalapeno, and cilantro in a small bowl. Add the shredded fish to the pico mix and toss everything together with lime juice.

3. Season with salt and pepper and serve with tortilla chips. This recipe also makes for a beautiful salad topping or taco filling.

And that’s it! Quick and easy, Sheepshead ceviche. Thanks Jen!