Yucatan Seafood: Ceviche de Chivitas

When we visit Jorge’s family in the fishing village of Chabihau in the Mexican state of Yucatan, we mostly eat at his aunt’s house by the lagoon. “Tia Lili” has her own mini-restaurant, specializing in freshly caught seafood.

My personal favorite thing that Tia Lili makes is fried fish, but second on my list is ceviche de chivitas.

I’ve been trying to find information online about chivitas so that I could out how to translate it to English for you. I had to do some very creative Googling, only to find 3 webpages with tiny tidbits of info on this type of seafood. Here’s what I found out:

-The best way to describe chivitas in English would be as small river snails.

-I can’t confirm this 100%, but they seem to only live in rivers/lagoons on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Chivitas translates literally into “little goats”. Why? Wish I could tell ya.

Anyway, the same evening that we went searching for flamingos, 2 of Jorge’s uncles took a rowboat out onto the lagoon to catch chivitas. They came back with HUNDREDS. That same night, Jorge’s uncle steamed them on his large outdoor stove.

The next day, I wake up, walk to Tia Lili’s house, and see my in-laws and Jorge’s uncles extracting the chivitas from their shells.

They use long, thick needles to get them out. Once they’ve been steamed properly, they seem to come out pretty easily.

*This might look kinda gross, but I swear it’s soooo good!*

On the left side of the board are the beautiful shells. On the right side are the chivitas.

a closer look

Konan maxin' and relaxin' under the table

They filled up an entire bucket with shells. I asked to keep them for decorating the house later (after a thorough bleach cleaning, of course)

Final product: Ceviche de chivitas with tostadas... great appetizer! and what Mexican meal would be complete without a glass of Coca Cola?

11 thoughts on “Yucatan Seafood: Ceviche de Chivitas

  1. I actually don’t think I’d have a problem eating smiles (EDIT: smiles?? snails!) as long as they were out of their shells. It’s the whole pulling them out of the shells that grosses me out…

    And those shells are gorgeous! I want!

  2. These photos are awesome! I love ceviche more than I can explain. I’ve had escargot before, so I’m guessing these little guys have the same texture as clams? Sign me up!

  3. I’m truly jealous of the amazing food you get to eat! I’ve never had a ceviche made from snails… but I love both on their own, so I can’ only imagine it’s pretty bomb. Though, if they are steamed first, it’s a play on what I know as ceviche.. either way, I’d eat it!
    Ugh… I hope you’re storing those shells somewhere FAR away, they small so bad. I can smell them through my screen! ick.
    You’ll have to let us know what you do with them!

    • Haha the shells are still in Chabihau. They underwent a several-day cleaning process involving bleach and water. They weren’t toxic, but it certainly wasn’t a smell I’d want in my living room.

  4. Oh my gosh, that looks so delicious! I really love love love ceviche. I can’t say I’ve ever had that version of it, but I can say I’d be over in a heartbeat to try it out. Yum! The shells are pretty cool too!

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