Ceviche by Another Name…
Aguachile is a delicious cousin to ceviche. While traditional ceviche is marinated for 15-20 minutes and consist of shellfish, fish, tomato, cucumber, and other ingredients, Aguachile is a quick, spicy dish with shrimp, octopus, squid (or a combination of these) marinated for just under 6-8 minutes (my version) in lime juice, spicy chiles and water, then served immediately. To this end, freshness is obviously key.
The Skinny on Shrimp
This dish screams for fresh-never frozen shrimp. Keep everything well chilled at all times!
I use wild-caught shellfish/fish only for a myriad of reasons. By working with products in season and sustainably caught, future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy these dishes. Not only are they healthier, but they taste better, as nature intended. In this recipe, I’m using 16-20 ct. Wild-caught white shrimp from the Gulf Coast of Texas-the best I can get in my area. Available to me this spring are pink shrimp (sweetest), gulf coast browns (most firm), or spot prawns (sweet and tender). Mind you that this dish hails from Sinaloa, Mexico, on the Pacific Coast, which has access to super fresh seafood. Frozen shrimp won’t taste nearly as good as fresh.
You can make this as spicy as you wish. I’m using a mature red jalapeño which is the middle of the road on the spice scale. For a spicier kick, use serrano or habanero. Alternatively, you can leave the seeds and pith out of the sauce for a mild version. Additionally, while I’m not using avocado in this presentation, it would make an excellent garnish.
Aguachile de Camaron
- chef knife
- boning or fillet knife for cleaning the shrimp
- cutting board
- measuring cups and spoons
- medium pot for making shrimp stock
- fine mesh sieve
- ½ lb shrimp, head-on fresh, 16-20 ct. peeled, deveined, and butterflied
Shrimp Stock or Alternatively store-bought
- ¾ cup shrimp heads, reserved from cleaning
- 2-2½ cups water
- ⅓ cup carrot, rough chop
- ⅓ cup onion, rough chop
- ⅓ cup celery, rough chop
- 2 tbsp. parsley, rough chop
- 1 whole bay leaf
- ½ whole red onion, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- ½ whole cucumber, English sliced (or 1 regular cucumber seeded and peeled)
- 1 whole red jalapeno, seeded with seeds reserved (Alternatives Serrano, Tepin chile, seeded thinly sliced)
- 1 tsp. sea salt, (Maldon)
- ¼ cup vinegar, sherry, or champagne
- ½ cup stock, shrimp
- 1 cup lime juice
- 1 tsp black pepper, coarse grind to taste
- ½ cup parsley, cleaned and chopped
- ½ cup cilantro, cleaned and chopped
- 1 pinch of sugar
- 2 tbsp olive oil, good quality
- ½ whole diced avocado (optional)
- ½ tsp sea salt, (Maldon) to taste
- Chill one large platter or plate(s).
Make Shrimp Stock
- Remove the heads and peel, devein and butterfly shrimp. Reserve heads for stock and stores the shrimp separately. Keep cold and reserve.
- Rinse the heads reserved from cleaning the shrimp. Place the shrimp heads in a pot with the roughly chopped onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaf. Add the water and bring to a low boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for 30 minutes: strain and reserve shrimp stock.
Pickle the Cucumber, Onion, and Chili strips
- Cut the English cucumber into think slices.
- Core a red jalapeño and cut in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds, but reserve for the next step. Slice the jalapeño into skinny strips(The seeds and pith from the jalapeño will provide the heat for the parsley cilantro sauce.)
- Peel ½ red onion, then core and cut into thin strips (julienne style cut).
- Add the red onions, thin cucumber slices, and thinly sliced red jalapeño to a bowl and toss with sherry vinegar, lime juice, and a pinch of sea salt.
Cure the Shrimp
- Squeeze or juice approximately 8-9 limes (preferably Mexican limes) to make 1 cup of juice and reserve.
- Generously season the cleaned shrimp with 1 tsp of sea salt. Toss to coat the shrimp well. Cover the shrimp with enough fresh lime juice to cover them. Allow soaking for 5 minutes. Remove the shrimp, but reserve the lime juice for the Aguachile sauce.
Make the Aguachile
- Using a blender or food processor, add ¼ cup/60ml of the shrimp stock, puree cleaned chopped parsley, cilantro reserved red jalapeño seeds, and pith, ¼ cup lime juice. Do not over-process the puree in the blender, as this will darken the sauce. It should be bright, green, and fresh.(For a mild Aguachile, skip the step with the seeds and pith.)
- To assemble the plate(s):
- Once the shrimp has marinated in the lime juice, remove and artfully arrange the shrimp on the platter. In between each shrimp, add the marinated cucumber, red jalapeno strips, and red onion—season with a good quality sea salt.
- Spoon on some of the parsley/cilantro purees to cover the shrimp and cucumbers.
- Top with a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Serve immediately.