Aguachile That's Perfect For Warm Weather Days

Aguachile is a vibrant, green, classically Mexican dish that will give you a whole new outlook on ceviche. It makes for a perfect treat for warm weather days, according to food blogger & photographer Ksenia Prints of At the Immigrant's Table.

Everyone knows ceviche, the Latin American dish of raw fish or seafood that's been cured in fresh fruit juices, with the acid in the juices curing the fish and making it safe to eat. But few know aguachile — which translates to "pepper water" in Spanish — ceviche's bright green cousin from Mazatlan, in the Mexican state of Sinaloa (via The Mazatlan Post).

Aguachile and ceviche trace their origins to the Inca civilizations of 2,000 years ago, says Cafe Carmo, when the original inhabitants of the Americas likely cured their fish in fermented liquids. Then the Spaniards came ashore to Sinaloa, bringing with them the citrus of the Arabian peninsula and discovering the local penchant for spice, meaning that raw seafood met lime juice and chili peppers. Thus, aguachile was born.

If you haven't tried it yet, get ready to fall in love with aguachile, a beautiful, spicy dish that looks like a landscape painting in green — and discover your inner spice lover.

Gather the ingredients for aguachile

Our aguachile is made with raw shrimp, which is marinated in a mixture of lime juice, chiles, olive oil, cilantro, and garlic – the fiery water that its name alludes to. We recommend getting your shrimp peeled and deveined ahead of time, preferably with their tails off. This will save you the messy process of cleaning them when you're in the middle of making aguachile.

From the produce department, you'll want to grab some limes, a red onion, fresh cilantro, chiles, a garlic clove, avocadoes, cucumbers, and radishes if you like them. Traditionally, aguachile relies on the Sinaloan chiltepin peppers, according to Masterclass, but more common renditions in the United States use a mix of serrano and jalapeno peppers.

From the pantry, we'll also need a dash of white vinegar, a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. And of course, plenty of tortilla chips to eat it all up!

Butterfly shrimp and prep your other aguachile ingredients

If your shrimp are already cleaned and deveined, we're good to get to cut them up for aguachile. Otherwise, make sure you take care of that first before moving on to the next step.

When you're ready, butterfly the shrimp by laying them flat on a cutting board and cutting each individual shrimp from the side, splitting it into two halves lengthwise. This will leave you with beautiful pieces of shrimp that are quicker to marinate and easier to eat. If you're not so confident in your knife skills, feel free to just cut the shrimp into bite-size pieces.

Slice the cucumber and red onion on a mandoline — remember to use the handguard, please! — or cut them very thinly using a sharp knife. Dice half the peppers roughly. Cut the other half into thin slices. If you're using habanero and jalapeno, slice the jalapeno and chop the habanero. Chop the cilantro.

Marinate shrimp for aguachile

Transfer the butterflied shrimp to a shallow glass serving dish, arranging them in one layer as much as possible. The reason we use a glass serving dish is that glass is a non-reactive material that will not counteract the lime juice we'll be using. A ceramic dish may also do, but it could get discolored, so glass really is your best bet here. Also, laying the shrimp in one layer will help all of them marinate equally.

Add 1/2 of the lime juice to the shrimp, making sure you have enough to cover all of them. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stir to dissolve, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Blend the sauce for aguachile

Let's make our marinade for the shrimp! This is going to be an explosive, refreshing citrus-heavy mix of lime, peppers, cilantro, and garlic, so be prepared for a full burst of flavor.

In a blender, combine remaining lime juice, olive oil, 1 1/2 spicy peppers, 3/4 cup cilantro, 1 garlic clove, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. You may want to roughly dice the garlic first if your blender is not very powerful.

Blend until fully combined and all the ingredients are emulsified. Taste and correct seasonings as needed. The flavor here should be bold and in-your-face, so don't try to soften it up. The marinade will mellow a bit when it mixes with the shrimp.

Combine shrimp and aguachile sauce

It's time to marry our shrimp and bright, fiery marinade. This is where the flavor is at! Take your shrimp out of the fridge and add the green marinade to the glass dish. Mix well to combine.

Traditionally, aguachile is served totally raw, but we give you an option to let it rest as well if you want to be doubly sure that the acid from the limes has fully cured the shrimp. For that, simply let your aguachile sit in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes, though you can also leave it there for up to 4 hours. If your shrimp is fresh, you're absolutely sure of its provenance, and therefore feel pretty confident, continue directly to the next stage.

Soak onion slices for aguachile

While the shrimp is taking a brief sojourn in the marinade, we can take care of the onions. Aguachile gets topped with onion slices, and we'd like to soften them a bit to make sure you don't get an abrasive mouthful of onion upon the first bite.

Transfer the onion slices to a small bowl. Cover the slices with water and add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar. Set aside. Apart from cutting the bite of raw red onion, the white vinegar will help the bright pink color of the red onion to come through, thus adding beautiful streaks to your assembled aguachile platter. This will contrast very nicely with all the green! While here, take a minute to cut open and pit an avocado, cutting the "meat" inside into attractive slices.

Layer aguachile and serve

When you are satisfied with how long your shrimp has been resting in the marinade and you're ready to eat, it's time to plate the aguachile. This step requires a bit of artistic flair, so let your inner painter run wild!

To serve aguachile, transfer marinated shrimp to an attractive platter. Drain the marinated red onion slices. Top the shrimp interchangeably with scattered cucumber slices, remaining jalapeno slices, avocado, and radish slices (if using). Garnish with remaining diced cilantro, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.

Serve aguachile immediately with tortilla chips. Aguachile needs to be eaten raw and cannot be kept for more than a day, so get your appetite ready for this delicious sojourn into the province of Sinaloa, Mexico.

Aguachile That's Perfect For Warm Weather Days
5 from 13 ratings
Aguachile is a vibrant, green, classic Mexican dish that will give you a whole new outlook on ceviche. It makes for a perfect treat for warm weather days, too
Prep Time
15
minutes
Cook Time
30
minutes
Servings
2
servings
aguachile served on tortilla chips
Ready in 45 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Juice of 4 limes (1 cup of lime juice)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 jalapenos OR 1 habanero and 1 jalapeno
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 avocado
  • ½ English cucumber or 1 Lebanese cucumber
Optional Ingredients
  • Radishes
  • Tortilla chips, for serving
Directions
  1. Butterfly shrimp flat on a cutting board by cutting each shrimp into two halves, lengthwise.
  2. Transfer shrimp to a shallow glass serving dish, arranging them in one layer as much as possible. Add ½ of the lime juice (about ½ cup), or enough to cover the shrimp. Add ½ teaspoon salt, stir to dissolve, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Slice cucumber and red onion on a mandoline, or cut them very thinly using a sharp knife. Dice half the peppers roughly and cut the other half into thin slices (if using habanero and jalapeno, slice the jalapeno and dice the habanero). Chop cilantro.
  4. Transfer onion slices to a small bowl, cover with water, and add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar. Set aside.
  5. In a high-powered blender, combine remaining lime juice, olive oil, 1 ½ peppers, ¾ cup cilantro, 1 garlic clove, and ½ teaspoon salt. Blend until fully combined and all the ingredients are emulsified. Taste and correct seasonings.
  6. Add marinade to shrimp, and stir to combine. Let sit for a minimum of 30 minutes in the refrigerator, though you can also leave this up to 4 hours.
  7. To serve aguachile, transfer marinated shrimp to an attractive platter. Drain the marinated red onion slices. Top interchangeably with scattered cucumber slices, remaining jalapeno slices, avocado, and radish slices (if using).
  8. Garnish with remaining diced cilantro, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Serve with tortilla chips.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 531
Total Fat 31.1 g
Saturated Fat 4.7 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 285.8 mg
Total Carbohydrates 36.3 g
Dietary Fiber 13.1 g
Total Sugars 7.5 g
Sodium 1,489.4 mg
Protein 35.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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