Aguachile de camarón is a delicious, tangy, refreshing, and zesty Mexican appetizer very easy to make. The preparation uses an ancient Mexican technique of cooking shrimp in lime juice and the dish is often served with tostadas.
Aguachile is a Mexican recipe made of raw shrimp marinated in an acidic sauce prepared with lime juice, green chili peppers, and cilantro. The recipe is very similar to ceviche de pescado but with some differences.
The main difference between ceviche and aguachile is in the marinade sauce. Aguachile de camarón includes fresh chile peppers and cilantro, giving not only a beautiful and vibrant green color but also adding tons of flavor, while in ceviche only lime juice is used.
- Shrimp: Fresh raw shrimp are best for this recipe. I am showing you below a step-by-step process about how to clean them, but you can also buy them already cleaned by your fishmonger.
- Fresh lime juice: You will need freshly squeezed lime juice for this recipe to bring in the tangy flavor and to cook the shrimp. Bottled juice won’t work the same.
- Cucumber: Fresh cucumber adds freshness and texture to this dish and a nice crunchy touch. You will need it for the sauce and for garnish.
- Onion: I used red onions for this recipe. That’s because they have a nice crunch, perfect savory flavor, and color. However, you can also use white onions. Make sure they are thinly sliced.
- Jalapeno peppers: Chiles jalapeños (as known in Spanish) have a mild-spicy taste and are perfect to make this recipe. You can substitute with serrano pepper or any other kind of spicy green chilies.
- Cilantro: For freshness and color.
- Garlic: Use fresh garlic, garlic powder won’t have the same results.
- Seasoning: salt and pepper are perfect seasonings to bring in flavor. However.
How To Make Aguachile De Camarón
Slice each shrimp lengthwise from its head to its tail and remove the shell and legs.
Remove the head and tails, then, using a toothpick, remove the black/green-ish veins and discard them.
Place cleaned shrimp in a bowl and pour over the lime juice, season with salt and pepper and mix well. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge to sit for 20 minutes.
TOP TIP: You can make this recipe with fully cooked shrimp. Just briefly boil the shrimp for 2-3 minutes and then mix them with lime and chile sauce.
You will notice the shrimp is cooked when it changes its color from grey to light pink. Just don’t allow it to sit for longer than 20 minutes or the shrimp will become rubbery.
Meanwhile, make the sauce: Place cilantro in a blender along with cucumber, chiles, salt, and garlic. Pour 1 cup of water then blend for 2 minutes on high speed.
Add cucumbers and onions to the bowl with shrimp, and pour over the green sauce.
Toss well and adjust with salt and pepper to taste. Allow chilling in the fridge for 10 minutes before serving.
- Don’t throw away the heads and tails of shrimps, they’re full of flavor! Wash them very well and use them to make a quick stock that you can use in seafood soups, sauces, and stews.
- You can also use frozen shrimp in a pinch to make this authentic recipe. Just need to thaw the shrimp in cold water before tossing them with lime juice.
- When you place shrimp to marinate, make sure to turn them over once halfway through so they will “cook” evenly.
- You can tone down the spiciness by removing veins and seeds from chilies.
- If you buy organic cucumbers you can add them with the peel to make the sauce and garnish.
What To Serve With
In Mexico, aguachile de camarón is served as an appetizer with totopos tortilla chips or tostadas. You can also add diced avocado right before serving, it adds a nice creamy texture and helps to balance the spiciness.
For a low-carb option, serve over crispy lettuce leaves!
How To Store
Aguachile de camarón lasts a couple of hours in the fridge but the texture of shrimp changes and becomes a bit tough as it sits in the chile sauce, so enjoy the fresh dish as soon as possible.
For safe eating, make sure you prepare only the amount you intend to eat right away and keep it in the refrigerator before serving, especially if making this dish during summer.
What means aguachile de camarón?
The name of this dish means “chili water”. Most people know this as a dish; however, the word aguachile actually stands for the ancient Mexican marinating technique. While Camarón means shrimp in Spanish.
Is aguachile raw or cooked?
If given enough time to marinade, the acidity of the lime juice will “cook” the shrimp before eating it. So make sure your shrimp has totally turned opaque pink and white.
Why is aguachile so spicy?
Because the marinade sauce is made often using serrano chiles which are spicier than jalapeños. For mild spiciness, we recommend using jalapeno peppers and/or removing seeds and membranes from chiles.
Are aguachiles healthy?
Yes! The recipe can be considered a healthy choice for those looking for low-carb, low-fat, and high-protein dishes.
More Shrimp Recipes
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Aguachile de Camarón
- 1 mixing bowl
- 1 lb raw shrimp (read notes)
- ½ large cucumber (peeled and cut into half-moons)
- ½ medium onion (thinly sliced)
- 5 limes (juice)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
for the green sauce
- ½ large cucumber (peeled and cut into chunks)
- 1 small bunch of cilantro
- 1 garlic clove (peeled)
- 1-2 jalapeño peppers (chopped)
- 1 cup water
- Slice each shrimp lengthwise from its head to its tail and remove the shell and legs.
- Remove the heads and tails, then, using a toothpick, remove the black veins and discard them.
- Place cleaned shrimp in a bowl and pour over the lime juice, season with salt and pepper and mix well.
- Cover the bowl with cling film and place it in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- In a blender place cilantro (stems included), cucumber, jalapeño peppers, salt, and garlic.
- Pour 1 cup of water then blend for 1 or 2 minutes at high speed to mix everything into a sauce.
- Add cucumbers and onions to the bowl with shrimp and pour over the green chili sauce.
- Toss well and adjust seasonings to taste. Leave it to rest for 10 minutes in the fridge then serve it with tortilla chips or tostadas.
- The weight is before cleaning shrimps. After cleaning you’ll end with about 10 oz/ 300g.
- Don’t throw away the heads and tails of shrimp, they’re full of flavor! Wash them very well and use them to make a quick stock that you can use in soups, sauces, and stews.
- Don’t feel like eating raw seafood? Briefly boil the shrimp after you’ve cleaned them, just a couple of minutes (2-3 max) or they will become tough. Then toss with lime juice and chili sauce.
*This recipe was originally published on this blog on June 10, 2021. It has been updated and republished on February 1, 2023.*
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.