Aguachile: Mexican shrimp salad

Aguachile is a delicious, tangy, refreshing and zesty Mexican appetizer very easy to make. It uses an ancient Mexican technique of cooking shrimp in lime juice and is often served with tostadas (crispy tortillas). 

This dish originated in the Sinaloa region but now is very popular and appreciated all over the country.

Mexican shrimp 'aguachile de Cameron'. Seen from above on a blue concrete surface.

What is aguachile?

The word aguachile means “chili water”. Most people know this name as a dish; however, the word actually stands for the ancient Mexican marinating technique. The name indicates this dish uses a sauce made from chilis and lime juice to marinate and cook some type of meat, fish and seafood.

Shrimp aguachile is the most common and widely liked Mexican appetizer and uses shrimp as an essential ingredient, but actually there are other versions that uses also fish, clams or even octopus.

Raw shrimp aguachile de camarones.

What’s the difference between aguachile and ceviche?

People often get confused between an aguachile and ceviche. That’s because both have a basic similarity, i.e., both use lime juice for cooking the seafood or, in this case, shrimp. But besides that, there are some differences between those dishes:

  • Ceviche meat is cooked for hours, while aguachile requires less time.
  • Aguachile is a lot more spicy, the green sauce adds lots of spiciness. Ceviche will have only a small amount of chopped chilies.
  • Ceviche is less soupy than aguachile, specially if you make the version from states like Colima, Jalisco or Nayarit.
  • Aguachile is served often in a bowl or molcajete because is too saucy. The main purpose of this sauce is to add more flavors. Thus, we can say that the green sauce draws a line between ceviche and an aguachile de camaron.

Mexican ceviche 2 ways

The ingredients you need

If you are thinking about how to make aguachile, let me tell you the process is super easy. Here are a few simple ingredients you will need for this recipe: 

  • Shrimp: Fresh raw shrimps are perfect for this recipe. I added a step by step process about how to clean them, but you can also buy them already clean and use them as indicated by your fishmonger.
  • Lime juice: You will need freshly squeezed lime juice for this recipe to bring in the tangy flavour and to cook the shrimps.
  • Cucumber: Fresh cucumber adds freshness to this dish and a nice crunchy touch.
  • Onion: I use red onions for this recipe. That’s because they have a nice crunch, perfect savoury flavour and colour. However, you can also use white onions. Make sure they are thinly sliced.
  • Seasoning: salt and pepper are perfect seasonings to bring in flavor. However.

Related article: How to select and serve fish and seafood.

Ingredients displayed and labeled.

For the green sauce:

  • Jalapeño peppers: Jalapeño peppers are a type of green, fresh peppers that have a mild-spicy taste. These are prominent in Mexican cuisine and have a unique flavour. If you can’t find jalapeños, use any other kind of spicy green chilies, and remember that you can tone down the spiciness by removing veins and seeds.
  • Cucumber: Fresh cucumber balances the spice of jalapeño and is also refreshing.
  • Garlic: Garlic also has a deep savoury flavour, omit if you don’t like the taste of raw garlic.

How To Make Aguachile de Camaron

clean the shrimps

  • Slice each shrimp lenghtwise from its head to its tail and remove the shell and legs.
  • Remove the head and tails. Read notes.
  • Using a toothpick, remove the blanck/green-ish veins and discard them.
A collage showing how to clean shrimps.

Place cleaned shrimps on 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 for 20 minutes. 

Shrimps on bowl covered with lime juice.

make the green sauce

In a blender place cilantro (stems included), cucumber, jalapeno peppers, salt and garlic. Pour 1 cup of water then blend until you’ll have a smooth green sauce.

The green salsa inside a blender.

make the salad

Add cucumbers and onions to the bowl with shrimps, pour over the green sauce.

Adding salsa verde over vegetables and shrimps on a bowl.

Toss well and adjust with salt and pepper. Leave it to rest for 10 minutes then serve.

A close up of Mexican aguachile (shrimp marinated on lime and chili sauce).

Notes

  • 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.
  • Don’t feel like eating raw seafood but still wants to make this recipe at home? Don’t worry, I get that. So, briefly boil the shrimps after you’ve cleaned them, just a couple of minutes (2-3 max) or they will become tough.

Watch How To Make It

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Shrimp aguachile recipe.

Aguachile (Mexican shrimp salad)

Aguachile is a delicious and refreshing Mexican appetizer very easy to make. It uses an ancient Mexican technique of cooking shrimp in lime juice with chilies.
PREP 20 minutes
marinating time 20 minutes
TOTAL 40 minutes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 2
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb raw shrimps (read notes)
  • ½ large cucumber (peeled and cut into half-moons)
  • ½ medium onion (thinly sliced)
  • 5 limes (juice)
  • salt and pepper

for the green sauce

  • ½ large cucumber (peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove (peeled)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (chopped)
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

clean the shrimps

  • Slice each shrimp lenghtwise from its head to its tail and remove the shell and legs.
  • Remove the head and tails. Read notes.
  • Using a toothpick, remove the blanck/green-ish veins and discard them.
  • Place cleaned shrimps on 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 for 20 minutes.

make the green sauce

  • In a blender place cilantro (stems included), cucumber, jalapeño peppers, salt and garlic. Pour 1 cup of water then blend until you’ll have a smooth green sauce.

make the salad

  • Add cucumbers and onions to the bowl with shrimps, pour over the green sauce.
  • Toss well and adjust with salt and pepper. Leave it to rest for 10 minutes then serve.

NOTES

  • The weigh is before cleaning shrimps. After cleaning you’ll end with about 10 oz/ 300g.
  • 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.
  • Don’t feel like eating raw seafood? Briefly boil the shrimps after you’ve cleaned them, just a couple of minutes (2-3 max) or they will become tough.
Nutrition
Calories: 231kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 375mg | Sodium: 1176mg | Potassium: 571mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1244IU | Vitamin C: 73mg | Calcium: 309mg | Iron: 5mg
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