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Aguachiles is basically a spicy version of a ceviche. Served at Weir's restaurant, Copita Tequileria y Comida in Sausalito, CA, this dish is refreshing and flavorful.


  • 1 Pound shrimp, peeled, de-veined, and butterflied
  • 2 Cups freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 1/2 English cucumbers
  • 1/4 Cup cilantro leaves and stems, plus more for garnish
  • 2-3 serrano chiles, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Tortilla chips, for serving
  • Salt, to taste


Calories Per Serving216

Folate equivalent (total)86µg22%

Shrimp Aguachile

Aguachile is a Mexican dish that’s made with shrimp, smothered in fresh lime juice, white vinegar, spiced garlic sauce. Translated to “shrimp in chile water,” you can think of this dish as a spicy ceviche!

This recipe is courtesy of Chef Saul Montiel of Cantina Rooftop in New York City. It’s sure to be one of the hottest rooftop destinations for celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Manhattan, where guests can sip libations and enjoy modern Mexican cuisine under the stars. The contemporary Mexican menu is adapted from the chef’s authentic family recipes.

Executive Chef Saul Montiel, Cantina Rooftop Restaurant and Lounge. Photo: Cantina Restaurant.

The cuisine is as vibrant as the location, which is steps away from the Hudson River, with an expansive view of the city skyline. It’s climate controlled with a retractable glass rooftop for unobstructed viewing, no matter the weather.

A view of Cantina Rooftop Restaurant & Lounge. Photo: Cantina Restaurant.

The restaurant is a virtual fiesta of color, with a variety of individual and communal tables. And when the sun goes down, it truly is a fiesta as the space transforms into a nightclub with live music.

If you can’t make it to the restaurant, you can still enjoy some contemporary Mexican flare with this recipe for Shrimp Aguachile from Chef Montiel.

How to Make Aguachile: The Chili-Spiked Mexican Ceviche

What is aguachile? Before I answer that, we need some music. Open Hector Lavoe's salsa classic Aguanile in another tab, and put it on repeat while you read this.

Why? Because first, it's a great song, and second, "aguanile" rhymes with "aguachile." My hope is that, if you're anything like me, you will forever have this song play in your head whenever you think of aguachile, with the word "aguachile" in place of the original one.

So now that we have a soundtrack, let's get back to aguachile. I was in Mexico a couple weeks ago, mostly in Mexico City with one day in Puebla and a few days in Tulum for a wedding, and among the many great things I ate there were two strikingly different versions of aguachile, a type of Mexican ceviche.

The first was at chef Enrique Olvera's great restaurant Pujol, and it is by far the most unorthodox version one is likely to see. It's also very pretty.

Pujol's "aguachile"*, part of a series of street-food-inspired snacks on the tasting menu, was made with two perfectly circular rounds of avocado sandwiching a lime-spiked chia-seed filling. The toppings included sal de gusano (worm salt), chili, herbs, and flowers a blue corn tostada was layered in there as well.

*When a dish diverges so far from the original that even people familiar with the classic version likely wouldn't immediately recognize them as related, I feel the need to put quotation marks around the name.

Next, I had an octopus aguachile at a pretty fantastic seafood restaurant called Contramar.

This one had cooked octopus, a lime-and-chile dressing, cucumber, onions, and minced herbs.

I really enjoyed both versions, but given the differences between the two, I was left wondering what exactly aguachile is, and also what makes it different from other ceviches. Thankfully, I'm a compulsive cookbook-buyer when I travel, and I managed to pick up the Larousse guide to Mexican Cooking while there.

According to Larousse, aguachile is a type of Mexican ceviche that hails from Sinaloa. The most classic version is made with fresh raw shrimp, cucumber, red onion, lime juice, and chilies (typically serranos or jalapeños) that have been pulverized with some water—hence the name. It's usually served with avocado and tostadas, and is a popular snack with beer and tequila.

One of the most interesting things about aguachile is that, unlike most ceviches, which are marinated for about 15 to 30 minutes for optimal curing time (something Kenji has written about before), aguachile is meant to be served immediately upon tossing the shrimp with the lime, which means it's just about sashimi-raw when you eat it.

Of course what this means is that it's imperative that you buy sushi-grade fish when preparing aguachile (frankly, that goes for all ceviches, but it's even more true here). In the case of shrimp, Larousse insists on finding ones that have never been frozen, a requirement that eliminates most of the shrimp sold at the fish market.

I wanted to create a recipe that was as traditional as possible, since it's not the most well-known of ceviche types, but then I also wanted to create a couple variations that stick to the same water-chile base while otherwise using different seafood and flavorings. For those who can't find raw shrimp that are good enough to serve this way, feel free to try one of the variations below. Frankly, this is all pretty interchangeable: There's no reason you couldn't do raw fish, like the arctic char below, with the shrimp marinade, or serve scallops with the habanero-marinade I made for the arctic char.

Take a look below to get familiar with aguachile in its simplest form as well as the spruced-up versions, then knock yourself out with whatever combinations of fish or shellfish (or even chia seeds!) that you'd like.

The Classic Shrimp Aguachile

Once I had the Larousse definition of an aguachile in-hand, it was pretty easy to come up with my own version of the basic recipe. The main thing here are the shrimp: Make sure to tell your trusted fishmonger that you want fresh, never frozen, shrimp, and that you will be eating them raw. If the fishmonger hesitates, move along. In many cases these shrimp will be head-on, which is a bonus since the heads are wonderful too.

The shrimp I got were gorgeous things, plump and pink even when raw.

I split them in half lengthwise and removed any veins inside.

I also followed the advice of a couple recipes I had seen online, and sprinkled the shrimp with salt, then let them stand in the refrigerator for an hour or so while I prepared everything else. I took this step with the seafood on all the recipes here: I figured it might help, given the minimal curing time with lime juice, to let the salt cure the seafood lightly.

The Larousse definition of aguachile also mentioned using a mortar and pestle to pulverize the chili, so for this version I tried that out.

It was easy to do, though I found that a light tapping motion (as opposed to a grinding motion) was the most efficient way to initially break down the pieces of serrano chile I used. Then I added a bit of water and kept working it into a chili-green fluid. Aguachile!

Then I stirred in lime juice, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and tossed it with the shrimp, cucumbers, and red onion. Listo.

And just for fun, I got a little pot of oil going and deep-fried the heads for a crispy snack.

Scallop Aguachile With Cilantro and Jalapeños

Next up, I made an aguachile with scallops. This one is still pretty close to the classic, with lime, jalapeño, cucumber, and red onion. But here I added cilantro to the marinade, since herbs seem to be a frequent addition to the basic recipe. We often find that a mortar and pestle is the best tool for extracting flavors out of moist aromatics, but in this case I tried it out with an immersion blender and was pleasantly surprised to find that it work pretty well (and is a lot less effort).

Make sure, if you get scallops, to buy dry-packed ones that have not been soaked in a brine or preservative solution. They'll cost more, but at least you're not paying for the excess water weight, and the flavor is incomparable. These scallops are often labeled "dry scallops." If the scallops you're looking at are sitting in a pool of milky liquid, that's a good sign that they've been chemically treated and you should pass them up.

This time I built the agauchile as individual servings on top of tostadas, but you can just as easily serve the whole thing on a plate with the tostadas on the side.

Arctic Char Aguachile With Habanero and Jicama

This variation is the farthest from the traditional one, with ultra-hot habanero chilies, jicama in place of cucumber, and some coriander seed and mint for extra flavor. You could just as easily use salmon or another fish, depending on what's available near you.

To prepare the fish fillet, I started by cutting off the skin, which you can ask the fishmonger to do if you don't feel comfortable doing it.

Then I cut the fillet in half lengthwise, just a hair off center from the fillet's natural division.

Then I cut on the other side of that natural division to remove any sinews, bones, or dark, oily meat that runs along it. I also cut away any other dark flesh on the fillet, which is mostly found on the skin side.

I cut each fillet-half crosswise into thin slices. Once you do this, it's ready to toss with the other ingredients and serve.

Be careful when working with habaneros: if you have rubber gloves (I didn't) I'd recommend wearing them when handling the peppers. My hands burned for a couple hours after cooking this.

Also be careful of splashing habanero juice when you blend it. I sure wouldn't want that stuff landing in my eyes.

Which was the best of the three? It's a tough call, because the office gobbled them all up pretty eagerly, but I think the favorite was probably the classic one with shrimp. If you've never tried it before and can find the shrimp, I'd say make that one first since it'll establish an aguachile baseline for you. After that, go wild.

Is it raw?

Technically, it is not cooked, but it is not raw either. For something to be cooked, there needs to be heat involved.

When making aguachiles and ceviche, the seafood undergoes a process called “denaturation.” The lime marinade chemically “cooks” the seafood, making it safe to eat.

It may seem foreign to many Americans, but preparing seafood like this has been around for hundreds of years.

You’re going to need 1 1/2 cup of lime juice. If you don’t have enough limes, you can substitute with white vinegar.

To use key limes, double the amount of limes. That is, 2 key limes for 1 lime.

Money Saving Tip: Next time you’re at a grocery store, compare prices. Key limes tend to be cheaper than regular limes.

This recipe is Aguachile Verde – in a green sauce. There other versions of this dish: Aguachile Rojo, Aguachile Negro, and Aguachile Mango. The difference is that each use different chiles.

Aguachile Verde marinated in green sauce, however, is the most common.

Then place the baking dish in the refrigerator while you’re making the Aguachile sauce.

Do not leave the dish outside. The shrimp will go bad if they are outside of the refrigerator for too long.

How to make the sauce

Aguachile literally means “chile water.” Traditionally, we use serrano peppers, but you can use jalapenos instead.

Do not confuse this with Salsa Verde. There are no tomatillos used to make the marinade for Aguachiles Verde.

How to Make It Less Spicy:

  • Take the shrimp out from the refrigerator.
  • Turn so the bottom sides of the shrimp can cook too.

See how they are already turning pink? This means that they’re cooking. It’s exactly what we want!

Note: This is “Aguachile de Camaron,” or shrimp. There is such a thing as Tuna Aguachile which is basically the same thing, but swap out the shrimp for tuna fish.

This is one whole cucumber, but you can add more or less depending on your taste.

Red onion is traditional, but you can also use white onion. It will somewhat pickle with the sauce.

Or you can use already pickled onions.

  • Pour the “aguachile” green sauce all over the shrimp, cucumbers, and onions.
  • Mix well and put inside the refrigerator for another 30 minutes.

It’s a very simple recipe and perfect for entertaining. A true Mexican food favorite from the Pacific coastal states.

How long does it last?

  • If you are using very fresh ingredients, it can last in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • If not, try to eat the Aguachile within 24 hours.

What to Serve with it?

  • Saltines
  • Avocado
  • Homemade Tostadas
  • Arroz Blanco
  • Green salad
  • Cucumber Lime Agua Fresca
  • Cucumber Gin Cocktail

You’re going to LOVE this easy Mexican seafood recipe. Aguachiles is so tasty and so flavorful. It makes a light and yummy lunch or simple appetizer. Hope you enjoy!

Hungry for More?

Did you make this recipe? Please rate the recipe below!

Camarones en Aguachile Rojo o Verde

You know how some recipes are just meant to be spicy? This is one of them. I mean the name alone tells you right away. Aguachile translated means chile water. Although there is no water, just fresh lime juice which is essential to cook the fresh shrimp. I have prepared several versions of cebiche/ceviche where seafood usually marinates for an hour before it’s ready to serve. After 15-20 minutes, this shrimp was just perfect! This recipe could be prepared ahead of time. Since the shrimp marinates and cooks so quickly, you could prep all of the ingredients and finish assembling 20 minutes before you are ready to serve.

The difference between agua chile and cebiche is that agua chile is a lot spicier. Both actually can be enjoyed in a short amount of time. These are my versions of both a red and green aguachile with shrimp. Most often you will see the serrano version of aguachile.

How to Make Aguachile

  1. Pulverize the jalapeño. You can do this using a mortar and pestle OR a food processor.
  2. Add the lime juice, salt and water.
  3. Butterfly the shrimp, horizontally. You want the shrimp thinly sliced.
  4. Toss the shrimp with the aguachile.
  5. If you’re squemish about eating raw shrimp, you can transfer it to the fridge to marinate for about 30 minutes. This will allow the lime juice to “cook” the shrimp.
  6. Serve on a plate.
  7. Top with sliced avocado, thinly sliced red onion and peppers.
  8. Serve aguachile with tostadas and beer.

Shrimp Aguachiles In Mango-Habanero Salsa

This recipe for shrimp aguachile in mango-habanero salsa is a traditional Mexican dish that so many people love.

Here is the list of ingredients you will need to make this at home:

For The Aguachile:

  • Lime juice, use fresh lime juice.
  • White vinegar
  • Habanero pepper, you can also use serrano o jalapeño
  • Manila mango (a little bit unripe)
  • Fresh ginger, preferably
  • Raw shrimp (peeled)
  • Salt and pepper

For The Tostadas:

  • Corn flour masa-harina, the brand Maseca is easily available
  • Lard, if you don't find it use vegetable oil
  • Warm water, this helps to spred the dough easily.

For The Garnish:

  • Red onion (finely sliced)
  • Green onion (finely chopped)
  • Cilantro (chopped)
  • Avocado oil or Olive oil

Please note: For exact measurements of the ingredients listed above, scroll down to the recipe card located at the bottom of this post!


  • 1 pound sashimi-grade head-on shrimp or 12 medium shrimp, shells and heads removed and reserved for another use (see note)
  • Sea or kosher salt
  • 2 serrano chilies, stemmed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons fresh juice from 4 limes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons diced seeded cucumber
  • Tostadas and sliced avocado, for serving
  • YIELD: Serves 4 to 6 as a snack or appetizer
  • ACTIVE TIME: 20 minutes
  • TOTAL TIME: 20 minutes plus 1 to 2 hours salting time

But seriously what is the difference?

The difference between aguachile and ceviche is this. Aguachile is prepared with shrimp(or seafood) that was not previously frozen. This is why is can be served right away and there is no need for the shrimp to cook in the lime juice. Ceviche should be prepared this same way. Unfortunately, most of us do buy seafood that has been previously frozen. So most ceviche recipes you find call for cooking the seafood for as little as 10 minutes and and for as much as 30 minutes. Aguachile was made popular in Sinaloa, Mexico and it’s typically prepared with lime, red onion, cucumber, chile serrano, water and avocado.

Watch the video: Receta de Aguachiles (August 2022).