If you’ve been following along, you know that we’ve gone raw at WhatYouth.com for the last few weeks. We’ve played with raw tuna a couple different ways (here and here), and got fancy and fresh with a raw beef tartare last week. It’s been fun, delicious, and the whole experiment has opened up our late afternoon possibilities — less time cooking, more time on the run having fun until the sun sets.
This week we look south of the border for ceviche’s spicy and mysterious cousin, aguachile. Unlike ceviche that gets “cooked” in an acid marinade (lime, etc), aguachile is raw shrimp that gets a quick bath in lime, chiles, and herbs before hitting your hungry mouth.
Like 5 minutes, then it’s done So, it’s mainly spicy raw shrimp. And raw shrimp sounds scary. Well, it should.
Take it from Serious Eats, my bible when I want to geek out on the why of food-related things: “Because seafood lives in, well, the sea, the bacteria and enzymes naturally presented in it are used to operating at much much colder temperatures than those in, say, a cow. Because of this, even at regular fridge temperatures, they multiply much faster than bacteria from land-dwelling animals, which is what causes seafood to spoil so much faster than its terrestrial counterparts.”
So the lesson? Get fresh fish. Find some shrimp that hasn’t been frozen, isn’t grey, doesn’t stink, and hasn’t been injected with gel in Asia (seriously). If you can’t swing that, there’s no reason you can’t use fresh scallops, or really fresh fish of any sorts (salmon, tuna, bass, etc).
And listen, I love ceviche. But I like aguachile for its extra spiciness and extra quickness. Plus, ceviche isn’t technically raw, so it doesn’t fit into this whole raw thing we’ve been doing at What Youth. Here’s how you do a classic aguachile, but you can get creative. Freestyle! You can do different fish, or sub in orange for lime, or add crunchy things like jicama or cucumbers, other herbs like basil or mint, or try different chilies. Mix it up. —Paul Brewer
- Fresh shrimp
- Serrano Chiles
- Onion, chopped
- Cilantro, chopped
- Cucumber, chopped
- Lime juice
- Salt and Pepper
- Chips, to serve with
CLEAN THE SHRIMP
Remove the heads, split the bodies in half lengthwise, and remove the veins. Then, chop the clean shrimp. I like sort of bigger chunks. (Bonus points for you if you save the heads—fry them for a crunchy snack, or use them to make a quick stock.)
MAKE THE CHILE MIXTURE
With a mortar and pestle (which you have already), smash the serrano chilies. As they break down, add a little water to loosen. Then add in lime juice, onion, cilantro, and cucumber. Season with pepper and salt until you’re happy. Let that shrimp bathe for 5 minutes and taste again.
Toss the shrimp with the chili mixture and serve with some of those big crispy tortilla chips from the Meximart. Or saltines even. It’ll be spicy, so make sure you have some Modelos nearby to sooth that hotness.