Growing up in San Diego allowed me to spend a lot of time exploring Baja, Mexico with my family and friends. There is one place in particular, in the deep south, where we spent most of our family vacations and holidays: a small fishing village called San Juanico, also known to Americans as Scorpion Bay. Think dirt roads, cactus, no electricity, remote beaches, disconnecting, oh—and endless, perfect waves.
Since a young age, I was obsessed with food and the traditions that came with it. Tamales on Christmas, birria for birthdays, and pozole for the holidays. I was the first person to help in the kitchen, and always wanted to learn from the abuelas. However, there is one tradition that I will carry on forever. No matter where I am, just thinking about it makes my mouth water, and gives me a feeling of pure relaxation... Aguachile. Aguachile means “chile water” in Spanish. It is Mexico’s ceviche-cousin, but different because the shrimp (or scallops) are lightly marinated in a puree of lime juice, garlic, chilis, and salt, then topped with thinly sliced onions, and cucumber for a perfectly balanced crunch.
I will never forget that memorable, hot, summer day when I first tasted aquachile on the beach with a local family. Everyone sitting around as they topped their chips with the aguachile, and a dash of hot sauce. I was hooked. I begged them to teach me, and they laughed saying “es muy facil (easy)!” The next day, I went over to learn how to make it at my neighbor’s house, and have never looked back. As a nutritionist, I tend to put my healthy twist on all my recipes but never sacrificing flavor. Aquachile will always remind me of the perfect summertime beach day in San Juanico.
Shrimp Aguachile with Cucumber (from my upcoming Keto Mexican Cookbook)