New York – When Cinco de Mayo rolls around, tacos and margaritas are usually on the menu. But “MasterChef” winner Claudia Sandoval says there is more Mexican food out there to enjoy.
The San Diego-based chef recommends trying her spicy shrimp aguachile – or ceviche – which is a traditional seafood dish from her native Mazatlan.
She says it is an easy highlight from her new cookbook “Claudia’s Cocina: A Taste of Mexico.”
“I wanted to bring a little bit of Mazatlan to the book. I actually have a whole chapter in there and it includes dishes like this — very seafood friendly,” she told Fox News Latino. “This is a very traditional dish that is served on a really, really hot day because it’s very refreshing. The flavors are very, very intoxicating.”
Aguachile – which translates to chili water – is a mixture of lime juice and jalapeño and it’s used to cure or “cook” the shrimp and give it flavor.
“It’s really a no-frills dish,” the chef added.
Sandoval, a single mother to her 10-year-old daughter, was the first Latina to win “MasterChef.” She believes that while it was a huge win for her, it was an even bigger win for the Latino community in the United States.
“One of the most important things going in was that I wanted to show people that Latinos are doing positive things in our community,” she said. “I wanted to show that Mexican food is not just tacos, burritos and enchiladas – even if you’ve got all those recipes in the book – I wanted to show that there are more complex flavors.”
Sandoval’s cookbook “Claudia’s Cocina: A Taste of Mexico” is in bookstores now.
RECIPE: Aguachile – Spicy Shrimp Ceviche
2 pounds (910 g) medium or large shrimp, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (240 ml) fresh lime juice
2 fresh chiles de arbol or 1 to 3 fresh serrano chilies, stemmed
1 red onion, thinly sliced into half moons
1 large cucumber, thinly sliced into half moons
1 large Roma tomato, sliced into half moons
Up to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Butterfly the shrimp: On a cutting board, place each shrimp on its side and insert a knife about three-quarters of the way into the outside curve of the shrimp from the head to the tail, making sure not to cut all the way through. Remove the vein with the tip of your knife.
Place the butterflied shrimp in a large nonmetallic bowl, toss with the salt, and refrigerate while you make the sauce.
In a blender, combine the lime juice and whole chiles and blend until they are completely broken down. Add the onion slices and half of the cucumber slices to the shrimp and toss, coating the onion and cucumber with salt.
Line a platter with the remaining cucumber slices and all of the tomato slices. Spread the shrimp mixture into a single layer on the platter using a nonmetallic spoon or spatula and slowly pour the chile-lime sauce over the shrimp (see Notes). Sprinkle with the red pepper flakes.
Have a cold drink nearby because you’re going to need it!
In Mazatlan, aguachile is served up right after it’s made — raw. If you’d like your shrimp to cook in the lime juice a bit, cover it before garnishing and put it in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes, mixing it once or twice, before serving. You will know the shrimp is thoroughly cooked when it turns pinkish white and you no longer see any gray.