Too Hot to Cook? Have Some Aguachile
The pleasure of raw seafood and lime on a hot day
We’re officially in “not turning on the stove or oven until September” territory, at least here in New York. It’s been upwards of 85 degrees for the past week — far higher if you’re counting the humidity — and my usual readiness to sweat over a pot of soup or, even more unthinkably, a languid Dutch oven braise, has worn thin. Most of what I’ve been cooking recently has been as raw as possible. This has meant a lot of salads — true of any season for me, but now there’s a beautiful variety of summer vegetables to work with — and raw fish preparations.
I’ve covered crudo recipes before, and those are certainly still in rotation, but lately what I’ve been craving the most is a good aguachile. This Mexican dish of raw seafood (usually shrimp) swimming in a cool broth of lime, cilantro, chili, and cucumber is perfect hot-weather food. Since I’m decidedly not an expert in Sinaloense cooking, I usually defer to places like Los Mariscos in New York, which has excellent aguachiles (and many other incredible maritime offerings) on hand. But with scallops now in season at the greenmarket, I’ve been making a vibrantly green aguachile with the plump, super-sweet mollusks that functions like an AC blast of an appetizer.
Of course, you could do this the more traditional way with shrimp, or any variety of bivalves and fish. You could also stick to tradition and use a molcajete, or mortar and pestle, to make the “chile water”; mine is not quite big enough to hold it all, so I usually use a food processor or blender. (And when you have leftover liquid, it makes a great marinade.)