June 12, 2010 1:00 PM
Tequila, Mexican Cream and Chipotle Shrimp
POSTED IN: Recipes , Main Courses
TAGS: Adobo , Chile , Chipotle , Chive , Cream , Fish and Seafood , Food , Jinich , Mexican Table , Mexico , Pati Jinich , Shrimp , Tequila
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Shrimp tend to be perceived as a treat. That fancy item on a menu.

Think about what happens at a shrimp station on a Sunday buffet. It gets crowded. Even if you didn't feel like eating shrimp, if there's a shrimp station, chances are you will eat them. Your mom, your dad, your husband or friends will look at your shrimp-less plate and push some shrimp onto your plate.

Growing up in Mexico City, family Sunday lunches with the dozens and dozens members of our immediate family included giant shrimp from the Mercado de la Viga.  There was so much anticipation as to when they would majestically appear on that huge platter carried by my grandmother. Before they got to the table, people started sneaking away some. So my grandmother decided to set a pre-lunch agreement on the number of shrimp per head, to avoid childish grown up wording snaps like "YOU always get the extra shrimp" or sudden door slams.

So when I was asked to develop a Mexican menu for the 2010 RAMMYS Awards I just had to include shrimp. I paired them with some signature Mexican ingredients: smoky and hot Chipotle Chiles in Adobo, tangy and salty Mexican Cream and the iconic Tequila Reposado. 

And so, they were served to the 1600 attendees.

But before that day, the cooking staff under the expert guidance of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel Executive Chef Horst Lummert, had to test the recipe.

That day of testing and tasting was incredibly fun. Here we were, as we watched how the tequila drunken shrimp were ignited...

And here we were, watching a crowded shrimp station serve hundreds of plates.

And here is how you can get a taste of those shrimp, right at home. Along with some igniting which is such a thrill.

First of all. Get some good shrimp. Though it is always  better to use fresh ingredients, truth is, it is hard to get fresh shrimp. Although sold thawed, they tend to traveled frozen. A wonderful thing about shrimp though, different from fresh fish, is that shrimp freeze well and can survive the thawing process in great shape, keeping their crispness and flavor.

Here is a suggestion: If you are using them today, buy them thawed, but ask your fishmonger how long they have been sitting there. It should be 1 or 2 days tops. They shouldn't seem limp or sad and should have a light saltwater smell. Get them with the shrimp and tail on.  

If you are using them tomorrow or further on, buy them frozen. Then you are on top of how long they have been thawed.To thaw, have them in the refrigerator a day before using and rinse them under cold running water.  Don't thaw them at room temperature or in a microwave, or you will end up with shrimp ready for a Halloween party.

Once thawed, peel and season them with Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat a large pan over medium high heat, once your butter is sizzling, toss in some fresh minced garlic. Let it become fragrant, 10 seconds or so... and add the shrimp. 

Tequila Shrimp 3.jpg
Cook the shrimp just 1 or 2 minutes per side, so they will be soft, crispy and sweet instead of chewy, rubbery and boring.

Then pour your Tequila. This is what I have at home... The Gran Centenario. Different from the Blanco or White tequila, the Reposado is darker in color because it is aged in wooden barrels. It has a bolder flavor. But feel free to use whatever you have handy. You can also use Mezcal.

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Now: Watch it. Once you add the Tequila, slightly tilt the pan to the flames of your burners as you lightly step back. It will ignite fast and furiously, but only for less than half a minute. Here's a FLIP video for you... With really bad sound.

What I was trying to say through the sizzling sound was that igniting the Tequila gets rid of the alcohol presence and retains the bold flavors from the Tequila.
Continue to cook the shrimp until the flames disappear and add the Mexican cream...

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...and the Chipotle Chile in Adobo sauce. If you feel like it, drop in a Chile too.


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Stir it and turn off the heat.

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Plate the shrimp covered in the sauce, just like that, while they are hot, hot, hot! And toss some fresh chopped chives...

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... right on top. The chives not only add a fresh flavor and color, but add a vibrant contrast to the creamy sauce.

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Here is a close up of for you...

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Crispy and sweet, smoky and tangy, and oh so bold with the presence of the Tequila. Plus they are, sooooooo much fun to prepare! Go on and impress someone...

Serves 12 small tasting portions

1 pound large shrimp in shell(about 25 per pound), thawed, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/4 cup Tequila Reposado
1/4 cup Mexican Style Cream (such as Rio Grande)
1 teaspoon Chipotles in Adobo Sauce, or add more to taste
1 bunch chives, chopped

Peel and devein the shrimp. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large and heavy saute pan set over medium-high heat, let the butter melt. Once it starts to sizzle, add the garlic. Stir and cook for 10 to 15 seconds, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Incorporate the shrimp, making sure that the pan is not over crowded, and let them brown on one side and then the other, just for about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Don't let them over cook, they should brown on the outside, but barely cooked through.

Add the Tequila, and slightly tilt the pan over the flame to ignite the Tequila. Let it cook until the flames disappear. Stir in the cream and the Chipotle sauce and turn off the heat. Serve immediately sprinkled with the chives on top.

Pati- i absolutely adore this! cream, tequila, the smell of the sea and then chilies! mmmmmmmmm xxx shayma

shayma | June 13, 2010 7:54 PM

Dear Shayma, So glad! Try it, or when you come over, we will eat it here ; )

Pati Jinich replied to comment from shayma | June 13, 2010 9:48 PM

I will try this recipe, it looks so good and easy!! What do you suggest to have on the side?
I love all your recipes and the way you express yourself.
Hope to see you soon.

Amyris | June 15, 2010 5:38 PM

Hi Amyris!!! You will love it and yes! it is easy and fast. I would serve it with white rice topped with toasted almonds or pine nuts if you want. Hope to see you soon too, come visit!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Amyris | June 15, 2010 7:50 PM

Fantastic! Great last photo and explanation of the process.

Kristin | June 15, 2010 11:18 PM

Love your website and also recipes. the shrimp looks amazing!! Thank you for sharing this great recipe.

Liv Wan | June 16, 2010 10:00 AM

Hi Kirstin, So glad you liked it!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Kristin | June 16, 2010 10:19 AM

My pleasure!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Liv Wan | June 16, 2010 10:21 AM

Absolutely wonderful dish, and great post!

Magic of Spice | June 16, 2010 5:08 PM


Pati Jinich replied to comment from Magic of Spice | June 16, 2010 6:48 PM

I'm so intrigued by Mexican cuisine and am delighted to have found your site this morning. :-) This dish is wonderfully creamy and savory and I really look forward to learning more from you. :-)

Krista | June 25, 2010 11:55 AM

Dear Krista,
Thank you for your lovely message!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Krista | June 26, 2010 1:48 PM


I adore Mexican food and love you website! Everything I have tried has been amazing... What would you serve as side dishes for this shrimp dish???


Judy Tyler | July 26, 2010 10:21 PM

Hi Judy,
Wow, thank you so much! I would serve this shrimp with white rice (topped with toasted almonds or pine-nuts), or some steamed potatoes or even some fettuccine! As for vegetables, asparagus or green beans would be my preference as well...

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Judy Tyler | July 27, 2010 11:01 AM

MmMmM... looks DeLicious =]] cant wait to make this recipe..

Jennifer F | September 30, 2010 12:38 AM

Just saw your show for the first time and amnaviagting your site..awesome stuff...where can I get mexican cream?? thanks

geralyn | April 18, 2011 7:59 PM

what do u serve this with its look like a delicious meal

marva moreland | April 30, 2011 4:39 PM

Hi Marva,
The sauce with this shrimp dish is nice and creamy, I like it best served with a side of rice. They are also delicious wrapped up in some tortillas.

Pati Jinich replied to comment from marva moreland | May 11, 2011 3:18 PM

I had to make this! it looked soo good n better when it was done it was delicious n wit some rice :)

alejandra | July 3, 2011 5:13 PM

I had been meaning to try these for a while and I finally cooked them yesterday. They are AMAZING!!!! I cooked them with mezcal though...


Jimena | July 9, 2011 7:48 PM

this recepe is sooooo delicious

Nena | September 30, 2012 11:15 AM

Gracias, Nena!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from Nena | October 2, 2012 3:58 PM

I saw you rec. tequila shrimp it look so good
I will make it this week, have everything except cream.

martha | November 21, 2012 12:44 AM

Hola Martha, I hope you try them! They are so good!!

Pati Jinich replied to comment from martha | November 26, 2012 5:14 PM

I can't wait to try this recipe. This will be a hit for my New Years day dinner.

Chef Gwendolyn | December 29, 2012 4:56 PM

Just did a test recipe on this after seeing it on Ch 9 San Antonio public television. Did not have the Adobo sause, so I substituted Goya Verde Sauce (Tomatillo). Oh my, this is so good. Served hot from pan over chilled quinoa. A wonderful recipe and this will definitely be the hit of our upcoming Murder Mystery dinner party.


Thank you.

Randy and Karen

PS Cannot wait to try the coffee flan with tequila whipped cream!

Randy | January 4, 2013 3:47 PM

What a great shrimp dish! Five stars! My only modifications were that I: 1) tripled the amount of garlic in the recipe (we love garlic and the additional amount wasn't overpowering), 2) sauteed some chopped up green onions along with the garlic, 3) used mezcal instead of tequilla, and 4) substituted sour cream for Mexican crema since it's not readily available in my area. My wife commented that this was one of the best dishes I've ever made. Thanks Pati. I've also had a chance to make your mashed potatoes with chipotles that I saw you prepare on your show. Crazy good!

Willy | January 6, 2013 8:25 AM