Mexican Shrimp Scampi is a fun twist on a classic pasta dish. Served with cilantro lime rice and with roasted corn and jicama, this Mexican shrimp recipe is a gourmet dinner you and a loved one can enjoy.
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It’s mine and the hubs’ anniversary! I was trying to think of what I could share with you to honor our special day and it occurred to me, I needed to revisit the first meal I ever made for my husband.
This Mexican Shrimp Scampi was a dish I created to be adventurous, but mind you, this isn’t an exact replica of the same meal I made him. I had to tweak my creation to reflect the techniques I have learned over the years and this is the result.
What all does this recipe include, you may ask. Well here it is:
- Chile lime shrimp
- Cilantro lime rice
- Roasted Corn and Jicama
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by how many components there are to this recipe, read this post! I give you tips and tricks on how to multitask a recipe like this so that it comes out as quickly as possible!
The Backstory of My Mexican Shrimp Scampi
My husband and I weren’t even dating when I made him this dinner. We were just two good friends who just wanted to hang out one night; I offered to make him dinner and we had a great time. It took me about 6 months later to admit I liked him and even longer to want to date him. He had such great patience with me and my angst with my feelings. This dish, though, set us off on a good foot.
What is Mexican Shrimp Scampi
Traditionally Shrimp Scampi is an Italian dish with a beautiful balance of lemon and butter. It’s a delicate balance to achieve, but when you do, it’s nothing short of extraordinary. With perfectly cooked shrimp, tossed with pasta cooked to al dente, finished with some freshly chopped parsley, it is a decadent dish to enjoy.
I wanted to play around and expound on the flavors of shrimp scampi but pay homage to Hispanic flavors.
To achieve the “Mexican” feel of this dish, here is what I swapped out:
- Lemons for limes
- Rice for pasta
- Cilantro for parsley
I also added a chile marinade for the shrimp and roasted some corn and jicama. I wanted this dish to really be a balanced meal that didn’t need sides.
Making Chile Lime Shrimp for Mexican Shrimp Scampi
The shrimp in this dish, though, is obviously, and rightfully should be, the star of this dish. My key to getting this shrimp to sing is to marinate it for at least 6 hours.
A lot of seafood, I feel, absorbs flavors quicker than your land-living creatures, so don’t feel like you need to marinate for days on end. If you are in a pinch for time, though, a quick 30-minute marinade would work just fine.
When it comes to shrimp and marinades, I would avoid any acid containing marinades (citrus juice or vinegar). Reason being that shrimp cook super quick and I don’t want to expedite the process by adding an acid to my marinade. What I did for my shrimp to have a lime flavor was to add lime zest to the shrimp marinade recipes.
Once the shrimp has marinated, it’s time to cook and make the Mexican shrimp scampi sauce.
As a side note, I kept my shrimp shells and made a shrimp broth out of them to cook my rice and for the shrimp scampi sauce!
Mexican Shrimp Scampi Sauce
In a traditional shrimp scampi, the sauce is super easy to make and can be made with the shrimp in the pan. Since cooking raw shrimp doesn’t take a long time and my sauce involved one extra step, I cooked my shrimp halfway and then built my sauce in the pan.
The best way to cook shrimp is over medium-high heat. Wait until the tails start to turn pink and then flip over. Raw shrimp only takes about 2-3 minutes to cook which makes this meal quick to through together.
I didn’t clean out my pan because I wanted the marinade bits still in the pan to give more flavor to the sauce. Using my quick shrimp broth, I deglazed the pan and reduced until it became thick. You don’t need any cornstarch slurries or roux’s in this sauce to thicken it, just reduction.
After my sauce reduced well, I added in my lime juice and reduced just for a few minutes. I tossed my shrimp back into the pan to cook for a bit longer while adding butter to the finished sauce.
Adding butter to a sauce is a French technique called “monte au beurre,” which gives the sauce a nice shine and a better overall appearance. It also helps calm down the lime flavor of the sauce as well.
Cilantro Lime Rice for Mexican Shrimp Scampi
When I first began developing this recipe, I knew right off that this needed to be a rice dish. I wanted to stay as close to Hispanic culture when fusing these two regions. But I wanted my rice to be more than just plain old white rice.
Adding Anaheim chile’s to this rice gives a nice texture and hint of spice to the rice. I also toasted my rice grains once my shallots, garlic, and chiles were tender. Now here I added shrimp broth that I had made with the shrimp shells, but you can feel free to just use water.
Once the rice was completely cooked, I let it cool just a bit and added thinly sliced cilantro and lime zest! I could just eat all this rice by itself!
What Vegetables Go with Mexican Shrimp Scampi
I mentioned earlier that I wanted this whole recipe to be a complete dish, not needing any sides. This is where the roasted corn and jicama come into play.
What in the world is Jicama?!
Jicama is this really cool root vegetable that is sweet and has a high-water content! When roasted, it complements the corn well.
The simple way that I clean jicama to eat raw or before cooking, I cut the ends off and then just a peeler to get the brown skin off. I often eat raw jicama by itself for a fun snack!
You only need to roast the jicama and corn for about 5-10 minutes or until they get some color on them. This is a fun veggie combo that would also go great in a salad.
Can you Make Mexican Shrimp Scampi Ahead of Time
Well… you can make certain aspects of the dish ahead of time, like the roasted corn and jicama, as well as the rice. Once you cook the shrimp, though, it’s hard to go back. If you end up making more rice than you have shrimp, I would store that and then cook more shrimp as you need.
I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as we did! If you loved it, feel free to tell me all about it down below with a comment! Also, be sure to enjoy this dinner with a tall glass of Authentic Key Lime Agua Fresca with Jamaica.
Hey! This dish looks perfect for date night. Here are some other posts to check out for date night dinners:
This Italian classic gets a twist with tastes from Mexico. Mexican Shrimp Scampi served with creamy cilantro lime rice is the perfect dinner to impress a special someone.
- 1/2 tablespoon dried cilantro
- ¼ cup EVOO
- ½ teaspoon chile powder
- To taste salt and pepper
- 1 each lime zested
- 10 each 16-21 shrimp raw shell on and deveined
- 10 shrimp shells
- 2 cups of water
- ½ cup long grain rice
- 2 tablespoons Anaheim chile small diced
- 1 each shallot small diced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup shrimp broth water is fine too
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 2 cups shrimp broth optional
- 4 ounces corn
- ¼ each jicama peeled and small diced
- ¼ cup Cotija cheese
- 1 lime cut into quarters
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine shrimp and marinade ingredients, place in Ziploc baggie and marinade for a few hours.
- Saute in a small amount of oil, half of minced shallot and garlic, and chile until softened and translucent.
- Add rice and toast for about 2 minutes, stir to keep from sticking.
- Add shrimp broth (or water). Cover with lid and lower heat until a simmer. Cook rice for about 20 minutes or until tender. Allow cooling for a few minutes. Add chopped cilantro and lime zest to rice.
- Set oven to broil. Place corn, chopped jicama on a lined sheet pan. Drizzle olive oil, season with salt and pepper and broil for 5 minutes. Pull and let cool.
- Warm a skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle oil into the bottom of the pan. Add shrimp. with marinade to pan in a single layer and cook until the bottom side is pink. Remove from pan. Add the rest of the garlic and shallot to the pan, saute until translucent. Deglaze pan with shrimp broth and allow the sauce to reduce for about 5 minutes. Add lime juice and reduce for 2 minutes. Add the half cooked shrimp to the pan and add butter. Stir to incorporate butter and until the shrimp are done.
- To serve, place rice on the bottom of the plate, top with corn and jicama, finish with shrimp and sprinkle of Cotija. Serve with a lime wedge on the side to add more acid to the dish.
In this recipe, I use a simple shrimp broth to cook my rice and create my sauce. If you want to omit that, use water instead to cook the rice and use white wine for the sauce.