Scallop Aguachiles in Volcano Sauce

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I first tasted this bright green aguachiles in Cabo San Lucas at bustling Taqueria Rossy, where it was made with small local scallops just a few hours out of the water. Aguachiles is simply raw shellfish, always sweet and fresh (usually shrimp or scallops, but any very fresh seafood may be used), combined with a vivid sauce and crunchy vegetables just before serving. It is even less “cooked” than ceviche. As the name warns, this aguachiles is very spicy, and for maximum heat and freshest flavor, it should be made just before you need it. Combine the seafood and salsa immediately before serving. The scallops cure before your eyes. Look for untreated or dry-pack scallops, which are naturally firm and sweet.

Ingredients

  • 1 hothouse cucumber
  • ½ red onion
  • 6 medium tomatillos
  • 2–4 large jalapeños (depending on your chile tolerance)
  • 1 cup packed cilantro, leaves and small stems only (about 1 medium bunch)
  • teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound very fresh, dry-pack (untreated) scallops
  • ¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ cup julienned red (bell) pepper
  • Warm corn tostadas

Method

  1. Peel the cucumber, trim both ends, halve it lengthwise, and cut it into very thin slices. Peel the onion, trim the top and bottom, and cut it into paper-thin slices.
  2. Husk and wash the tomatillos, and cut them into quarters. Stem the jalapeños and cut them into several pieces without removing the seeds. Place half of the jalapeño pieces in a food processor with the tomatillos, cilantro, and salt. Puree to a smooth, bright-green sauce, scraping the sides of the bowl several times. Taste for heat—the sauce should be very spicy—and add more jalapeños as needed.
  3. Pat the scallops dry and remove the fibrous muscle from the sides. Cut each scallop into slices about ¼ inch thick. Toss the scallops with the lime juice so they are coated on all sides. Combine the salsa with the onions and cucumbers, then fold in the scallops.
  4. Serve right away in a chilled bowl, with the julienne red pepper scattered on top and tostadas on the side. If the aguachiles will be on a buffet, set the serving bowl on ice.