Achiote Seared Shrimp with Quick Habanero Pickled Onions

Recipe from Season 5, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 4


  • 1/2small package (3 1/2 ounces) preparedachiote paste, such as Yucateco, La Anita or Marin brand)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/4cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4cup fresh lime juice
  • 1tablespoon vinegar
  • Salt
  • 1 1/4pounds (about 24 pieces) large shrimp, peeled, leaving tail and final segment intact
  • For the Onions:
  • 1large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1smallhabanero chile, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/4cup fresh lime juice
  • For finishing the dish:
  • 3tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • Roughly chopped cilantro or parsley, for garnish


  1. Marinate the shrimp. Break the achiote paste into a blender jar and add the garlic, orange and lime juices, vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth. Pour over the shrimp, cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare the onions. In a small bowl, combine the onion, habanero (or as much of it as you think you’ll like), lime and 1 scant teaspoon salt. Cover and let stand until the shrimp is ready. (If working ahead, the onions may be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for several days.)
  3. Cook the shrimp. In a very large (12-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium-high. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the shrimp out of the marinade and into the hot oil, leaving behind as much marinade as possible. Stir-fry until the shrimp is just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Scoop onto a serving plate, pour all of the marinade into the skillet, and stir continuously until the mixture thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Thin the sauce with a little water until it’s the consistency of a cream sauce. Spoon the sauce over the shrimp. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro or parsley and serve with the pickled onions.


  1. This recipe is incorrect as written. The amount of achiote spice, at least as noted in parentheses, is way too much. We wasted an entire bag of shrimp on this meal and had to throw it all out.

    1. Lisa-So sorry to hear that! Did you use the achiote paste or dry spice? That would make a huge difference, let me know!

  2. Made this recipe several times over the years and is always outstanding. We often take the shrimp and use it in tacos with sliced cabbage, chipotle mayonnaise and finely grated manchego cheese. Doesn’t have to be shrimp either. We often use cod, and it always comes out fantastic.

  3. Really love the recipe for pickled onions. I grow red habaneros and use them for pickled red onions several times a year. These onions are great on practically everything. Chili, enchiladas, bean burritos… You can even use them as a topping on a garden salad. Red habaneros turn the onions a bright, fluorescent pink.

  4. This is an absolute favourite of mine and the first recipe of Rick’s I ever attempted. I miss watching his shows but I’m glad this recipe is here now and easy to find. I have it written out somewhere around here from about 10 years ago!

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