Scallop Aguachile at the James Beard House


Scallop Aguachile at the James Beard House

Photo courtesy Clay Williams (@ultraclay)

Mexican cuisine is riding such a high wave these days.

Compared to when I first moved to the US, 20 years ago, you can now find all the ingredients you need to prepare Mexican food. People are not only eating Mexican food out, but are bringing it into their home kitchens. There’s the #tacotuesday and the #taconight. Wherever you travel to in the US, there’s Mexican food to be found in airports, restaurants, hotels, fast food chains, and the offerings continue to increase and get better. It seems like the more people get to know Mexican cuisine, the more they want to taste it, to cook it, to explore its depth.

It is such a thrill to be part of this movement. I particularly enjoy traveling through the US to cook whenever I get an invitation. And I was beyond ecstatic when I got the request from the James Beard House in New York City to whip up their Cinco de Mayo dinner. What an honor! But of course, the pressure was on. What theme, which menu, what drinks? So much to share!

To be sure, Cinco de Mayo is not a big celebration in Mexico. It is a somber occasion honored in the state of Puebla, where the Cinco de Mayo Battle took place in 1862. It was a battle between a small Mexican militia against a big French army, and while the Mexicans won, with the odds stacked against them, the French won right back. Yet, move the clock forward a few years and Mexico regained its Independence.

Now, for whatever reason, which many have unsuccessfully tried to explain, Cinco has become the biggest Mexican-themed party abroad. I was bewildered at first when I started getting invites to Cinco de Mayo parties from our American friends. But then, of course, happily joined the excitement of the Cinco train. Listen, if there is an open door to celebrate anything and everything that we love and are proud of about Mexico, and share our food, cuisine and culture: count me in!

menu from the dinner at the James Beard House
Photo courtesy Clay Williams (@ultraclay)

As a Mexican immigrant, to be invited to the James Beard House, such a prestigious place and institution, made me feel proud and like my food is worth it. But, it also made me feel like Mexican food has really started to earn its rightful place in the eyes of the culinary world of the US.

You can see the menu above. Because I really couldn’t choose a Mexican region to focus on, I opted for what I called a Mexican culinary compass: different foods from different places from Mexico, a few childhood favorites, and a couple new dishes from my kitchen. Carnitas from Michoacán, caldo de camarón from Acapulco, gorditas from Oaxaca…

The first course of the formal sit-down dinner menu, after the cocktail hour, was a scallop aguachile inspired by the coastal region of the Sea of Cortez.

The team from the James Beard House is a joy to work with. We prepped the day before, as it was a long menu! Then my production team and I got so excited with the occasion that we decided to make it part of an episode of the next season of Pati’s Mexican Table, which will premiere in September 2018.

Pati Jinich plating her classic scallop aguachile at the James Beard House
Photo courtesy Clay Williams (@ultraclay)

But meanwhile, I leave you with the scallop aguachile recipe. It is SO GOOD. And it could not be simpler. It helps break so many myths about Mexican food. Not all Mexican food is fried, or laborious, or covered in cheese, or severely spiced up, or takes forever to prepare. In fact, most Mexican food is healthy, soulful, delicious, nutritious. It gives beautiful ingredients, like the plump, silky and sweet fresh sea scallops a chance to shine by just dressing them beautifully, lightly and kindly.

scallop aguachile
Photo courtesy Clay Williams (@ultraclay)

Mexican cuisine is indeed riding such a high wave today. And I can see the high tide ahead, with the wave getting even bigger and higher. So excited and honored to have the possibility to continue to ride it and bring the fruits of this journey to your shore.

Scallop Aguachile

Aguachile de Callo de Hacha
4 servings
Pati Jinich
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Aguachile, Ceviche, jalapeno, lime, Scallops
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 15 minutes
The first course from Pati's Cinco de Mayo dinner at the James Beard House in New York was a scallop aguachile inspired by the Mexican coastal region of the Sea of Cortez.


  • 1 pound large fresh scallops
  • 1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red onion, slivered
  • 1 serrano or jalapeño chile, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or more to taste

To Prepare

  • In a bowl, combine the lime juice, olive oil, onion, serrano and salt. Whisk and let sit for at least 15 minutes, or cover and refrigerate up to 12 hours.
  • When ready to serve, remove lime juice mix from the refrigerator. Slice the fresh scallops thinly and horizontally, up to 1/8” width. Spread on a platter. Whisk the lime juice sauce and pour in its entirety over the scallops, arranging so that the onion and chile are spread evenly throughout. Serve immediately.

86 comments on “Scallop Aguachile at the James Beard House

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  1. A beautiful version of this elegant but simple dish! Thanks, Pati! When we have it in Sonora, a rock scallop is the protein. Seems a tad chewier than day or boat scallops found in the US. Still sweet and a treat when and wherever we find it!

  2. I love watching your shows & learning more about the land of my ancestors. Your enthusiasm & love for food is amazing. I even have my husband hooked on your shows. Keep them coming! I can’t wait to try this recipe. I love shrimp ceviche! My husband agrees with you: the spicier the better! Much love!

    1. Muchas gracias Ofelia, same to your husband! Stay tuned guys because the new season of the Show will premiere early in October from the incredible state of Sonora, enjoy 😉

  3. Congratulations on your James Beard award. Your Scallop Aguachile looks beautiful and delicious. I can’t wait to prepare it. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Querida Pati,

    Cada programa que veo es un verdadero regalo de una mexicana a muchos mexicanos; eres autentico orgullo para Mexico y todos nosotros que vivimos “lejos de la tierra donde nacimos.” En verdad, no se pierde la añoranza por la tierra natal aunque se reconozca las oportunidades por mejorar la vida que este país norteamericano ofrece.

    Aprender como cocinar sabroso y lo que es originario del país natal es un deleite para el paladar y el espíritu.

    Viva Pati Jinich!!

  5. Congratulations Patti on your award. I have been a professional chef for 20 years and Mexican cuisine is one of my fave to prepare. I have travelled to Mexico and Central America extensively and love exploring the cultures and their food. You help share this with all your viewers. I feel like I am your soul sister in the kitchen…..
    Your chef jacket in the photo is amazing!!!!!!! Do you sell those through your website????

    1. Thank you so much Debra! There is a woman named Zoraya Robles who makes the jackets. I hope you keep having many more fun kitchen and travel adventures!

  6. Hola Patti congratulations for cooking at the James Beard house I have been a guest there wish I was, when you were cooking. The kitchen is small but you dish looked beautiful. Congratulations

  7. You are such an amazing woman! I love watching you and your family. Congratulations on the JBA! It doesn’t surprise me, you’re an amazing chef! I hope to be able to watch you for many, many more years to come!

  8. Congratulations are in order and we’ll deserved Pati. I never miss an episode of Mexican Table and am looking forward to the Baja California shows. Sending all the loves to you and yours!😍😍

  9. Felicidades Pati, eres un orgullo para Mexico y los mexicanos. No se si tu publico incluye a muchos de notostros, espero que si. Me doy cuenta de que la mayoria de tu publico es stadounidense y me da gusto que muchos estan conociendo lo que es la autentica comida mexicana. Y no solo eso, tambien estan conociendo la riqueza de nuesra cultura. Felicidades de nuevo por tus exitos y felicidades tambien por tu hermosa familia. Un abrazo.

  10. Pati: Congratulations to you on winning the JBA. So, so very well deserved. Thanks for sharing your knowledge of, and passion for Mexican food traditions and culture.

  11. We so enjoy your show, Pati. Congratulations on receiving the JBA! We have family in Monterey. Have you had the Cabritto from there? That could be a wonderful show. Not many Americans have experienced this culinary treat. I keep asking for it in the restaurants that I go to, but not many know of it.

  12. CONGRATULATIONS Patti! My husband & I love watching your show, & always felt your personality & your cooking shined beyond the traditional cooking shows! We also love seeing your sons when you have them on to help & /to enjoy your food. A most well deserved win of this significant award, & looking very forward to your toad trip!

  13. Hola Pati,
    Muchas felicidades, you are hard working and persistent and it shows. I’m glad it paid off by being recognized amongst the culinary elite.
    Keep being so warm and making recipes look easily achievable.
    Mazal Tov

  14. Love the recipe amazing, love your show and cookbook I have 3 grown boys and and it amazing to see your boys grow up on tv, even JuJu. You have a wonderful family and husband and all the luck with your show, maybe so day you’ll open a small restaurant, I know a lot of fans that or waiting and my middle son loves your book also

    1. I’m so lucky to have three such amazing boys and a husband who loves to eat my food and travel with me. And say hi to your soon for me!

  15. Congratulations on your, much deserved, JBA! I love how effortless and accessible you make your homestyle recipes for your boys. Pure gold. And your trips to various parts of Mexico highlight the different flavors, styles and ingredients creating a culinary palette so we, the viewers, can travel with you with our palates. Thank you. I can’t wait to try this recipe with some of our giant Alaskan scallops.

    1. Oh I can’t wait to take you on more travels, Keith….and enjoy the aguachile…those Alaskan scallops sound yum.

  16. Congrats on your James Beard Award. Love your show. Love you . Watching your has opened my eyes and taste buds to the world of Mexican food and what it is all about. Thank you Pati.

  17. Congratulations Pati on winning the James Beard Award! My family loves your show, My daughter and I have made several of your recipes and they are always a hit! Can’t wait to try this scallop recipe, they are my favorite! Excited to see your upcoming season, so proud to see a woman of Mexican descent with her own show and cook books 😊

  18. Congratulations I’ve enjoyed watching your programs and looking forward to your new series. Scallop Aguachile sound wonderful but I’m not so sure about eating raw seafood.

  19. Congratulations on your JBA Pati! I love your show and I love how you involve your children to assist you. You, being Hispanic, a woman, and a successful chef in the culinary world that is mostly dominated by men, you are an inspiration to me and I’m sure to many others. I love the recipe and cannot wait to try it out!! MMMMM!! God Bless you and your family.

  20. Congratulations!! It was well deserved. We look forward to seeing the next season of Pati’s Mexican Table. Best to you and your familia.

  21. Dear Pati,
    Congratulations on your award!!! You are not only special you are the best! I enjoy you, and your family, I have learned sooooo much from you even though I am Mexican, You are one fantastic LADY!!!!. hope you are with us for a long time. Enjoy everything you do. Felicidades!!!!

  22. Uyyyyy Que Rrrrrrriiii-iico!
    Hola Patti.
    Tan deliciosas tus recetas….Me encanta cuando nos cuentas de las comidas de Mexico Central. Yo tambien vivi en el DF de chiquita. Siempre les cuento a mis amigas lo que es la comida Mexicana Continental….Y ahora gracias a tu show, Y tus libros, las invito a centarrrrrr bien delicioso, a mi casa, Y con aguas frescas….a veces un poquito mas fuertes. (Facinadas con el interes gastronomico, y sabrosa, que es la comida de Mexico…. differente del Tex Mex tan comun aqui en el norte de los EEUU.)
    -Mis recuerdos favoritos de vacaciones, comiendo mariscos frescos de la costa Pacifica….Nayarit, La Paz, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta….Acapulco!

    Adelante Patti! Nice Job! Felicitaciones!

  23. Dear Pati,
    I can not wait to try this! I wish I were in my kitchen right now cooking this and watching your show. Felicidades on your James Beard Award!! I’m not surprised at all that you won. Estoy orgulloso de mostrar sus libros en mi cocina!!

    Los mejores deseos para usted y su familia!

  24. I want to thank you for all the wonderful recipes and letting us into your home and life. My husband and I really enjoy your show and your family.
    Am I correct in the assumption that the scallops are served raw? (I’ve never had them raw, it would interesting to see what the taste and texture are like)

    1. Thank you for welcoming me into your home, Kelly. The scallops are served raw….I hope you love the recipe.

  25. Hola Pati!

    Just wanted to congratulate you on your James Beard award. I bet when you first arrived in the US you never heard of JB, let alone thought you would ever win something so wonderful! Keep up the good work, wonderful dishes and stories and most of all how Mexican food is the soul of your beloved home and country!

    I can’t wait for your Road Trip episodes and agree with Voltaire Gungab. 🙂


  26. Hi Pati! I am a huge fan of yours! I have never cooked with scallops but enjoy eating them at restaurants. The scallops do not need to be ‘cooked’ in the lime juice mixture first, like ceviche? Thank you.

  27. Hola Pati! I’m an avid fan of your show. I’ve noticed most shows on Mexican cooking focus on either Oaxaca and the Yucatan. I’m interested in discovering cuisines from other regions. How about featuring foods of Veracruz, or the Pacific Coast states, or Northern Mexico? There’s so many other regions that deserve exposure! I’m especially curious about Veracruz since that’s one region I haven’t been to. I hope you’ll consider this suggestion for future shows. ¡Mil gracias!

    1. Oh yes I can’t wait to share with you a new region of Mexico, Baja California, in my upcoming season…and many more to come 🙂