Skip to main content
Appetizer Recipe

Scallop Aquachile with Tomato-Habanero Water and Gooseberries

Josef Centano

Scallop Aquachile with Tomato-Habanero Water and Gooseberries

Josef Centano

Aguachile is a ceviche traditionally made in the Mexican state of Sinaloa with fresh raw shrimp,cucumber, red onion, lime juice, and chiles. At my restaurant, Bar Amá, we make with it with scallops during tomato season. The kitchen makes tomato water from fresh tomatoes and habanero chiles and pours that and lime juice over raw scallops, pickled gooseberries, cucumbers, and shallots. Aguachile is traditionally served immediately, without marinating.

But if you want the acid in the lime juice and vinegar to slightly “cook” the seafood, you can marinate it for a bit. A great summer dish to enjoy with a cold beer and a wedge of lime.

Serves 4 to 6

Johnny's Selected Seeds


Tomato-Habanero Water

1 lb (455 g) cherry tomatoes (such as Sungold) 1 shallot, chopped
1 large garlic clove
1 habanero chile, stemmed and seeded
1/2 cup [8 g] fresh cilantro leaves
10 fresh basil leaves
3 Tbsp pineapple vinegar (see Note) or distilled white vinegar 1 Tbsp fine sea salt


12 oz [340 g] sea scallops (about 12), side muscle removed 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 lemon cucumber, thinly sliced
12 pickled gooseberries (RECIPE FOLLOWS), halved
1 shallot, thinly sliced into rings
1 serrano or jalapeño chile, stemmed, thinly sliced into rings, and seeded Finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Flaky sea salt and fresh black pepper

Note: Pineapple and banana vinegars are available at some gourmet shops and online, such as at the Rancho Gordo website.

Pickled Gooseberries

1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
3 whole allspice
1 star anise
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/3 cup [80 ml] Champagne vinegar
1/3 cup [80 ml] water
1/3 cup [65 g] sugar
A few fresh cilantro leaves
Pinch of fine sea salt
2 cups [250 g] gooseberries, husked and halved


To make the Tomato-Habanero Water:

Line a fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth and set it over a large bowl. make the tomato-habanero water: Combine the tomatoes, shallot, garlic, habanero, cilantro, basil, vinegar, and fine sea salt in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Transfer the mixture to the prepared sieve. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 4. (Do not stir or press on the solids, or the tomato water will be cloudy.) Discard the solids, cover the tomato water, and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the Scallops:

Cut each scallop crosswise into thirds, so that you have three thin, round slices.

Put the scallops in a medium bowl and pour over the lime juice and tomato water. Serve immediately, or if you wish, marinate the scallops for 1 to 3 hours in the refrigerator.

To serve:

Divide the scallops and the juice and tomato water among four to six shallow bowls. Add the cucumber, and arrange the scallop and cucumber slices attractively. Top with the pickled gooseberry halves, shallot, and chile. Garnish with cilantro leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with flaky sea salt and a grind of fresh black pepper and serve.

To prepare about 4 cups (750 g) of Pickled Gooseberries:

Toast the coriander, allspice, star anise, and black peppercorns over medium heat, in a small, dry skillet, stirring frequently, until they begin to release their oils and are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
Combine the vinegar, water, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the spices, and set the mixture aside to cool to room temperature.
Put the halved gooseberries in a container. When the vinegar mixture is cool, pour it over the gooseberries. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Reprinted from Ama by Josef Centeno and Betty Hallock with permission by Chronicle Books, 2019.

Reader Comments

No comments yet

Try it

Sign up for a free membership and set up your dashboard. Get a taste of our rich content and view up to 12 tomatoes, recipes, bugs, articles, and videos on us!