Shrimp Veracruz with Pumpkin Seed Sauce (Pipián)

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Talk about a stunning dish. Wow. Just wow.

We’re not going to lie…this dish does take some time to prepare. But, boy oh boy, is it worth it. The Veracruz sauce explodes with vibrant flavors, and of course, the lightly fried corn tortillas bathed in the sublime Pumpkin Seed Sauce all work together incredibly well.

A close-up view of shrimp Veracruz sitting on three rolled corn tortillas topped with a pipián sauce.

How To Make Shrimp Veracruz with Pipián Sauce

The Mexican State of Veracruz is a beautiful blend of cultures running along the Gulf Coast. It has many cultural influences that are evidenced in their incredible cuisine. Seafood is a staple, and this dish captures the essence of this exciting and exotic locale.

We suggest making the pumpkin seed sauce (pipián) in advance. You can make up to 5 days in advance. Keep it in a container with a lid in the refrigerator.

Once you have the pumpkin sauce prepared, the rest of the dish comes together fairly quickly.

 

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The Ingredients You Will Need

This recipe is an adaption from Chef Ricardo Zurita, one of the most accomplished chefs working in Mexico today.

The ingredients are classic Veracruz.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Diced tomatoes – We go with a 28 oz. can of petite diced
Olive oil – Extra-virgin
Garlic – Minced
Bay leaves – Fresh, if possible
Olives – Green and pitted
Raisins – Golden, if possible
Capers – Drained
Oregano – Dried
Pumpkin Seed Sauce – Made in advance, if possible
Corn oil – For flash frying the tortillas
Tortillas – Corn
Shrimp – Large, shelled, deveined
Parsley – Fresh, chopped, for garnish

EXPERT TIP: As mentioned, we use canned diced tomatoes, however, you can certainly go with fresh tomatoes. Simply blanch 2 lbs of ripe medium-sized tomatoes in boiling water for about 10 seconds (this can be done in batches). Transfer to an ice bath, and then peel, and finely chop the tomatoes.

A cutting board being used to transfer olives, capes, and raisins into a skillet of cooked diced tomatoes.

Tips for Perfect Veracruz Shrimp

Mise en Place – This dish comes together quickly. Once the sauce is ready, cover it and keep it over very low heat on the stove. In a separate skillet, keep the pumpkin seed sauce covered and also over very low heat. Quickly prepare the tortillas in the oil and then the sauce. It’s important to have all of your ingredients prepped and in place (mise en place) to ensure smooth preparation and serving.

Don’t Overcook the Shrimp – Shrimp cooks quickly. Once it turns a bright pink and curls up, it’s ready. If you overcook them, they will become tough and rubbery. We like to keep the tails on for a pretty presentation, but you can remove them, if desired.

Take Care with the Tortillas – Corn tortillas are thin and break easily when they are flash-fried in the oil. Use a couple of forks to help you navigate the tortilla in the hot oil. It only takes one or two seconds in the oil for each side of the tortilla. Drain each quickly on a paper towel, and then stack them and cover them on a plate.

EXPERT TIP: Ladle about 1 to 2 cups of the warm pipián sauce into a shallow bowl large enough to hold a corn tortilla. Once all of the tortillas have been lightly fried and are very pliable, use your hands to dredge them through the sauce, coating the tortillas all over.

A person submerging a warmed corn tortilla into a bowl filled with pumpkin seed pipián sauce.

How To Serve

For a truly magnificent presentation, roll each tortilla that is coated with the pipián sauce cigar-style (see photos and video for reference).

Of course, you could also stuff the tortillas with the shrimp mixture, but the cigar shape is unique and allows the shrimp Verzcruz to shine on top.

Again, it’s important that all elements are completed and kept warm before assembly and plating. This takes a little planning.

Two plates that contain a serving of Veracruz shrimp sitting on three rolled tortillas with pumpkin seed sauce and two glasses of white wine nearby.

Other Classic Mexican Dishes to Try

Mexican cuisine is diverse and incredibly delicious. Here are a few of our favorites:

Seafood-Stuffed Rellenos
Shrimp Tacos Dorados
Mexican Meatballs (Albondigas)
Black Bean and Roasted Chicken Tostadas
Chipotle Roasted Chicken
Mahi Mahi Tacos
Classic Chili Rellenos

But in the meantime, you’ve got to give this amazing dish a try. Every bite is a true celebration of incredible Mexican cuisine.

A plate of Veracruz shrimp on a rolled tortillas that have been cut open with a fork.

This dish is authentic and loaded with quintessential Mexican flavor.

It comes together quickly and the smell is truly amazing.

Veracruz can also be served over Mexican rice or even pasta!

An overhead view of a stainless steel skillet filled with shrimp Veracruz with a wooden spatula stuck in the middle.

Ready to truly impress your guests with an authentic Mexican seafood dish? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it to Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon

Shrimp Veracruz with Pumpkin Seed Sauce (Pipian)

Shrimp Veracruz with Pumpkin Seed Sauce (Pipián) is a classic Central Mexican dish. Start by making the Pumpkin Seed Sauce, then make the Veracruz shrimp. Then assemble one of the most beautiful and delicious plates you'll ever see or eat.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Authentic Mexican seafood recipe, how to make shrimp Veracruz
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Preparing the Pipián Sauce: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 396kcal

Ingredients

Make Ahead

  • Pumpkin Seed Sauce (Pipián)

For the Shrimp Veracruz

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 20 large shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic minced, divided
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes drained
  • ½ cup white onion finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • ½ cup green olives pitted and quartered lengthwise
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup capers drained
  • 2 tsp oregano dried

For Finishing the Dish

  • Pumpkin Seed Sauce (Pipián) (click for recipe)
  • ½ cup corn oil can also use vegetable oil
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 3 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped, for garnish

Instructions

Do Ahead

  • Prepare the Pumpkin Seed Sauce (Pipián). As you are preparing the shrimp sauce, gently warm the pipián sauce on the stove.
    Pumpkin Seed Sauce (Pipián)

Make the Shrimp Veracruz Sauce

  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, toss the shrimp with the salt and half of the garlic. Add the shrimp to the hot oil and sauté until the shrimp is pink and curled, about 4 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the cooked shrimp to a plate. Set aside.
    ¼ cup olive oil, 1 tsp Kosher salt, 4 cloves garlic, 20 large shrimp
  • Add the onion to the skillet (there should still be oil in the pan, add a little more, if necessary). Sauté until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring often.
    ½ cup white onion
  • Stir in tomatoes, sugar, salt, and bay leaves and bring to a boil.
    1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp Kosher salt, 2 fresh bay leaves
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes.
  • Add olives, raisins, capers, and oregano to sauce and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Stir in the cooked shrimp. Cover the pan, and keep on very low heat while you prepare the tortillas.
    ½ cup green olives, ¼ cup raisins, ¼ cup capers, 2 tsp oregano

PREPARE THE TORTILLAS

  • Transfer 2 cups of warm Pumpkin Seed (Pepitas) Sauce to a bowl large enough to hold a tortilla. (a pie plate works well). Keep the remainder of the sauce warm, covered, on the stovetop over low heat.
    Pumpkin Seed Sauce (Pipián)
  • Heat oil in a 7 - 8 inch heavy skillet over medium heat, until hot but not smoking, then carefully pass tortillas 1 at a time through the oil with tongs (or 2 forks) to soften, about 1 to 2 seconds per side.
    ½ cup corn oil, 12 corn tortillas
  • Blot both sides of each tortilla with paper towels and place on a plate.

PLATE THE DISH

  • Working with 1 tortilla at a time, dredge in pumpkin seed sauce (in the bowl) to coat both sides, then roll up like a cigar and place on serving plates, 3 rolled tortillas per plate.
  • Spoon ½ cup of the warm pipián sauce over the rolled tortillas and then top with shrimp Veracruz. Garnish with parsley. Serve at once.  
    3 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley

Notes

See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel
Once the shrimp Veracruz sauce is prepared, cover the skillet and keep it on very low on the stove. Keep the heat low so you won't overcook the shrimp.  You'll need to keep the pumpkin seed sauce warmed, too. 
The pumpkin seed sauce can be made up to 5 days in advance and kept covered in the fridge. To make the preparation of the dish easier, we do recommend making the sauce ahead of time. 

Nutrition

Calories: 396kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 1479mg | Potassium: 232mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 342IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 2mg
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POST UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in August 2016, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe with new tips and photography and a fabulous new video in January 2023.

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