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Mexican Chef Pati Jinich Wants To Change How You Think About Enchiladas

Mexican chef Pati Jinich shares her recipe for shrimp enchiladas from her cookbook, <em>Mexican Today</em>.
Courtesy of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Mexican chef Pati Jinich shares her recipe for shrimp enchiladas from her cookbook, Mexican Today.

Pati Jinich is a Mexican chef whose life in the U.S. has influenced her cooking. Her latest cookbook, Mexican Today, is filled with recipes that reflect this cross over of cultures. She invites NPR's Ari Shapiro into her Chevy Chase, Md., kitchen to talk about her book and to demonstrate how her enchiladas have adapted north of the border.

Recipe: Pati Jinich's Shrimp Enchiladas In A Rich Tomato Sauce

Serves: 6

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Make Ahead: The sauce can be made up to four days ahead, covered and refrigerated. The enchiladas can be assembled up to an hour ahead of time, covered, and kept warm in a 250-degree oven. When ready to serve, add the garnishes.


1½ pounds medium shrimp

5 flat-leaf parsley sprigs

2 garlic cloves

3 or 4 bay leaves

Kosher or sea salt

1½ pounds ripe tomatoes

1 or 2 serrano or jalapeño chiles, stemmed, to taste

4 scallions (white and light green parts only), coarsely chopped

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3 tablespoons canola or safflower oil

1 cup Mexican crema or heavy cream, plus a bit more for garnish

12 corn tortillas

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For Garnish:

4 scallions (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced

1 ripe Hass avocado, halved, pitted, flesh scooped out and sliced

2 ounces queso fresco, farmer's cheese, or mild feta, crumbled (about ½ cup)

Remove the shells and tails from the shrimp and reserve. Rinse the shrimp and pat dry. Cut each one into 3 or 4 bite-size pieces.

In a medium saucepan, combine the shrimp shells and tails, parsley, 1 of the garlic cloves, the bay leaves, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the broth into a large measuring cup or heatproof bowl.

Combine the tomatoes, the remaining garlic clove, and chile(s) in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the tomatoes are thoroughly soft, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a blender. Add the chopped scallions. If you simmered 2 chiles, add only 1 of them to the blender; when you taste the finished puree, you can decide if you want to add the other. Add ½ teaspoon salt, the nutmeg, and 1 cup of the shrimp broth and puree until completely smooth. Taste and add some or all of the other chile if you would like more chile presence and heat.

Rinse out and dry the saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan and heat over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add the tomato sauce, being careful to avoid splatters, cover partially, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and deepens in color to a much darker red, about 10 minutes. Uncover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir in the cream. Keep at a steady low simmer for 8 to 10 more min­utes, until the sauce is thick and creamy and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and adjust the salt. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Prepare the tortillas.

To cook the shrimp, work in batches so that they will sear, not steam: Heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over high heat until the butter is foaming. Add half the shrimp, season with salt, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring and flipping a few times, until just cooked through and lightly browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a large plate. Add the remaining tablespoon each of oil and butter to the skillet, and once the butter is foaming, add the remaining shrimp, season with salt, and cook in the same manner; transfer to the bowl.

Reheat the sauce if necessary. Glide one of the tortillas through the sauce and place on a plate. Place about 3 of the shrimp across the middle and fold in half, like a quesadilla. Place on a platter and continue with the remaining tortillas and shrimp, overlapping the enchiladas slightly.

Once all of the enchiladas are filled, spoon the remaining tomato sauce on top. They should be sauced generously. Garnish with the sliced scallions, avocado, and cheese and serve.

Text excerpted from Mexican Today, copyright 2016 by Pati Jinich. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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