Guatemalan Pepían Rojo con Camarones


Inspired by the classic Guatemalan dish, this is easy and quick fiesta-fare that won’t break the bank. A flavorful sauce with toasted chiles and sesame seeds and fresh tomatoes adds authentic and delicious flavor to sweet shrimp and squash. Serve rice and corn tortillas on the side for soaking up all the tasty broth.


Pepían Rojo con Camarones


Servings 6



  • 1 medium white onion, quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 dried chili de pasilla
  • 1 dried chili de ancho
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • 4 tomatoes, quartered
  • 5 to 10 chiltepe peppers, stems removed OR 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded
  • 5 whole cilantro sprigs
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt plus more to taste
  • 2 carrots, cut into ¼ -x- ¼ -inch match sticks
  • 1 large qüícoy (or zucchini), cut into ½ -inch dice
  • 1 large qüísquil (chayote), cut into ½ -inch dice
  • 4 cups fish or chicken stock
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ¼ cup cilantro, minced
  • Rice, corn tortillas, lime wedges and chopped cilantro, serving suggestion



Over medium-high heat in a medium sauté pan, toast onions, garlic, and dried chilies until chilies are medium brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side, and the onions and garlic are lightly charred, about 3 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.

Add the sesame seeds to the pan and toast until just golden, about 2 minutes. Be careful to cover the pan, as they will pop out as they toast. Do not burn.

In a blender combine toasted chilies, garlic, onions, sesame seeds, tomatoes, chiltepe peppers, cilantro, and salt. Turn on the blender and puree adding just enough water to blend to a smooth thick paste. Set aside.

In a deep pot, add carrots, quicoy, quisquil, broth and enough water to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, add the chile paste from the blender, reduce to a simmer and cooked uncovered for 20 minutes.

Add shrimp, cilantro, and salt to taste. Stir to combine and simmer another 5 minutes more. Shrimp will be bright pink and vegetables should be tender but still have a slight bite. Remove from heat and serve immediately with rice or tortillas, lime wedges, and more chopped cilantro.

Enjoy this Pepían Rojo con Camarones!


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