Mojo de Ajo Shrimp Pasta is a Mexican inspired version of Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. Pasta tossed in Mojo de Ajo (garlic oil), topped with succulent shrimp, chili flakes and fresh parsley or cilantro.
The first thing I look for on the menu at any Mexican restaurant is Camarones Mojo de Ajo (Shrimp with Garlic Sauce). Shrimp bathed in a garlic oil, with mushrooms and onions served with Mexican rice, refried beans and shredded lettuce. They also provide flour or corn tortillas so that you can wrap all these yummy ingredients just like a burrito. Crazy delicious!
We’ve had serious cravings for Mexican food ever since we moved to Malaysia last year. It’s such a challenge to find good authentic Mexican food here so I’m having to learn to cook it to satisfy that craving. Instead of the typical Shrimp Mojo de Ajo wrapped in flour tortillas, I turned it into a pasta dish. Because who doesn’t love pasta?
This Mojo de Ajo Shrimp Pasta reminds me of the Italian Spaghetti Aglio e Olio but the zing of the lime juice is what sets it apart. This recipe also uses butter for a richer flavor.
Start by preparing 4 servings of pasta (about half a box of the 16oz of uncooked spaghetti (8oz) according to the instructions on the box (usually, it’s about 8 minutes cooking time). Tip: You can also use the hole in the middle of your wooden spatula to measure out 1 serving of pasta:
While waiting for the pasta to cook, finely chop 10 cloves of garlic, and dice 1 small onion. As soon as the pasta is cooked, drain it and set aside. Keep the pot handy, though – you’ll be needing it for the final step of the cooking process.
Put 3/4 stick of butter, 1/4 cup of olive oil and the chopped garlic in a small saucepan. Put the pan on the stove over very low heat. Stir frequently. The garlic will tend to stick to the bottom of the pan as it starts to cook so be sure to scrape the pan with a wooden spoon as you stir.
Keeping it on low heat will allow the garlic to slow-roast in the oil and turn soft. If the oil is too hot, the garlic will turn crispy and a little bitter.
As soon as the garlic starts to turn brown, turn off the heat. Pour in the juice from 1 lime and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt, then give it a stir.
Next, pan-fry the shrimp. You’ll need 12 – 16 large shrimp; peeled and deveined, tail on.
Place a shallow frying pan on your stovetop over medium-high heat. Pour about 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil that you just prepared into the frying pan. I recommend frying the shrimp in a couple of batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan. This will allow the shrimp to cook properly. The shrimp should sizzle upon touching the pan. It will only take about a minute for the shrimp to cook (30 seconds on each side). Set the cooked shrimp aside.
Using the same pot that you cooked your pasta with, heat up about 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil over medium heat. Saute the diced onion.
As soon as the onion starts to turn translucent, turn off the heat. Add the pasta and the Mojo de Ajo (the oil AND the garlic). Toss well using a pair of tongs.
Top the pasta with a little more fresh lime juice, a pinch of salt, freshly ground black pepper, chili flakes, parsley, and of course, the shrimp! You can also use cilantro in place of parsley (or use both together!)
For the chili flakes, I highly recommend using Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning Blend Pizza & Pasta. In addition to the chili flakes, it’s got a few other ingredients like paprika, garlic powder, thyme and basil. It will give your pasta a really nice spicy and flavorful kick!
Mojo de Ajo Shrimp Pasta
- 8 oz uncooked spaghetti
- 10 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 3/4 stick butter salted
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Juice from 1 lime plus 1 lime for garnish
- 12 - 16 large shrimp peeled, deveined, tail-on
- 1 small onion diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- chili flakes crushed red pepper
- Parsley or cilantro for garnish
- Cook the spaghetti per the instructions on its box. Drain and set aside.
- Put butter, garlic and olive oil in a small saucepan. Place the pan over low heat. Stir frequently, scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir. Continue cooking the garlic over very low heat. This will slow-roast the garlic as opposed to deep-frying it.
- As soon as the garlic starts to turn brown, turn off the heat.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the juice of 1 lime to the garlic and oil mixture, then stir to combine. Set aside.
- Place a separate shallow frying pan on your stove-top over medium-high heat. Pour 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil in this frying pan, then pan-fry the shrimp in a couple of batches. It should only take about 30 seconds per side for the shrimp to cook. Set the shrimp aside when fully cooked.
- In the same pot that you cooked your pasta with, heat up about 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil over medium heat. Saute the diced onions.
- When the onions turn translucent, turn off the heat. Add the pasta and all of the mojo the ajo (the oil AND the garlic). Toss well using a pair of tongs.
- Transfer to serving plates. Top with more lime juice, salt, pepper and chili flakes.
- Arrange the shrimp on the pasta.
- Garnish with parsley or cilantro (or both!)