Shrimp in Poblano Chili and Cilantro Sauce

Based on a classic Mexican fish dish pescado en salsa poblano, or fish in poblano sauce, this recipe is a shrimp version. To make the creamy, vibrantly hued sauce that cloaks plump, gently cooked shrimp, poblano chilies, with their earthy flavor and moderate heat, are puréed with cilantro, alliums and Mexican crema, a rich cultured cream similar to, but milder than sour cream.

If crema isn’t available—and it wasn’t for us—sour cream works in its place. To make a more substantial meal, serve with warmed tortillas and rice and beans; over steamed rice; or as in our case, polenta cooked in shrimp stock.

Don’t be afraid to use the cilantro stems. Unlike parsley, cilantro has stems that are tender and will readily break down in the blender.

Shrimp in Poblano Chili and Cilantro Sauce

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 2 medium poblano chilies, stemmed, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced, plus more to serve
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs. extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tTbsp. lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve
  • 3 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro, plus more to serve
  • 1/3 cup Mexican crema or sour cream


  1. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the chilies and cook, stirring occasionally, until charred in spots, 2 to 4 minutes. Reduce to medium and add the garlic, onion, ¼ cup water and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss the shrimp with the lime juice, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper; set aside.
  2. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a blender; reserve the skillet. To the blender, add the cilantro, crema and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Blend on high until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Pour the puree into the skillet and bring to a simmer over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring often, until opaque throughout, about 3 minutes.
  4. Off heat, taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with additional cilantro and sliced onion; serve with lime wedges.

Adapted from a recipe for Milk Street

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