After spending time in all the border states (and the food capital of the U.S., NYC), I’m convinced that the best Mexican food outside of Mexico is, hands down, Arizona. I used to think that also included Mexico, but two trips to Cancún quickly refuted that foolishness. Yup, the same state that brings us backwards bigoted governors and racial profiling, also gives us the best Mexican food outside of Mexico. Ironic, isn’t it?

I’m sometimes ashamed to admit I’m from Arizona (not born but definitely raised) but, then again, I left, so I have that going for me. I do have family and friends there so I visit from time to time. Every Phoenix visit there’s one stop I have to make: San Carlos Bay restaurant. Their Sea of Cortez-style Mexican food makes my mouth water just thinking about it. My entrée of choice: Camerones Culichi, which is shrimp swimming in a creamy mild green pepper sauce baked in a dish with a layer of melted cheese. It’s served with fresh tortillas for scooping up the cheesy, poblano peppery goodness.

Culichi Prep

I definitely had to figure out how to make this dish. Being far away from Phoenix, it has not been easy to reverse engineer the sauce that is its heart and soul. I found one recipe online but it didn’t quite capture the magic. I experimented and, with some tips from a friend who grew up in Nogales, I finally figured out how the sauce was made.

You’re welcome.

Shrimp Culichi

  • Prep Time: 30m
  • Cook Time: 15m
  • Total Time: 45m
  • Serves: 2

What's in it:

  • 6 Poblano peppers
  • Shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pat of butter for sautéing the shrimp
  • 1 lb peeled & deveined shrimp
  • 2 tbsp. of powdered chicken stock
  • 1 c Crema Mexicana
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 diced avocado
  • Flour Tortillas

How to make it:

  1. Peel and seed the poblano peppers. Toss the peppers, avocado, cilantro, two cloves of garlic, Crema Mexicana and chicken stock powder in a blender and blend until smooth. The mixture should be thick but not too thick to pour. If needed, thin out by adding more Crema. Use the chicken stock to add saltiness (if needed), but keep in mind the shrimp and cheese will add salt so the sauce should be slightly under-salted.
  2. Next, sauté the shrimp in butter with the remaining sliced garlic clove. Once the shrimp is pink, transfer it to a shallow oven-safe dish. Sprinkle some shredded cheese over the shrimp and then cover the shrimp with the sauce. Add a generous layer of cheese over the top and then place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 10-15 min or until the cheese is completely melted and the edges of the sauce begin to bubble. Serve with warmed flour tortillas.
  • Vicki

    Thank you for this recipe!!! You share my love for Shrimp Culichi Style!
    I am going to make this recipe soon. Yummmmmmm

    • doncrossland

      I think the club for culichi style is still pretty small. That's ok, we're the cool kids. Enjoy the recipe.

  • Kristina Fernandez

    Mmmmm I am a huge fan of Shrimp Culichi. I also wanted the recipe....tried different versions of it...but this one looks mor Appetizing...I am going to try it with the avocado...never had it that way....mmmm Thnx

    • doncrossland

      Thanks Kristina! I've had it with and without avocado and I really like the rich creaminess that it adds to the sauce. Enjoy.

  • paula rutland

    HOW ABOUT NOT BRINGING POLITICS AND POLITICAL CORRECTNESS INTO THIS BUT JUST GO ON WITH THE RECIPE!

    • Don Crossland

      No need to yell, Paula. I don't see political correctness anywhere in this post. Ask around, no one has ever accused me of being PC. I have been accused of having a quirky sense of humor, though. You should read the pozole post. That one is really offensive.

  • Guevara

    I am proud to be born and raised in Arizona. Plus iam Mexican Arizona is a great place to live. We have the Mexican food.