Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Coconut Rice

Throughout the coastal areas of Latin America, you’ll find local variations of “Camarones al Ajillo”, freshly caught shrimp, fried quickly in olive oil with garlic and chiles. My friend Arturo grew up near the beaches of Acapulco and learned a way of preparing the garlic shrimp classic with jalapenos and coconut milk. The layers of flavor in this dish are fabulous – chile, shrimp, coconut, lemon grass (or lime). If you get the timing right, this dish cooks up quite fast. You can use either peeled or unpeeled shrimp. The peeled is easier to eat, but the unpeeled absorbs flavor from the shells while cooking.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Coconut Rice Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 3 to 4.


  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 pound, about 20 large jumbo shrimp (peeled with tail on or unpeeled, but veins removed)
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 cup of water
  • Salt
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, de-ribbed, julienned
  • Juice of one lime (or 2 inches of white tender end of lemongrass, finely sliced)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small cans (5.6 ounces) coconut milk
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of red chili powder or red chili sauce (to taste)
  • Cilantro for garnish (optional)


1 Start cooking rice, following package instructions.


2 Pulse garlic, water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender, just a few pulses, so you can still see chunks of garlic. Pour over shrimp to marinate. Marinate for 10 minutes.

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3 Strain the water from the shrimp and garlic mixture. Add the lime juice (or finely sliced lemongrass), jalapeño, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the shrimp mixture.

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4 Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in high heat in large sauté pan. Add shrimp. Cook one minute. Add 1 small can of coconut milk. Cook 30 seconds more. Mix in a teaspoon red chili powder or sauce.

5 Put rice into a large bowl. Mix in the second 5.6 ounce can of coconut milk to the cooked rice.

Serve shrimp on rice. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro (optional).

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Many thanks to my friend Arturo Vargas of Taste for the Senses for sharing his "Camarones al Ajillo" recipe with us.

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Showing 4 of 32 Comments

  • Lisa (Homesick Texan)

    I always debate whether to cook shrimp with or without the peel. While you do get more flavor with the peel, I’m such an eager eater I can be impatient if I have to peel my shrimp before eating them. So sometimes I peel them, throw the peels into the pot and then scoop them out before adding the other ingredients so I can get some of the flavor. Lovely recipe–I adore all these flavors together and can’t wait to try this!

  • Me

    Just made this and it was GOOD! I used Sriracha hot sauce to spice it up.

  • Matt0821

    Wow, this sounds like it may be the recipe I had in Tobago… ate it almost everyday it was so amazing. I’ve been trying to reproduce it, they put ketchup I know into the mix but there was something sweet that I couldn’t put my fingure on. Perhapse it’s the coconut milk.

  • Dr Pradnya

    Wow, my mouth’s watering just reading the recipe. It is very similar to what I make, but I also add ginger paste.

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