Strawberry Aguachile

Aguachile, in literal translation, is 'chile water.' The dish originally comes from the Sonoran Sierras in Mexico, where ranching was the local trade, and was made with machaca (dried beef floss) that was rehydrated in water that got its kick from tiny, round, potent wild Chiltepin chiles. According to chef Claudette Zepeda, "anything can be an aguachile if you take creative freedom with it." For her colorful Strawberry Aguachile, Zepeda cooks strawberries in a double boiler to gently release their sweetness, creating a juice with vibrant color and flavor. When mixed with scallions, cucumber, anise-scented hoja santa, and citrus juices, the juice creates the perfect, punchy base for a strawberry and radish aguachile. 

Strawberry and Radish Aguachile
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen
Active Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs


  • 2 ½ pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered lengthwise (about 7 1/2 cups), divided

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided

  • 1 small (5-ounce) red bell pepper 

  • 3 medium scallions (about 2 ounces), trimmed

  • 1 small (1 1/4-ounce) bunch fresh cilantro

  • ¼ cup chopped peeled Persian cucumber (from 1 small [2-ounce] cucumber)

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 2 medium limes)

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh hoja santa (from 1 leaf) (optional)

  • 5 dried chiltepin or pequin chiles (unseeded), crushed

  • 1 bunch radishes (such as French breakfast or purple), thinly sliced lengthwise

  • Radish microgreens, for garnish

  • ¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)


  1. Stir together 6 cups strawberries, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Cover and cook, undisturbed, until berries release their juices, about 1 hour. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large bowl; let drain, stirring occasionally but not pressing down on berries, until no more liquid drips, about 30 minutes. Discard solids. (You should have 1 1/2 cups strawberry juice.) Store juice, covered, in refrigerator until ready to use or up to 1 day.

  2. While strawberries cook, preheat oven to broil with rack 6 inches from heat. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; place bell pepper on prepared baking sheet. Broil in preheated oven, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; transfer bell pepper to a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; let stand 10 minutes. Uncover and place bell pepper on a clean cutting board. Peel off charred skin, and remove and discard stem and seeds. Roughly chop bell pepper. Set aside 1/3 cup chopped bell pepper; reserve remaining bell pepper for another use.

  3. Using a knife, separate white and light green parts of scallion from dark green parts. Thinly slice dark green parts on a sharp diagonal, and set aside. Separate cilantro leaves from stems; reserve 4 or 5 stems (1/8 ounce), and discard remaining stems. Set cilantro leaves aside. Combine cucumber, lime juice, lemon juice, hoja santa (if using), chiltepin chiles, strawberry juice, chopped bell pepper, white and light green scallion parts, and reserved cilantro stems in a blender; process until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large bowl or a liquid measuring cup; discard solids. Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.

  4. Fill a bowl with ice water. Add dark green scallion parts, and let stand 30 seconds. Remove from water; drain and pat dry. Divide strawberry broth evenly among 4 bowls. Arrange remaining 1 1/2 cups strawberries over broth. Arrange dark green scallion parts, radishes, and cilantro leaves or radish microgreens, as desired, around strawberries. Top evenly with flaky sea salt; serve immediately.

Make Ahead

Strawberry juice can be prepared up to 1 day in advance and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator. Strawberry broth can be prepared through step 3 up to 12 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.


Hoja santa is an herb, common in Central American cooking, with an anise-like flavor. It is available at most Latin grocery stores. Chiltepin or pequin chiles can be found online at

Suggested Pairing

Light, berry-scented rosé: Gérard Bertrand Source of Joy

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