Grilled Shrimp with Mojo de Ajo (Citrus-Garlic) Sauce, Citrus Salsa and Avocado

This is a festive dish that is great for serving guests, especially in summer. The spicy, but not hot, sauce is brushed on while grilling the shrimp. The salsa has a citrus flavor and is very good. While overall there is a good amount of prep time to this recipe, the sauce and salsa can be prepared in advance.
Based on a recipe by Susan Herrmann Loomis, The New York Times Magazine, sometime around 1995.
Prep Time1 hour 25 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time1 hour 35 minutes
Course: Grill, Main Course - Seafood
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Catherine Christiano


Mojo de Ajo (Citrus-Garlic) Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon annatto or achiote seeds soaked for 1 hour, or if unavailable 2 teaspoons tumeric
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1 allspice berry
  • 1 serrano chili trimmed
  • 1 cup cilantro lightly packed
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar

Citrus Salsa

  • 4 medium tomatoes peeled, seeded and diced
  • 6 scallions tender green and white parts, diced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest from approximately 2 oranges
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 serrano chili or 1/2 jalapeno pepper, trimmed, with seeds and minced
  • salt to taste around 1 teaspoon or more

Shrimp and Avocado

  • small wooden skewers soaked in water early in day
  • 16 jumbo shrimp or 24 medium shrimp shelled and deveined
  • 1 large avocado peeled, pitted, quartered and then thinly sliced


Mojo de Ajo Sauce (about 30 min prep time)

  • If using annatto or achiote seeds, drain water and add to blender. Add all remaining Mojo de Ajo Sauce ingredients to blender. Process until mixture is coarsely chopped. Reserve.

Citrus Salsa (about 45 min prep time)

  • Place all ingredients except salt in food processor fitted with steel blade. Using short pulses process until still a coarse mixture. Add salt to taste.

Shrimp (about 20 minutes)

  • Preheat grill with grill set about three inches above coals. Or preheat broiler.
  • Thread two jumbo shrimp on each presoaked wooden skewer. Liberally brush shrimp on both sides with Mojo de Ajo Sauce. Place on grill (or under broiler) for about 5 minutes, turning once. Shrimp are done when firm to touch and slightly darkened on outside. Smaller shrimp will take less time.
  • Divide salsa among four dinner plates and form a circular bed. Arrange avocado slices like spokes on a wheel. Place skewers of shrimp on top. Serve immediately.
Copyright 2023, Catherine Christiano. Website by Catherine Christiano.