This isn’t food to eat quickly while standing up—this is worth taking a seat to linger over. The result is a rich and surprisingly flavorful sauce with just a tinge of heat.

Shrimp in Pipian Sauce

Total Time 40 mins
Servings 4


  • 1 ½ pounds medium shrimp unshelled, preferably with heads on
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 small bunch cilantro chopped, stems discarded
  • 4 serrano chiles stemmed, and chopped
  • ½ small white onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • cup thick sour cream
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 limes quartered


  • Remove shells and heads from shrimp.
  • Transfer shells and heads to a medium-sized saucepan.
  • Pour in water, and add salt.
  • Turn heat to medium and bring to a simmer.
  • Turn heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, toast pumpkin seeds in an un-greased 12-inch iron skillet set over medium heat.
  • Toss gently, and remove when they begin to pop.
  • They should not brown.
  • Transfer to blender.
  • Let cool for a few seconds, and then grind to a powder.
  • Add shrimp broth, cilantro, serranos, and onion to blender.
  • Blend until very smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Add butter to iron skillet.
  • Melt over medium-low heat.
  • Pour in pumpkin seed mixture.
  • Cook, stirring constantly, for about three minutes, or until it becomes a relatively thick paste.
  • Stir in sour cream, and season with more salt to taste.
  • Cook for three minutes.
  • Turn heat to low, and add shrimp.
  • Stir well and cook for five minutes.
  • Season with more salt to taste.
  • Serve with warm corn tortillas and the quartered limes.
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