This seafood tostada with chile cascabel salsa is bursting with vibrant flavors of lime crema, succulent seafood, and a smoky roasted tomato chile salsa. A different take on ceviche but an absolutely delicious one!
Seafood Tostada with Chile Cascabel Salsa
Chile cascabel tomato salsa roja
- 12 ounces Roma tomatoes (about 3 small tomatoes)
- 2 garlic cloves peeled
- 2 ounces chile cascabel
- 6 chile de arbol
- ¼ cup water
- salt and pepper
- 4 ounces sour cream
- zest and juice of ½ lime
- 1 garlic clove grated
- salt and pepper
- 5 cups water
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ lemon
- ½ medium red onion sliced
- 2 chili de arbol
- 1 garlic cloves smashed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces shrimp peeled, deveined, tails removed
- 12 ounces scallops
- 4 tostada shells
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 avocado chopped
- ¼ cup thinly sliced radish
- ¼ cup pickled onions
- lime wedges for serving
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Make chile cascabel tomato salsa roja. Place tomatoes and garlic cloves on a sheet pan and roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until charred, rotating halfway through. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Remove stems and seeds from cascabel chilies and chile de arbol. Heat a pan over high heat and toast chilies until lightly charred, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer chilies to a pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn off the flames, cover the pot, and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Remove chilies from water and transfer to a blender along with roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, and ¼ cup water. Blend until smooth and season generously with salt and pepper. Let cool completely.
- Make lime crema. Combine sour cream with lime zest and juice, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Prepare the seafood. Make an ice bath by combining cold water and ice cubes in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Combine 5 cups of water with red wine vinegar in a large pot. Squeeze lemon and add the lemon to the pot along with sliced red onion, chile de arbol, garlic, rosemary, bay leaf, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add shrimp and scallop and cook for 2-3 minutes or until pink and firm. Immediately remove the seafood from the broth with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice bath.
- When cool, remove the seafood from the ice bath and chop into bite-size pieces. Season with salt and pepper and add 2 cups of the salsa, tossing to coat. Add more salsa if needed.
- Assemble the tostadas. Spread lime crema on the tostada shells and top with the seafood, cherry tomatoes, avocado, sliced radish, and pickled onions. Serve immediately with lime wedges and extra salsa on the side.
Watch how to make this:
A few months ago, I was able to visit Austin for the first time. I heard that Austin has a great selection of authentic Mexican food and fortunately, I was not disappointed. One restaurant, in particular, caught my eye, Este. The Mexican seafood restaurant was unlike any other one I've been to with fresh seafood marinated and seasoned in Mexican spices and flavors. My favorite dish of the night was their mixed seafood tostada tossed in a chile cascabel salsa. It was so well seasoned and flavorful, truly unlike anything I had before. And so I came home and tried to replicate their dish.
My version is slightly different from Este's in that I use only shrimp and scallops while they used tuna as well. I also added pickled onions for a hit of acid. However, other than that, the rest of the dish is similar. And although I'm not sure how they prepare their chile cascabel, I'm happy to say my recipe is quite delicious! Hopefully, you'll enjoy this seafood tostada as much as I did.
- Seafood: You can use almost any type of seafood for this tostada. I chose shrimp and scallops but you can also use tuna, squid, salmon, mahi mahi, or a different white fish.
- Roma tomatoes: There are different versions of chile cascabel but I went with the tomato chile cascabel version because that's what the restaurant prepared.
- Chile cascabel: A type of dried chili pepper that is round and small. They are typically mild with a rich, nutty flavor and a hint of smokiness.
- Chile de arbol: Since cascabel chilies are mild, I added chile de arbol for a little bit of heat. You can omit it or increase the amount for more spice. This recipe makes a medium-heat salsa.
- Avocado: Adds a bit of creaminess to the tostadas.
- Cherry tomatoes: Although an optional topping, cherry tomatoes add sweetness to the dish, complimenting the other flavors.
- Pickled onion: The pickled onions add acid to the dish, contrasting the other flavors. To make quick pickled onions, combine ¼ cup boiling water with ¼ cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then pour the brine over ½ a red onion thinly sliced. Let the onions sit for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
How to Make Seafood Tostada with Chile Cascabel Salsa
Step 1: Make the Salsa
To begin, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Place roma tomatoes and peeled garlic cloves on a sheet pan and roast them for about 15 minutes, or until they become nicely charred, rotating them halfway through. Once roasted, remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, prepare the chilies. Remove the stems and seeds from the chile cascabel and chile de arbol. Heat a pan over high heat and toast the chilies until they are lightly charred, which should take about 2-3 minutes. The chilies should puff up and slightly darken in color when they are ready.
Remove the toasted chilies from the heat and transfer them to a pot. Cover the chilies with water and bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the chilies sit for 10 minutes to soften.
After 10 minutes, remove the chilies from the water and transfer them to a blender. Add the roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, and ¼ cup of water to the blender as well. Blend the ingredients until you achieve a smooth consistency, and season the salsa generously with salt and pepper. Set the salsa aside to cool completely. Feel free to make the salsa up to 3 days in advance.
Step 2: Poach the Seafood
Next, it's time to poach the seafood. Prepare an ice bath by combining cold water and ice cubes in a large bowl, and set it aside. In a large pot, combine 5 cups of water with red wine vinegar. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into the pot, and then add the lemon to the pot along with sliced red onion, chile de arbol, smashed garlic clove, rosemary sprig, bay leaf, and salt. Place the pot over medium heat and bring the liquid to a simmer.
Once the poaching liquid is simmering, carefully add the peeled, deveined shrimp and scallops to the pot. Cook them for about 2-3 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink and the scallops become firm. Using a slotted spoon, immediately remove the poached seafood from the broth and transfer it to the prepared ice bath to stop the cooking process and cool them down.
Once the seafood has cooled, remove it from the ice bath and chop it into bite-size pieces. Season the seafood with salt and pepper, and add 2 cups of the chile cascabel tomato salsa roja, tossing the seafood to coat it evenly. Add more salsa if desired.
Step 3: Assemble
To assemble the tostadas, start by spreading lime crema on the tostada shells. Lime crema can be prepared by combining sour cream with lime zest, lime juice, grated garlic, salt, and pepper. Once the tostada shells are coated with lime crema, top them with seasoned seafood, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped avocado, thinly sliced radish, and pickled onions.
Serve the assembled tostadas immediately, accompanied by lime wedges for an extra burst of citrus flavor and extra salsa. Enjoy this delicious seafood tostada with chile cascabel salsa with its vibrant flavors and contrasting textures!
Can I use different types of seafood in this recipe?
Absolutely! This recipe is versatile, and you can use your preferred seafood or a combination of different types. Shrimp and scallops work wonderfully, but you can also try fish fillets, crab meat, or a mix of seafood.
How can I adjust the level of spiciness in the chile cascabel salsa roja?
If you prefer milder salsa, you can reduce the amount of chile de arbol. On the other hand, if you like it spicier, you can add more chilies. I would not recommend adjusting the number of cascabel chilies, however, since they are the main ingredient in the salsa.
Can I make the tostadas ahead of time?
While it's best to assemble and serve the tostadas immediately for optimal texture and freshness, you can prepare the components in advance. The seafood can be poached and seasoned ahead of time, and the chile cascabel tomato salsa roja and lime crema can be made a day or two ahead. Assemble the tostadas just before serving to maintain their crispy texture.
For more Mexican seafood inspiration, check out these bbq shrimp and corn flautas!