Katsuje Tanabe brings all the flavors to the table at his restuarant a’Verde. He fuses the traditional elements of a Mexican restaurant with echoes from his Japanese heritage. One of his favorite ways to create food is by adding a little bit of spice to his recipes, such as Aguachile, which is packed with flavorful heat.

“Aguachile pretty much means spicy water, and it comes from the northern part of Mexico. I like taking the spicy broth and instead of tomatoes, I use tamarind blended with lots of habaneros. This dish is very sour, very fresh, and very crunchy—it takes me straight back to Mexico, and it’s the perfect appetizer,” Tanabe says.


Serves 4

  • ¼ cup seedless tamarind paste
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 whole habaneros
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 small lobsters, poached and chilled
  • 4 corn tostadas
  • ¼ cup diced pineapple
  • 1 Fresno chile, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tobiko (fish roe)
  • Micro cilantro or cilantro leaves
  • for garnish
  1. In a blender or food processor, combine tamarind paste, lime juice, vinegar, brown sugar, habaneros, and fish sauce. Blend until smooth and set aside.
  2. Remove lobster meat from shells and slice into ¼-inch-thick medallions. On each tostada, place 2 to 3 medallions of lobster.
  3. Spoon tamarind sauce over lobster and top each with pineapple, a few slices of chile, and a little bit of tobiko. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
  • Recipe By
    Katsuji Tanabe of a'Verde in Cary, North Carolina

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