Chef Mario Pagán represents Puerto Rico at the 39th Annual Food & Wine Classic. He showcases several innovative dishes and drinks, including a Coconut Sofrito Shrimp Cake paired with his flavorful Coco y Piña cocktail. 

Below, Mario shares the recipes for these two delightful creations so you can make them from the comfort of your own kitchen! 

Coconut Sofrito Shrimp Cake

Coconut Sofrito Shrimp Cake with guava rum ganache and avocado crema

Coconut Sofrito Shrimp Cake


Shrimp Cakes

  • Rock shrimp (U16/20) peeled & deveined – 16 pieces
  • Panko breadcrumbs – 10 oz.
  • Sweet coconut flakes – 6 oz.
  • Kosher salt – 1 tsp.
  • Unsalted butter – 2 tsp.


  • Unsalted butter – 4 oz.
  • All-purpose flour – 4 oz.
  • Whole milk – 12 oz.
  • White onion – 1/4 wedge
  • Cloves – 4
  • Fresh nutmeg – 1/2 tsp.
  • Kosher salt – 1 to 1 1/2 tsp.
  • White pepper – to taste


  • Sofrito – 1 tsp.

Guava Sauce

  • Guava paste – 21 oz.
  • Soy sauce – 6 oz.
  • Water – 32 oz.
  • 5 Spice Powder – 1 tsp.

Avocado Crema

  • Hass avocado – 1 half
  • Crème fraîche – 2 tsp.
  • Lemon juice – 1 tsp.
  • Kosher salt – to taste


  • For the cakes, cut the shrimp into medium pieces. Season the shrimp with 1 tsp. of salt. To cook the shrimp, place a sauté pan on high heat, add 1 tsp. of butter and once melted, add the shrimp pieces, tossing them for 1 minute. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside to let them cool down.
  • For the béchamel, place a small pot over medium-high heat and add the butter. Once melted, add the flour and whisk, incorporating it until a paste is formed. Keep whisking without stoping until the paste turns light golden or until the flour has cooked. Place temperature to medium. Add the milk, the onion wedge, the cloves and nutmeg and incorporate the paste with the milk while whisking it. Once the béchamel sauce has come to a boil, remove from the heat, pass the sauce through a sifter and let it cool.
  • For the guava sauce, set a pot to a medium-low temperature. Add the guava paste, water, soy sauce and 5 spice powder and let it dissolve. Whisk it until you have a glaze consistency.
  • Sofrito is available for purchase in stores. Or, make it yourself using Mario's legendary recipe.
  • Make sure that the ingredients have cooled off.
  • Mix the shrimp with the béchamel sauce and add the remaining salt, the sofrito and the pepper to taste.
  • Divide the mixture into 4 portions and form them in a cake-like shape.
  • Mix the panko breadcrumbs and the coconut flakes and coat the cakes, pressing the crumbs onto the cakes.
  • In a non-stick pan, melt the remaining tsp. of butter and place the shrimp cakes. Sear them on both sides until golden brown. Place them in a 300° F oven for 6 minutes.
  • For the avocado crema, mush the avocado into guacamole, adding the cream, salt and lemon.
  • Plate a dollop of the avocado crema on the bottom of the plate, then place the shrimp cake on top and pour a bit of sauce on each one.


Coco y Piña cocktail

Coco y Piña: Barrilito 2 Stars rum, Don Q piña, coconut, ginger, lemon, coconut flakes and sesame

Coco y Piña


  • Ron del Barrilito 2 Star rum – 1 1/2 oz.
  • Don Q Piña – 1 oz.
  • Coconut cream – 1 oz.
  • Fresh lemon juice – 1 oz.
  • Fresh ground ginger – 1 barspoon
  • Coconut flakes


  • Place all of the ingredients in a shaker.
  • Shake well and pour into a rocks glass, adding ice cubes or crushed ice.
  • Top with coconut flakes to taste (Pro tip: roast coconut flakes with flamer for aroma if you want to get fancy)