Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail
Cóctel de Camarón
Unexpected as it may be for many Americans, market stalls and street stalls all over Mexico put together shrimp cocktails for hungry crowds everyday and serve them up with packets of soda crackers. And not just on the beaches. Honestly, one of my favorite street-stall shrimp cocktails is at Mexico City’s El Caguamo, which follows the pretty traditional pattern of making “cocktail” sauce from ketchup, Mexican hot sauce and fresh-squeezed lime, then mixing in shrimp, avocado, cilantro and onion. Elemental satisfaction.
Working Ahead: The sauce can be made, covered and refrigerated for several days before serving. Finish the cocktail within an hour or so of serving.
Make 4 cups, serving 6 to 8 as a starter
1 pound (71 to 90 pieces per pound) peeled, cooked small shrimp
¾ cup ketchup
¼ cup Mexican hot sauce (such as Valentina or Tamazula)
½ cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off)
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 small white onion, cut into ¼-inch pieces
¾ cup clam juice, shellfish stock or water
1 ripe avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin and sliced
2 to 3 dozen crackers (standard-issue saltines, artisanal crackers or the homemade red chile crackers on page 000)
OR 8 to 12 ounces of tortilla chips
2 limes, cut into wedges
In a large bowl, combine the shrimp, ketchup, hot sauce, cilantro, lime juice and onion. Stir in the clam juice, stock or water. Taste and season with saltif you think it needs it. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
Serve the cocktail in small bowls topped with slices of avocado, accompanied by saltine crackers (for a very authentic touch) or tortilla chips and lime wedges for your guests to squeeze on.